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Frank S. Williamson (1865 – 1936)

Francis Samuel Williamson was born on 18 January 1865 at Fitzroy, Melbourne, the son of a coachmaker, William Williamson, and his wife Mary Ann (née McCoy). He was educated at Scotch College, and in 1882 became a pupil-teacher at Flemington State School. He resigned from the Victorian Education Department in 1884, and from 1888–1894 taught at Wesley College, Melbourne, where he was said to be a popular if somewhat erratic teacher. In 1894 Williamson went to Sydney to take up a post at Newington College, before returning to Wesley College in 1902. From about 1905, Williamson rejoined the Victorian Education Department and spent the remainder of his career as a temporary teacher at schools throughout Victoria, before retiring about 1930. He died in Melbourne on 6 February 1936.

In 1912, Williamson published his sole poetry collection, Purple and Gold; some of the poems therein having previously appeared in periodicals including the Bulletin, Heart of the Rose, and Trident. Williamson’s work used a number of poetic forms, from simple lyrics to the ballad style, to poems with densely layered classical allusions, and traversed themes from the changing of the seasons to life in the Australian bush and boat races on the Yarra. A few years after Williamson’s death, Purple and Gold was republished in an enlarged edition with additional work chosen by the poet’s friend Robert H. Croll.

Poetry Collections
  • Purple and Gold (Melbourne: Lothian, 1912).
  • Purple and Gold, 2nd ed. (Melbourne: Lothian, 1940).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Hugh Anderson, ‘Williamson, Francis Samuel (1865–1936)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 12 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1990), p. 509.
  • Gerald Byrne, ‘Frank Williamson,’ The Bulletin, 26 February 1936, pp. 2, 4.