Peter Farrell:  New Zealand Writer

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The Life Behind the Book


My memoir has been described as 'a surprising personal history behind an apparently conventional life.'


I don't think anyone has a 'conventional' life although I do accept that if you look beneath the surface of the lives of my mother and then myself there are some surprising revelations.


The Lie That Settles explores those revelations in some detail so I wont go into those too much here.


I was born in East Ham in London in 1940 to Marion, a forty year old woman who was working at a so called free school in Kent. She met my father there but he did not stay around for the birth. I always believed he had died in the war until I found out the truth when I was 17. My mother brought me up as a staff child in the therapeutic environment of Red Hill School although I was sent away to boarding school when I was 7.


I did search for a conventional life but seem to have been frustrated at every turn. Librarianship was not a good fit so I sought entry to the UK Civil Service, finding myself posted as a Clerk at Holloway Women's Prison and then at the newly opened Grendon Psychiatric Prison. By the time I was accepted as an assisted immigrant to New Zealand in 1964 I was married with one child. In exchange for the air fares and some housing I was sent to a remote prison farm on the volcanic plateau in the North Island. 


I moved to Wellington and remained in the Justice sector for a number of years before moving into social policy work and then management of change roles in the National Library, the Department of Tourist and Publicity, Inland Revenue and the National Museum and Art Gallery where I was a director during the development and completion of the new National Museum, Te Papa which opened in 1998. I have always wanted to write more than just concise, orderly reports for disinterested politicians. Since 1998 I  have combined state sector consultancy work with study of creative and life writing. I am now writing more or less fulltime.


I have children and grandchildren in Abu New Zealand, Rome, Brisbane and Kuala Lumpur and live in Wellington, with my wife Sue. I also have whanau in UK but you will have to read the book to find out more about them.