The eldest son of Matilda and Sir Joseph Abbott, J. H. M. Abbott was educated at the King's School, Parramatta and, for a brief period, attended the University of Sydney. He worked as a jackaroo, served in the Boer War and then became a journalist in London, where he published several books, including the highly regarded semi-autobiographical Letters from Queer Street (1908). He returned to Australia in about 1909. Apart from several novels and historical works on early Australia, he published prolifically in journals such as the Bulletin and Lone Hand. In 1926 he married Katherina Wallace (aka 'Rena Wallace, q.v.), who in 1905 had published A Bush Girl's Songs. In 1942 he was awarded a Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship. Perhaps his most important work is Tommy Cornstalk (1902), a book about Australian soldiers in the Boer War, while novels such as The Governor's Man (1919) and Ensign Calder (1922) also had a wide readership. Abbott died at the Rydalmere Mental Hospital in 1953.