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Arthur H. Adams Arthur H. Adams i(A14697 works by) (a.k.a. Arthur Henry Adams; A. H. Adams; H. P. Jones)
Also writes as: Henry James James ; James James ; A. H. A. ; A. A. ; 'Stargazer'
Born: Established: 6 Jun 1872 Lawrence, Otago, South Island,
New Zealand,
Pacific Region,
; Died: Ceased: 4 Mar 1936 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1898
Heritage: New Zealander
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Adams H. Adams was a writer, librettist, poet, journalist, and editor.

As a writer, Adams initially combined English romantic history with his interest in the customs, history, and music of the Maori people of New Zealand. He eventually found his forte in urban social comedy, in which he tried to deal with Australian themes and Australian characters from an Australian point of view. Educated at the Otago Boys' High School and the University of Otago, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1894, Adams began collaborating, in around 1893, with composer Alfred Hill on several music theatre works. Their early works include the operettas The Whipping Boy (ca. 1893) and Hinemoa (ca. 1895). Adams and Hill are believed to have begun work on Tapu; Or, The Tale of a Maori Pahli, an opera that explores the unique sounds and rich cultural heritage of the Maoris, around 1896-97. It received its debut production with the Pollard Opera Company in 1903. For several years after graduating, Adams worked as a journalist for the Wellington Evening Post.

In 1898, he moved to Sydney, where, until 1900, he worked as literary secretary to J. C. Williamson, who staged a reworked version of Tapu in 1904 (additional libretto by David Souter). After visiting China to report on the Boxer Rebellion, Adams went to London and published his first novel, Tussock Land, in 1904. Returning to Sydney in 1906, he joined the Bulletin as a journalist, later editing the magazine's 'Red Page' (1907-08) before becoming successively editor of the Lone Hand (1909-1911) and the Sydney Sun. He eventually returned to the Bulletin as one of its senior literary critics.

In addition to six published novels, Adams also wrote several books of verse, the most important being London Streets. Several of his novels, including The Australians, are set in pre-World War I Sydney. Despite being a playwright of note, Adams, as with many other local writers, found it difficult to get his theatrical works produced in Australia. This was an issue he raised throughout his career as a journalist and editor. Although Adams's Three Plays for the Australian Stage was published in 1914, arguably his best writing for the stage is probably the unpublished 'Gallipoli Bill', which was performed in Sydney in 1926. One of his plays, Mrs Pretty and the Premier, was also produced in London in 1916. Adams's music theatre works include the pantomime Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1898) and the poetic drama The Minstrel (ca. 1908), with music by Carlien Jurs. Further works include the lyrics for a number of songs, notably 'Australian National Song', which won the Commonwealth Competition conducted by the Musical Association of NSW.

Most Referenced Works


  • Entries connected with this record have been sourced in part from historical research into Australian-written music theatre and film conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.
  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Arthur Henry Adams, (1872-1936).
Last amended 8 Sep 2014 15:37:00
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