John Barham was interested in agriculture from the time he worked on farms during school holidays, he did two years national service in the armyand then a degree course in Agriculture at Wye College. In 1952 he went out to Brazil to work on a farm of 136,000 acres where he gained practical experience of farm management. In 1956 he joined the Brazilian affiliate of an American company, and in 1966 joined their European headquarters in Brussels from which he retired when it was sold in 1987. He then started and ran a small printing business in Brussels which he sold in 1995. John returned to the U.K. in 2004.
Retirement provided John with time to follow his interest in the family history and as a result he was given the letters Alice Greene, his great-aunt, had written from South Africa to her family in England between 1887 and 1902. He was then told about the archive in the Library of the University of Cape Town which contained letters written to Alice by her family as well as her correspondence with Elizabeth Molteno. It is these letters which John has edited and published.