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Furnley Maurice Furnley Maurice i(A7413 works by) (birth name: Frank Leslie Thompson Wilmot)
Also writes as: F. Lidbury Hinde ; The Worm ; Frank Wilmot ; Frank L. T. Wilmot
Born: Established: 6 Apr 1881 Collingwood, Fitzroy - Collingwood area, Melbourne - North, Melbourne, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 22 Feb 1942 Surrey Hills, Box Hill - Burwood area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria,
Gender: Male
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'Furnley Maurice' is the pseudonym of Frank Leslie Thompson Wilmot, the second of five children of Henry William Wilmot (1855-1907), a shopkeeper in North Fitzroy, and Elizabeth Mary, nee Hind, both born in Australia. His father was a follower of William Morris's guild socialism and a member of the first socialist party in Victoria.

Wilmot began writing as a child, sending a poem to the Bulletin at eleven. He also dreamed of editing a literary magazine, producing a number of booklets and several issues of a periodical, The Microbe, on his own hand printing press. At sixteen he saw his first poem published in Bernard O'Dowd's The Tocsin. But he had to wait until 1905 before his poems appeared in the The Bulletin, submitted under his pseudonym to avoid A. G. Stephens's alleged prejudice to his poetry. Philip Mead (1997) notes that Wilmot was 'associated particularly with the Melbourne nationalist school of writers - Bernard O'Dowd, Louis Esson, Frederick Sinclaire, and Vance and Nettie Palmer...'. He published several volumes of poetry as 'Furnley Maurice', the most significant being Melbourne Odes (1934) which anticipates the rise of literary modernism in Australia. His preface in this volume discusses the principles of modern European and American poetry, reflecting his focus in other essays where he praised writers such as Carl Sandburg, Joseph Conrad and Ezra Pound. During the 1980s and 1990s, several critics called for a reassessment of Wilmot's significance as an Australian modernist. Philip Mead edited a selection of his poetry and prose in 1997.

Wilmot attended Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy State schools, but was forced by the family's economic circumstances to leave at thirteen to join E. W. Cole's Book Arcade. He gradually ascended from messenger boy to manager, remaining until its closure in 1929. He then bought its circulating library which he ran for three years in conjunction with some bookselling in Little Collins Street. This did not pay well and in early 1932 Wilmot was appointed manager of the Melbourne University Press. His initial salary of £300 was raised to £450 in 1934 as the Press expanded and profits from publishing outstripped book-selling. Wilmot set high standards in the technical production of books. Some half dozen were published annually, predominantly educational texts but including such classics as S. H. Roberts's The Squatting Age in Australia (1935), Morris Miller's Australian Literature (1940), Fitzpatrick's The British Empire in Australia (1941) and R. D. Fitzgerald's Moonlight Acre (1938).

In 1910 Wilmot married Ida Lizzie Meeking. The couple settled at Surrey Hills and had two sons for whom he wrote The Bay and Padie Book : Kiddie Songs. Serle's entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography describes Wilmot: 'A down-to-earth democrat, always a man of the people, attracted to popular pastimes, Wilmot had been involved on the fringes of the Victorian Socialist Party.' Wilmot saw World War I as folly and his pacifist leanings were expressed in 'To God : From the (Warring) Weary Nations' (1916). In 1916 he founded the Melbourne Literary Club and printed its journal, Birth : A Little Journal of Australian Poetry. In the early 1920s Wilmot was a leading member of the literary club established by Percival Serle, contributing to the compilation of the latter's An Australasian Anthology : Australian and New Zealand Poems (1927). He was also a member of Louis Esson's Pioneer Players and became a prominent member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. Wilmot opposed book censorship and gave the inaugural lectures on Australian literature at the University of Melbourne for the Commonwealth Literary Fund to which he had been appointed. Mead comments that these lectures 'were clearly a first draft of a history of Australian literature' which he would have completed had he lived. Wilmot died suddenly of heart disease in 1942.

Most Referenced Works


  • See also the Fernland Story Book which includes contributions by Furnley Maurice.

Awards for Works

Melbourne and Memory Ode to Melbourne and Memory 1934 sequence poetry
— Appears in: Melbourne Odes 1934; (p. 13-17) All About Books , 12 October vol. 6 no. 10 1934; (p. 191) Australian Pavements : An Urban Anthology 1964; (p. 42-43)
1934 winner Melbourne Centenary Competition Poem

Known archival holdings

Albinski 152
Last amended 5 Mar 2017 14:06:12
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