Pacific Missionary George Brown

Citation: Pacific missionary George Brown 1835-1917 : the Wesleyan Methodist Church
2012 ANU E Press, Canberra, AC

George Brown (1835-19170) was many things during his long life; leader in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Australasia, explorer, linguist, political activist, apologist for the missionary enterprise, amateur anthropologist, writer, constant traveller, collector of artefacts, photographer and stirrer. The islands of the Pacific Ocean were the scene of his endeavours, with extended periods lived in Samoa and the New Britain region of today’s Papua New Guinea, followed by repeated visits to Tonga, Fiji, the Milne Bay region of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It could be argued that while he was a missionary in the Pacific region he was not a pacific missionary. Brown gained unwanted notoriety for involvement in a violent confrontation at one point in his career, and lived through conflict in many contexts but he also frequently worked as a peace maker. Policies he helped shape on issues such as church union, indigenous leadership, representation by lay people and a wider role for women continue to influence Uniting Church in Australia and churches in the Pacific region. His name is remembered with honour in several parts of the Pacific. Brown’s marriage to Sarah Lydia Wallis, daughter of pioneer missionaries to New Zealand, was long and rich. Each strengthened the other and they stand side by side in this account.

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Review by Joanna Cruickshank 

Pacific Missionary George Brown “provides a well-written, carefully researched account of his life and career that fills some existing gaps in Brown’s story and pays particular attention to the important role played by his wife, Lydia”.

(Joanna Cruickshank, review of Pacific Missionary George Brown 1835–1917 by Margaret Reeson, Journal of Pacific History, 49:2, pp. 248–249.)

Review by Lindsay Cameron

“…more than just a valuable academic resource, but a great read as well…Reeson has woven the fruit of exhaustive research into a storytelling style to produce a book that must become a key resource for future students of Methodism in the South Pacific”.

(Lindsay Cameron, review of Pacific Missionary George Brown: 1835–1917  by Margaret Reeson, Wesley and Methodist Studies, Volume 7, 2015, pp. 168–170.)

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