Francis William Lauderdale Adams (1862-1893)andmdash;poet, novelist, social analyst and journalistandmdash;made a significant place for himself in Australian literary and cultural history. Born in England, he was a self-consciously modern writer of the fin de si cle; the theme of suicide figured frequently in his writings, and in death he embodied the romantic myth of the consumptive artist. Adams arrived in Australia in 1884, full of democratic and literary aspirations, and set out to explore the cultural landscape of his adopted country. A charismatic figure, he was loved by many for his personal beauty and eloquence and for the insouciant charm which smoothed over the sharp edges of his political radicalism and intellectual arrogance. But his impact on Australian cultural history was larger than the merely personal. He influenced a whole generation of idealistic young socialists in Australia, and had a leading role in the development of the Australian labour movement. Much of his best work was concerned with Australian social and political developments in the years leading up to Federation, and his book The Australians (1893) is a much-quoted classic of Australian social commentary. He was an early and influential spokesman for the Australian nationalism of the 1890s, articulating ideas of democracy and independence from England. In Struggle and Storm, Meg Tasker explores with texture and nuance both the pleasures of biography and the interesting problem of how to write a literary life a hundred years later. This engaging work is the first full-length biographical study of Francis Adams.
Melbourne University Press
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