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WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: This book is exceptional.  It is well-researched, exquisitely written, and quickly absorbs the reader into its pages. It has a professional appeal without seeking to be ostentatious …. Overall, this book epitomises a well-written family history.

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In The Middling Sort historian Marian Quartly turns her gaze on the history of her own South Australian family. A pioneer of ethnographic and feminist history, she is a warm, perceptive, yet unflinching observer of their triumphs and tragedies. The Quartlys and Halls were farmers, preachers and storekeepers, drawn from the middling stratum of English society. It was they who gave South Australia its distinctive tone and temper. In this delightful book, Quartly shows how family history can illuminate the whole society.  

Graeme Davison AO 

Emeritus Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor

Author of Lost Relations: Fortunes of My Family in Australia’s Golden Age, (Allen and Unwin,2015); and My Grandfather’s Clock: Four Centuries of a British-Australian Family (M.U.P, 2023)​ 


The Middling Sort brings history to life with the intertwined stories of the Quartly, Hall, Kurll and Tyler families to show the numerous ways in which men’s and women’s commitment to community, their membership of the dissenting Congregational church, their varied economic enterprise in the midst of mothers bearing very large numbers of children - and often witnessing their premature deaths - all combined to make South Australian history. Written by one of Australia’s best historians, this is an engrossing read. ​

Marilyn Lake AO

Professorial Fellow in History at the University of Melbourne

Author, most recently, of Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform ( Harvard University Press, 2019) 


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