AustLit logo
NLA image of person
J. F. Archibald J. F. Archibald i(A4354 works by) (birth name: John Feltham Archibald) (a.k.a. Jules François Archibald)
Born: Established: 14 Jan 1856 Geelong, Geelong City - Geelong East area, Geelong area, Geelong - Terang - Lake Bolac area, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 10 Sep 1919 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


J. F. Archibald was born at Geelong, Victoria, and attended Catholic, National and private schools. At fourteen he began work as an apprentice printer. He later submitted articles to various newspapers, but he could not find stable work when, at eighteen, he moved to Melbourne. He worked for some time in the Victorian Education Department and later for a Queensland engineering firm, but, after spending some time in the Queensland goldfields, he returned to Sydney.

In 1880 he founded the Bulletin with John Haynes, but they lost their ownership because of mounting debts and imprisonment for libel. After their release from prison, they were retained by the new proprietor and Archibald quickly regained a share in the company and control over the newspaper's content. His experience in the goldfields had given him a sympathy for the "lone hand" of the bush. This led him to actively seek material from bush writers, providing readers an image of themselves in what became known as the "Bushman's Bible". He encouraged young writers, early recognizing the qualities of Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, Louis Becke and others. He generously sub-edited many works and this intervention and his requirements for publication have been credited for influencing Lawson's style and the shape of the short story in the 1890s. His ideas also influenced the nationalistic and racist tone of the early publications.

Archibald became less involved as editor in the early 1900s and worked on his own projects, such as the periodical Lone Hand. In 1906, outlandish behaviour influenced his committal to an asylum for a short time. He sold his interest in the Bulletin in 1914 and, except for a period of assistance with Smith's Weekly during 1916, he had little more to do with journalism. Archibald died in 1919. In his will, he left a large portion of his estate to the Benevolent Fund of the Australian Journalists Association. He also left money for the construction of a fountain in Sydney and the establishment of an annual prize for portrait painting.



Most Referenced Works


  • J. F. Archibald was included in the Bulletin's '100 Most Influential Australians' list in 2006.
  • In 1916 Archibald became a co-founder and director of the Teheroa Packing Company, a firm with business interests in fish, sausage and soup manufacturing. The company's other owner/directors included composer/music director F. Wynne Jones and Union Theatres general manager, W. Barrington Miller (sighted Sunday Times 11 June 1916, 7).

Affiliation Notes

  • Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism:

    JF Archibald is best known as the founder and editor of The Bulletin, yet he was also a literary journalist, contributing to The Bulletin’s first issue in 1880.

    Born in Victoria as John Feltham Archibald, he renamed himself ‘Jules François’ claiming French heritage from his mother. He began his journalism career as an apprentice printer, then moved to reporting. Archibald was ambitious and according to biographer Sylvia Lawson (2006), submitted a story to the Argus about the Melbourne Immigrant’s Home, but the paper had already accepted an article on the Home by the undercover journalist 'The Vagabond'  (John Stanley James).

    Archibald was initially disillusioned, but after a brief career change as a mining clerk in North Queensland, returned to Sydney and connected with journalist John Haynes, who was editing the Evening News.  Haynes sent Archibald to Mt Rennie, near Mudgee NSW, to cover the unjust hanging of an Indigenous man (1879).

    The following year,  Haynes and Archibald launched The Bulletin; Haynes focussing on advertising and distribution, and Archibald writing and editing copy. In the first issue, published on 31 January 1880, Archibald wrote the lengthy work of literary journalism “Wantabadgery Bushrangers”, detailing the execution of Andrew Scott (Captain Moonlite) and Thomas Rogan at Darlinghurst Gaol.

    As The Bulletin continued, Archibald concentrated on nurturing Australian journalists such as Henry Lawson, AB Paterson and JD Melvin, artist Norman Lindsay and literary editor AG Stephens.

    Sylvia Lawson writes that on his death in 1919, aged 63, Archibald left an endowment to The Benevolent Fund of the Australian Journalists’ Association ‘for the relief of distressed Australian Journalists’ rents, mortgages, medical, hospital and funeral expenses, even food, clothing and school fees’ (2006: 319).

    Selected Articles:


    • Lawson Sylvia (2006): The Archibald Paradox, Melbourne University Publishing (MUP), Melbourne

Last amended 9 Sep 2020 07:52:44
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: