Acorn Cabaret Bar

Lydia Syson: Mr Peacock’s Possessions


Critically acclaimed historical author Lydia Syson will be talking about her latest book, ‘Mr Peacock’s Possessions’, exploring themes like family relationships, faith and belonging.

‘Mr Peacock’s Possessions’ is about possession, both literal and psychological, and is a new take on the much-loved literary genre, the Robinsonade. Through an encounter between two migrating groups – a family of roving settlers originally from England, and a pair of Polynesian brothers, members of a work party whose Pacific island home was converted to Christianity a generation or so earlier – ‘Mr Peacock’s Possessions’ throws new light on a particularly fascinating historical moment. This period of time has received little exploration in contemporary British fiction and too often has been obscured by stereotypes and fantasy. In the late nineteenth century, the Pacific world was in great flux: whalers, slavers, missionaries, islanders, traders, settlers and beachcombers were on the move and in conflict, and islands and people were both seemingly up for grabs.

Lydia’s previous works are each in some way inspired by the radical backgrounds of earlier generations of her family. In ‘Mr Peacock’s Possessions’, her adult fiction debut, she has borrowed from her New Zealand-born husband’s family history. Come along to hear about her process, inspiration and the themes that she explores in her book.