ADAMS, Arthur Henry (1872-1936)


ADAMS, Arthur Henry (1872-1936)
poet, novelist and journalist
son of C. W. Adams, chief surveyor and commissioner of crown lands, Otago, New Zealand, was born at Lawrence, New Zealand, on 6 June 1872. He was educated at the Otago high school and Otago university, where he graduated B.A. and began to study law. He, however, abandoned this, took up journalism at Wellington, and began contributing verse to the Sydney Bulletin. In 1898 he came to Australia as literary secretary to J. C. Williamson (q.v.), and wrote a pantomime, The Forty Thieves, which was produced in Melbourne at the end of that year. In 1899 his Maoriland and Other Verses was published at Sydney. In the following year he went to China as representative of a group of New Zealand papers during the Boxer uprising. Invalided home to New Zealand he shortly afterwards went to London and published in 1902 The Nazarene, A Study of a Man, written mostly in blank verse, which was followed in 1904 by Tussock Land, issued in Unwin's first novel library and reprinted in the same year. London Streets, published in 1906, though only a slender volume, contains some of his best verse.
Adams returned to Australia and then went to New Zealand where he was on the New Zealand Times for a short period. He came to Australia again and from 1906 to 1909 was editor of the "Red Page" of the Bulletin, and was subsequently editor of the Lone Hand, and of the Sydney Sun. In 1909 he published The New Churn and other stories, in 1910 Galahad Jones (title page dated 1909), and in 1911 A Touch of Fantasy (dated 1912). In 1913 a selection of Adams's shorter poems was published under the title The Collected Verses of Arthur H. Adams. This was the last volume of his poems except for a war poem, My Friend, Remember, brought out in 1914. Various volumes of fiction appeared at intervals; The Knight of the Motor Launch (1913), Grocer Greatheart (1915), The Australians (1920), and A Man's Life (1929). Adams also wrote many plays, but Three Plays for the Australian Stage (1914) were the only ones published. The third play in this volume, Mrs Pretty and the Premier, was produced in Melbourne in 1914 and by Arthur Bourchier at His Majesty's Theatre, London, on 31 January 1916. The London production ran for about a month. Adams visited England again in 1928 and after his return confined his work to journalism. He died at Sydney on 4 March 1936. He married in 1908 Lilian Paton, who survived him with one son and two daughters. In addition to the volumes already mentioned Adams published some light fiction under the names "Henry James James" and "James James". These included Double Bed Dialogues (1915), English edition Honeymoon Dialogues (1916), Lola of the Chocolates (1920), and The Brute (1922). He also published under the name of "James James" A Guide Book to Women (1921), reprinted 1927.
Adams scarcely fulfilled his early promise. He wrote some excellent poetry and is represented in several anthologies; his plays are distinctly above the average, and his novels are quite capable. The constant demands of journalistic work were against his doing himself complete justice, and probably prevented him from reaching his full powers in any one of these departments.
The Evening Post, Wellington, 5 March 1936; Otago Daily Times, 7 March 1936; The Argus, Melbourne, 5 March 1936; The Telegraph, Sydney, 5 March 1936; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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