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Author and Publisher of Family Histories, Social Histories and Biographies

Martin Playne' s Publications

Martin is an experienced writer and editor. He has published extensively in his specialist scientific fields, which included silage fermentation, ruminant nutrition, plant chemistry, alternative fuels, fermentation technology, dairy chemistry, and probiotic bacteria and prebiotic carbohydrates. For many years, he was editor of the biotechnology journal, Australasian Biotechnology, and compiled with his co-authors four editions of biotechnology business directories in Australia.  Currently, he is a member of the Ancestor Editorial Team of the Genealogical Society of Victoria. Ancestor is a quarterly magazine.


Since retiring from his scientific career, he has been researching and writing family and social history. This has led him to release his first book on social history in the nineteenth century - Two Squatters. This book is the culmination of eight years research in both England and Australia on two men who became squatters and business partners in their mid life. They were quite different personalities. They migrated to Melbourne in 1839. The book is largely a social history of Gloucestershire in England, and the Port Phillip District (now known as Victoria) in Australia in the nineteenth century. It contains a tremendous amount of detailed original research, which brings new light on these men from the Age of Enlightenment. It demonstrates the usefulness of applying genealogical techniques to bring the two main characters in this non-fiction work to life and to place them firmly in history of the time.


The period spanning the years 1839 to 1854 was a fascinating one in the Port Phillip District. Melbourne had only been established  three years before they arrived. When they left the colony, it had achieved separation from New South Wales and become the Colony of Victoria. The discovery of gold a few years earlier had resulted in a population boom; and Melbourne had grown from nothing to a thriving city of 250,000 citizens. It is in this setting that we explore the lives of Dr George Playne and Daniel Jennings, and their influence on the emerging colony. George Playne was a successful but poor surgeon in the Gloucestershire Infirmary, while Daniel Jennings was a rich man - a land agent and an investor. This book follows their lives. It provides an interesting re-interpretation of the events of that time. It is lavishly illustrated with some 85 images - photographs, prints,  paintings, portraits and maps and plans. It is thoroughly referenced and comprehensively indexed.


The purpose of this website is to provide information on the writing and publishing activities of Martin Playne.


Site last updated 03 January 2020



Martin Playne was awarded second place for his book Two Squatters in the Don Grant Award. The award is for the Best Australian Historical Biography with a family history focus.


The author and publisher also has a blog site at

The book Two Squatters  was officially launched by Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison of Monash University in October 2014.


This book is available in print form via the website of BookPOD. ( This book is avaiable as an e-book from Amazon, Kobo and Apple


'Two Squatters' is  listed on TROVE, Books in Print and Nielsen’s BookData.


Martin's next book is "The Will Forgers" which is about the lives and families of a gang who defrauded the Bank of England in 1840 by forging wills and impersonating recipients. The  story is based in Britain initially, then moves to Norfolk Island, then Tasmania and finally mainland Australia. It is due for completion in 2021.


Martin is also working on a memoir of his life story.

Campaspe Lyall

Station on the Campaspe by Charles Lyall, ca. 1854 [Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria, H87.63/17]

fig 21 Wool drays

Wool drays crossing the Campaspe, wood engraving by E & D Syme, 1864 [Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN 25/01/64/13]

Collins St 1850s H92.301-128 Canvas Town

Collins Street, Melbourne in the 1850s, etching by unidentified artist [Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria,H92.301/128].

Canvas Town between Princes Bridge and South Melbourne, lithograph by De Gruchy & Leigh, 1850s [Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria, H25127]