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J. E. Ward J. E. Ward i(7582970 works by) (birth name: John Edward Ward) (a.k.a. Jack Ward)
Born: Established: 30 Aug 1866 Birmingham, West Midlands,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 2 Jan 1955 Balmain, Glebe - Leichhardt - Balmain area, Sydney Inner West, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1884
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Cartoonist, lithographer, author, screenwriter, filmmaker and vaudeville performer.

The son of a Birmingham publican, Jack Ward joined a firm of local lithographers at age 14. Four years later he and his family immigrated to Australia, settling Queensland. Over the next two decades he worked primarily as a lithographic artist and designer for such newspapers as the Boomerang, Brisbane Courier and Queenslander. The Brisbane Courier records in 1902, too, that Ward had recently created a phonograph recording of a local band (6 February 1902, p,4).

Ward lived in New Zealand between ca. 1905-1908, finding employment with the Auckland Star and the Graphic. Ward also appeared on the vaudeville stage, presenting a 'living pictures' turn. A par published in the Evening Post (Wellington) in 1907 records that his act, staged under the management of the Fullers, was called 'The Robing of the Gods' and was performed with Ruby White ('Mimes and Music.' 1 June 1907, p.11). After returning to Australia in 1909 he settled in Sydney and went on to establish a career as a sketch artist and cartoonist (notably for the Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Mail). He also found work as a lithographer.

Over the years Ward's interest in birds had increased. In 1914 he undertook an expedition through Papua and New Guinea, and returned the following year with a moving pictures camera so as to document his travels and to cover the life and culture of the people. 'At the suggestion of Dan Carroll, Ward decided to exploit his footage commercially by adding a dramatic narrative' (Pike and Cooper, p.117). This led to the making, and eventual release, of Australia's Own (1919). Ward later produced a number of documentaries, including The Quest for the Bird of Paradise (ca. 1923) and Death Devils in a Papuan Paradise (1924), which Pike and Cooper suggest likely contained footage from Australia's Own. In all Ward undertook 14 expeditions through Papua New Guinea. His non-Papua/New Guinea film, the urban comedy Those Terrible Twins was released in 1925.

Ward's interest in birds saw him become a keen collector and writer on various aspects relating to birds. He also experimented with fish cross-breeding. Known for many years as the 'birdman of Balmain,' by local residents, he died at his home, Shannon Grove, 10 Ewenton St, Balmain, aged 90.

[Some details sourced from Peter Reynolds - see below for publication details and online access. Thanks to Rosslyn Clayton for additional information and corrections]

Most Referenced Works


  • In 1951 Ward sold the rights to his bird paintings to Life magazine for £1,000. Among the art works identified by Ward and which are still in existence are: 'Visiting Day at the Brisbane Children's Hospital' (1888), 'Something About Cairns' (1888), 'No Cure, No Pay' (1888), 'Appearances Were Against Him' (1890), 'A Fair Daisy' (1903), 'A Kangaroo Hunt' (1905), 'Maori with Moa' (1907) and 'Ambushed: A Scene of Early Days in Queensland' (1908).

  • Peter Reynolds provides some excellent biographical information on Ward in 'From Cameron's Cove to Adolphus Street.' Leichhardt Historical Journal 15 (1986), 43-74, 77-84. See the section 'Shannon Grove and John Ward' pp. 57-58.

  • This Jack Ward should not be confused with a similarly-named comedian and female impersonator known to have been working South Australia around the turn of the century. He is referred to in at least one article as the 'well-known Adelaide comedian' (Petersburg Times 15 November 1901, p.3).

  • A notice published in the Queensland Figaro in 1887 records: 'Jack Ward (formerly of the Telegraph) has gone up to Silverton, in the Barrier Ranges, to edit the The Silver Age' ('Personals.' 29 October 1887, p.11). Silverton was located 24 kilometres west of Broken Hill, New South Wales.

    Research undertaken by Rosslyn Clayton suggests that this was not John Edward Ward. In email correspondence Clayton writes:

    I very strongly doubt the Jack Ward 'formerly of the Telegraph' is Uncle Jack as he would only have been 21. Besides this, he would have been gearing up for his first marriage (Elizabeth Davis) which took place on 11 December 1887. They were divorced in 1890. Jack remarried in 1891. From 1888, he was working for the Boomerang as an artist on a casual basis. He did an illustration of S.S. Quetta passengers after it sunk in early 1890 (ctd. 24 June 2016).

    Clayton has also discovered an article in the 15 May 1891 edition of the Telegraph (Brisbane) which records that J. E. Ward had been working for Warwick and Sapsford in Adelaide Street as a lithographer for about two years (p.3).

Last amended 23 Aug 2016 11:46:18
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