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Arthur H. Adams (1872 – 1936)

Arthur Henry Adams was born at Lawrence, New Zealand, on 6 June 1872. He was educated in Wellington and Dunedin, and obtained a B.A. from the University of Otago in 1894, abandoning further studies in law to begin a career as a journalist and writer. In 1898 Adams relocated to Sydney, where he obtained a position as literary secretary to the theatrical entrepreneur J. C. Williamson, and the following year he published his first collection of poetry, Maoriland and Other Verses.

After travelling to China to report on the Boxer Rebellion for Australian and New Zealand newspapers, Adams went to London where he continued to work as a journalist. From London, Adams published his first novel, In Tussock Land (1904) and two further volumes of poetry, The Nazarene: A Study of a Man (1902), and London Streets (1906). Adams was back in Sydney from late 1906, where he became the editor of The Bulletin's Red Page - devoted to literary criticism and news - and from 1909-1911 he was editor of the literary journal Lone Hand. In 1913, Adams published The Collected Verses of Arthur H. Adams, the preface of which announced his retirement from writing poetry to concentrate on fiction and prose. In fact, Adams continued to write poetry until as late as 1930, much of which was published in the Bulletin. He died in Sydney in 1936.

Adams enjoyed a successful career as a journalist and editor, and came to exercise considerable influence as a literary and dramatic critic. Like many writers of the time, his literary career was wide ranging, embracing poetry, novels, stories and dramatic works. His poetry has been noted for its urbanity and highly polished craftsmanship, placing his work in contrast to the bush ballad tradition popular at the time.

Poetry Collections
  • Maoriland and Other Verses Sydney William Macleod 1899
  • The Nazarene: A Study of a Man London Phillip Whelby 1902
  • London Streets London T. N. Foulis 1906
  • Collected Verses of Arthur Henry Adams Melbourne Whitcombe and Tombs 1913
Suggested Further Reading
  • H. M. Green (rev. Dorothy Green A History of Australian Literature: Pure and Applied Sydney Angus and Robertson Revised Edition, 1984 Volume 1, pp. 463-65.
  • Terry Sturm The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English Auckland Oxford University Press 2nd Edition, 1998 pp. 418-20, 778.
  • Barry G. Andrews and William H Australian Literature to 1900: A Guide to Information Sources (1980), pp. 99-101.