BEDFORD, Randolph (1868-1941)


BEDFORD, Randolph (1868-1941)
author and politician
son of Alfred Bedford, was born at Sydney on 28 July 1868. He was educated at the Newtown state school and at the age of 16 was working in the western district of New South Wales. He had a short story accepted by the Bulletin in 1886, the first of a long series of contributions. In 1888 he obtained a position on the Argus, Broken Hill, and in the following year went to Melbourne and was about two years on the Age. Much freelancing followed, verse, short stories and sketches, written while travelling in Australia searching for payable mining fields. Between 1901 and 1904 Bedford was in Europe and wrote a series of travel sketches, which in 1916 were collected and published under the title of Explorations in Civilization. His first novel, True Eyes and the Whirlwind, appeared in London in 1903, and his Snare of Strength was published two years later. Three short novels appeared afterwards in the Bookstall series, Billy Pagan, Mining Engineer (1911), The Silver Star (1917), Aladdin and the Boss Cockie (1919). He had also made a collection of his Bulletin verse in 1904 but the unbound sheets were all burned during a fire at the printers, except about six copies which were bound without title-page and apparently given to friends. A few years before his death Bedford stated that he did not regret the fire as some of the verses included "could only be excused on account of his extreme youth at the time of writing". He was then preparing a selection of his verse for the press which, however, was not published.
In 1917 Bedford entered the Queensland legislative council, pledged to work for the abolishment of that chamber which took place in 1922. In the following year he was elected to the legislative assembly for Warrego as a Labour member. He held this seat until his resignation in 1937 to contest the Maranoa seat for the federal house of representatives. He was defeated, but was again elected to his old seat in the legislative assembly. He died on 7 July 1941, and was survived by his wife and a grown-up family. As a politician Bedford showed himself to be a great fighter, but he was too exuberant, too impatient, and too impetuous for the council table, and was never included in any ministry. He was an eloquent speaker who neither gave nor asked for quarter, and he was always loyal to his party, generous and kind to his friends. A big man physically and mentally, who always looked slightly over life size, he was one of the most colourful personalities to enter politics in Australia. As a literary man he did a large amount of work. Most of his poetry is not important, though the best of it may be called good vigorous rhetorical verse. His Explorations in Civilization has been praised, but it is only fairly good journalism scarcely worth collecting. The first two novels, True Eyes and the Whirlwind and The Snare of Strength, are both vigorously and freshly written, but such excellent short stories as "Fourteen Fathoms by Quetta Rock", included in Australian Short Stories, and "The Language of Animals" in An Australian Story Book, suggest that his best work was done in that medium.
The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 8 July 1941; The Bulletin, 16 July 1941; The Worker, Brisbane, 8 July 1941; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; Nettie Palmer, Modern Australian Literature; See also, Randolph Bedford, Naught to Thirty-three.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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