SPENCER, Thomas Edward (1845-1911)


SPENCER, Thomas Edward (1845-1911)
humorous writer
was born at London on 30 December 1845. He came to Australia when 18 years of age, but soon afterwards returned to England and worked at his trade of stone mason. At the age of 24 he was elected vice-president of the Stonemasons' Society of London, and had some experience in the settlement of industrial disputes. He went to Australia again in 1875 and became a successful builder and contractor. He contributed verse and prose sketches to the Bulletin and other journals, and one set of verses "How McDougall topped the Score", included in the Bulletin Reciter, published in 1901, became very popular. A collection of his work, How McDougall Topped the Score and other Verses and Sketches, was published in 1906. This was followed by Budgeree Ballads in 1908, reprinted under the title How Doherty Died in 1910, and four volumes of prose humorous sketches, The Surprising Adventures of Mrs Bridget McSweeney (1906), A Spring Cleaning and Other Stories (1908), The Haunted Shanty and other Stories (1910), and That Droll Lady (1911). Bindawalla: An Australian Story (1912), is in a more serious vein. During the last years of his life Spencer spent much of his time as an arbitrator in industrial disputes. Between 1907 and 1911 he presided over many wages boards, and his experience and sense of justice enabled him to do very valuable work. He died at Sydney on 6 May 1911, leaving a widow, three sons and two daughters.
Spencer was a genial man full of kindliness and wit. The humour of his books is very much on the surface, but it was popular and he had a large audience. All his books were published at a shilling in the Bookstall series, and many thousands of each were sold. The 10th edition, 44th thousand, of That Droll Lady was published in 1923, and other volumes continued to be sold for many years after the author's death.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 1911; The Bulletin, 25 May 1911; E. Morris Miller,. Australian Literature.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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