Also writes as: F. Adams ; F. A. ; Agnes Farrell ; Frank Hawkesbury ; Annie Hassal ; Proteus
Born: Established: 27 Sep 1862
Francis Adams was born in Malta and educated in England and France before tuberculosis compelled him to travel to Australia in 1884 for the good of his health. Adams worked as a journalist and tutor, finally settling in Brisbane where he wrote for the Brisbane Courier, William Lane's radical Boomerang and the Sydney Bulletin. He is best remembered for his radical collection of poetry, Songs of the Army of the Night (1888), which encouraged radicalism and spoke against the oppression of the poor by the privileged minority. He also published a number of prose works which closely analyse the future of democracy in Australia, contrasting the fertile coastal areas with the dry inland areas. To survive, Adams wrote many potboilers, but works such as John Webb's End (1891) and A Child of the Age (1894) have helped to sustain his reputation as an influential figure in late nineteenth century Australia.
Adams returned to England in 1890. Suffering from the effects of tuberculosis and throat cancer, he took his own life in 1893. Several of Adams' fictions were reprinted in the 1970s and 1990s, indicating the continued interest in his well-known work and the growing interest in forgotten works, such as Madeline Brown's Murderer (1887/2001). Meg Tasker's biography of Adams, Struggle and Storm, appeared in 2001.
The following quote, attributed to Francis Adams, is included in Chris Wallace-Crabbe's article 'Australian Poetry Chronicle 1960' in The Melbourne Critical Review, no. 4, 1961, p. 120.
'Australia is the best place in the world for the rank and file, and for the rank and file of art and letters no less than of trade and labour.' (circa 1892)