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Henry Melville Henry Melville i(A42707 works by) (birth name: Henry Saxelby Melville Wintle)
Also writes as: M ; Henricus
Born: Established: 1799
c
England,
c
c
United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 22 Dec 1873 London,
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England,
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c
United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,

Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1828 Departed from Australia: ca. 1849
Heritage: English
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BiographyHistory

Melville was reputed to be 'the black sheep of a wealthy English home-county family' according to Richard Fotheringham's Australian Plays For The Colonial Stage 1834-1899 (2006): 5. He migrated to Tasmania with some capital and in March 1830 bought the Colonial Times. In the same year Melville printed and published Henry Savery's Quintus Servinton, the first Australian novel published in Australia. In 1831 he bought The Tasmanian and joined with R. L. Murray to publish the Southern Literary and Political Journal but withdrew in 1832.

In May 1833 Melville began the Hobart Town Magazine, the first monthly magazine with literary pretensions to be published in Australia. It ceased publication in August 1834. Melville contributed a number of publications to it, including 'The Bushranger; or Norwood Vale' which when presented later in Hobart became the first play with an Australian theme to be published and staged in Australia. Melville collaborated with R. L. Murray again to produce The Tasmanian and Austral-Asiatic Review from 1834 to 1837. In 1835 he established a free advertising paper, The Trumpeter. Melville was involved in insolvency proceedings in 1838 and sold The Tasmanian to Maurice Smith and The Trumpeter to J. C. Macdougall who also acquired the Colonial Times.

In 1834 Melville was criticised for a near monopoly of the Hobart press (The Colonist, 13 May 1834) but according to E. Morris Miller's Pressmen and Governors: Australian Editors and Writers in Early Tasmania (1952): 44 he was also 'a champion for the freedom of the press and the liberty of the subject'. Melville was a vehement critic of Lieutenant-Governor Arthur's administration which refused to provide him with the statistics he required for a brief history of the colony's last ten years. While in goal for contempt of court over comment on a Supreme Court case he wrote 'A few words on prison discipline' and completed the History of the Island of Van Diemen's Land from the Year 1824 to 1835 (1835). This publication combined with other essays became Australasian and Prison Discipline (1851).

E. Flinn in The Australian Dictionary of Biography (1966): 221 asserts that Melville pursued studies in occult philosophy, astronomy and Freemasonry after his retirement from journalism and newspaper ownership. His agricultural pursuits were not a success and in 1849 he left Tasmania, fulfilling journalistic engagements in other Australian cities before residing in London from approximately 1850. The rest of Melville's life was devoted to the study of occultism. Veritas (1874), a work on the lost mysteries of Freemasonry, which he regarded as his crowning achievement, was published posthumously.

E. Morris Miller (1952): 45 argues that Melville 'should be remembered as an outstanding Australian printer, publisher and author during the era before the establishment of responsible government'. An essayist in the Melbourne Argus (14 February 1874) commented on Melville's forty-year-pursuit of the masonic mysteries: 'He was, in truth, a great scholar of the Middle Ages who had unaccountably wandered down in to the age of steam engines and electric telegraphs, and of the new Australian dominion.'

Most Referenced Works

Notes

  • Year of birth given variously as 1799 or 1800.
Last amended 12 Oct 2006 11:50:39
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