peter marshall biography

Last Updated: Thu, 21 May 2020

Peter Marshall is a philosopher, historian, biographer, travel writer and poet. He has written seventeen highly acclaimed books which have been translated into 15 different languages.Two have been chosen as 'Books of the Year'. He has contributed many chapters to books as well as articles and reviews to national newspapers like the Observer and The Guardian.

His circumnavigation of Africa was made into a 6-part British TV series, an Italian TV series was based on his book on alchemy, and his voyage around Ireland was made into a radio series.

Widely recognized as a bold and original thinker, Marshall has made a major contribution to fields as diverse as anarchism, ecology, alchemy and archaeology. He has been hailed by Resurgence as one of the twenty five 'visionary voices' who have helped shape the new world view in the last quarter of a century. The Guardian has called him 'a passionate ecologist and animal liberationist'. In all his writings and actions, he has tried to widen the freedom of all beings.

Peter Hugh Marshall was born on 23 August 1946 in Bognor Regis, England, a stone's throw from the sea. His father Bill was a fighter pilot and race-horse trainer but he was brought up with his mother Vera and brother Michael in the home of his grandparents who had owned hotels.

Marshall became a boarder at Steyning Grammar School in the Sussex Downs. He then sailed around the world as a purser cadet in the P & O-Orient Shipping Company before teaching English in Senegal, West Africa. Returning to Britain, he took a BA in English, French and Spanish from the University of London and a MA and D.Phil in the History of Ideas from the University of Sussex.(See his early memoir from 1946-1970 Bognor Boy: How I Became an Anarchist)

From 1971-1990, Marshall taught part-time philosophy and the literature of ideas at Chelsea School of Art, Goldsmiths College of the University of London,the Extra-Mural Departments of the University of London and the University of Wales as well as the Open University.

In the 1970s Marshall was a founding member of the London-based Anarchist Research Group and then the libertarian community in Buckinghamshire called Redfield.

He went in 1980 with Jenny Zobel to Snowdonia in North Wales for a winter to finish his first book and stayed on for 21 years, first living in a remote cottage in the mountains and then down by the sea. During that period, he travelled to the Caribbean, Africa, India and China for different books. As a keen linguist, he speaks French, Spanish, some Welsh and a little Turkish. Jenny has sadly died.

He now lives with the photographer Elizabeth Ashton Hill on an organic smallholding by the River Tamar in Devon, England. He has been a vegetarian for the last 40 years. He spends about five months each year sailing in a small yacht in the Mediterranean. He has two children, Emily and Dylan,both teachers,and four grandchildren, Theodore, Charlotte, Rose and Jonathan Peter.

Peter Marshall was the chairman of the Toussaint L'Ouverture Theatre Company and a trustee of the Tree Shepherds. He is now an elected fellow of the Royal Geographical Society,a Friend of Freedom Press and a member of the Society of Authors.