STEVENS, Bertram (1872-1922)


STEVENS, Bertram (1872-1922)
literary and art critic
son of William Mathison Stevens, was born at Inverell, New South Wales, on 9 October 1872. Educated at state primary schools he was a great reader and became a man of wide knowledge and culture. His first position was in a solicitor's office and it was intended that he should study law, but he began writing for the press. He was well-known in literary circles and in 1904 edited My Sundowner and other Poems by John Farrell (q.v.) with a memoir. In 1906 he prepared An Anthology of Australian Verse, in which he was much hampered by copyright restrictions, but he had a much freer hand in The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse, which appeared in 1909. the first anthology of Australasian verse of any importance. In the same year he had the difficult task of succeeding A. G. Stephens (q.v.) as editor of the Red Page of the Bulletin. At the end of 1911 he became editor of the Lone Hand and conducted this journal for seven years. He was one of the founders and was joint-editor of Art in Australia from its beginning in 1916 until his death. He also did literary criticism for the Sydney Mail and other journals, published editions of Australian poets, prepared other anthologies, and edited books on leading Australian artists. Much of his literary work is listed in Serle's Bibliography of Australasian Poetry and Verse and Miller's Australian Literature. He died suddenly at Sydney, on 14 February 1922. He left a widow, two sons and a daughter. At the time of his death he was vice-president of the New South Wales Institute of Journalists. He had been preparing A History of Australian Literature for some years before his death, but this was never published. Many of his papers are at the Mitchell library, Sydney.
Stevens was a modest man of quiet charm. He was completely unselfish, always anxious to help the literary beginner or struggling poet. He was a sound, though not great critic of both literature and art, for both of which he did an immense amount of work, which had much influence on the cultural life of Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 1922; The Bulletin, 23 February 1922; Henry, Lawson, The Bulletin, 2 March 1922; Art in Australia, February 1922.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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