Carrington, Francis Thomas Dean

Francis Thomas Dean Carrington (1843-1918), by Gaul & Dunn, 1868-69Francis Thomas Dean Carrington (1843-1918)
was born in London. He studied in Paris before moving to Melbourne in the 1860s and pursuing a career. He was a cartoonist for Melbourne Punch, and cartoonist and writer for the Australasian Sketcher.

His political cartoons were published across several newspapers and magazines, such as the Australian Journal, the Melbourne Punch, the Touchstone, and the Australasian. He also illustrated several books including Long Odds by Marcus Clarke and Punchialities from Punch.

He wrote for the Argus, under the pseudonym ‘Leonardo’ and for the Australasian under ‘Ixion’. His final cartoon, ‘The Last of the Session’, appeared in Punch on 15 December 1887.

In June 1880, alongside journalists George Allen (Melbourne Daily Telegraph), John McWhirter (Age), and JD Melvin (Argus), Carrington joined the special train accompanying the police to Glenrowan, to cover the last siege of Ned Kelly.

His article ‘Catching the Kellys: a personal narrative of one who went in the special train’ was published in The Australasian on Saturday 3 July, 1880. This article, written in the first person,  evocatively describes the siege and capture of Kelly at Glenrowan. It was republished across several newspapers, including the Argus and the West Australian. Carrington’s illustrations of the siege and its aftermath for the Australasian Sketcher are among his most famous drawings. Together, his words and images underpin the way Ned Kelly is remembered in Australian history and cultural mythology.

In 2003, Jones edited the mini-book, Ned Kelly The Last Stand, Written and Illustrated by an Eye Witness, which republished the Glenrowan account by Carrington within a personal and historical context.

Selected works:


Jones, I, (ed) (2003) Ned Kelly, The Last Stand, Written and Illustrated by an Eyewitness, Lothian: South Melbourne.

McWhirter, John

Journalist John McWhirter (1851-1917) was born in Scotland. At the age of two, he and his family migrated to Melbourne. McWhirter’s journalism career began with The Bendigo Advertiser. He later joined Melbourne’s Age and was one of the four journalists  recruited to cover Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan in June 1880. The others were George Allen (Melbourne Daily Telegraph); Thomas Carrington (Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil), and  JD Melvin (Argus).

McWhirter and the three other journalists joined the special train that took a contingent of police to Glenrowan following the killing of Aaron Sherritt. The eye-witness accounts of McWhirter and the other journalists, particularly Tom Carrington’s reminiscence, have provided the foundation for the Kelly legend and its portrayal over the last 150 years in books, films, television programs, articles and artworks.

According to his obituary, McWhirter also worked for the press in New Zealand and New South Wales. Like the other journalists who covered the Glenrowan siege, he was a man of action and was remembered for swimming a flooded river to file a story for an (unnamed) Sydney paper on which he was a reporter.

Representative Article:

McWhirter’s article on the Kelly’s last stand was published in the Age on 28 June, 1880. Because of damage to the original, it is not easily available on microfiche in any form that can be easily read. It was republished, however, and at least sections of it can be traced in other newspapers, e.g. in the Leader.


  • “Obituary”, Bendigo Advertiser, 6 January, 1917.
  • Jones I (1995 / 2003) Ned Kelly: A Short Life, Lothian, South Melbourne.
  • McMenomy, K (2001). Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated History, Hardie Grant BooksSouth Yarra.
  • Shaw, I. W. (2012) Glenrowan: The Legend of Ned Kelly and the Siege that Shaped a Nation, Pan Macmillan Australia, Sydney.

Willoughby, Howard

Howard Willoughby 1839-1908  began his journalism career with the  Age in 1861, but soon transferred to the Argus. 

As a literary journalist, Willoughby  wrote in the 1860s on the Maori Wars. His next major assignment was to report on the convict system in Western Australia when that colony was considering stopping transportation (the last colony to do so). His articles were published as a series in the Argus, then as the 1865 pamphlet, Transportation: The British Convict in Western Australia. In the preface to the supplement of the series, the Argus describes his articles as ‘letters’.

In 1866 Willoughby was also one of the first Hansard staff of the Victorian parliament. He became the first editor of the Melbourne Daily Telegraph in 1869, but returned to the Argus nearly a decade later, writing a weekly political column under the pseudonym, Timotheus and becoming editor in 1898. He remained as Argus editor until his death in 1908.

Representative articles



Flinders, Matthew

Flinders01Matthew Flinders 1774 – 1814 navigated the Australian coastline and wrote the two-volume A Voyage to Terra Australis. He died before seeing it published.

In the introduction to his edition of Terra Australis, Tim Flannery (2000) describes the navigator as ‘painfully honest’ and ‘the eternally dashing man of action’ (2000: vii). Like Watkin Tench, Flinders was a gifted narrator with an eye for detail, scene and character.

Between 1795 and 1798, Flinders, with surgeon explorer George Bass, charted the Eastern Australian coastline and circumnavigated Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) to prove its separation from the mainland. After Bass disappeared en route to South America on a separate voyage, Flinders continued exploring, ultimately circumnavigating Australia.

In 1803, en route to England to reunite with his wife, Flinders was imprisoned by the French Governor of Mauritius while stopping for repairs. During his six year internment, Flinders began working on A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814). The full manuscript includes his time in captivity in Mauritius.


  • Flinders, M, (2000) Terra Australis, Tim Flannery (introduction), Text Publishing, Melbourne

Dickenson, Edith Charlotte

Edith DickenseonLittle is known about Edith C.M Dickenson (1851 -1903)  apart from a small biography written by her great grandson, Steve Lipscombe, on the Australian Boer War Memorial website.

According to Lipscombe, Edith married Doctor Augustus Maximillian Dickenson, Medical Officer of Health at Deloraine, after immigrating to Tasmania from England in 1886. She had previously married a reverend, but it is unclear why the marriage ended, or whether her four children accompanied her to Australia.

While travelling, Edith began her association with the Adelaide Advertiser, filing travel articles and photographs, which later formed the basis for her book, What I saw in India and the East (1900).

In 1899, Edith joined nurses in South Africa at a camp where her husband was a military doctor, and turned to war reporting. Rather than describe battles as WJ Lambie, JD Melvin and A.B Paterson did , she wrote about the impact of the war on people.  The Adelaide Advertiser called Edith, ‘our special correspondent in South Africa, Mrs. Edith C.M Dickenson.’

Her article, “The Refuge Camp” (1902), vividly describes the hardship and starvation of local life, chronicling the dead animals as far as the eye could see: “Horses, cows with young calves near them, mules, goats in various states of decay …Two or three times I saw dying animals, once a goat dragging itself along and staring beseechingly at a passing train with its head through the wires.”

In another article she sketches mini character profiles that highlight colonial privilege: “Mr Sylvester Browne is an immense man…seated in a double rickshaw he seems to surge out from either side of it, and the unfortunate Kaffir should get double rates.” (1900). In the same article, Edith describes the smell of the wharves like a, ‘heated haystack’ and also chronicles her visit to a local orphanage.

She was prolific in her production of articles for the Advertiser, which appear a month after the date of writing. In another article, Military Hospitals (1900)  Edith writes in first person, again highlighting conditions for soldiers and the nurses’ attempts to care for the wounded, interspersed with social justice calls that highlight the poverty facing wounded soldiers upon their return that was a characteristic of her writing.

According to Lipscombe, Edith’s husband died at Beluthie camp in 1902, the year the Boer War ended. Edith died the following year, but it is not clear if that was upon her return to Australia or while still in Africa.

Representative Articles


Melvin, J D

Joseph Dalgarno Melvin (1852 – 1909)  began his journalism career in Scotland as soon as he left school at the Moray Advertiser and the Perth Advertiser.  According to biographer Peter Corris, Melvin joined the Argus soon after arriving in Melbourne with his family, and reported on military and political news in the city.

In 1880, Melvin wrote a work of literary journalism on the last stand of the Kelly Gang at Glenrowan, Victoria, “The Destruction of the Kelly Gang”, joining the police hunt for the bushrangers during the siege and capture. He was accompanied by three other journalists George Allen (Melbourne Daily Telegraph); Thomas Carrington (Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil), and John McWhirter (Age).

In 1885, Melvin was the war correspondent in Sudan for the Daily Telegraph and The Bulletin, despite initially not having official credentials. He teamed up with fellow war reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, W.J Lambie.

In 1892, Melvin wrote a series of articles titled, “The Kanaka Labour Traffic” for the Argus’ Saturday paper, the Australasian,  about the practice of recruiting South Sea islanders for Queensland’s sugar cane plantations. Additional articles were published in the Argus and the series was syndicated.

He worked undercover signing on to the Helena as crew for its round trip from Queensland to the Solomon Islands. Peter Corris published Melvin’s full series of articles as  The Cruise of the Helena (1977).

In later years, Melvin joined political staff as a Hansard writer in 1905, then worked for the politician William Kidston in Queensland as his speech writer.

Selected Articles:


The series of 13 articles Melvin wrote for the Argus on “The Kanaka Labour Traffic” appeared as the following:



Corris, P (ed) (1977) The Cruise of the Helena, Hawthorn Press, Melbourne



Archibald, Jules François

J F ArchibaldJules François Archibald (1856-1919) 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 (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).

JF Archibald and John Haynes at Darlinghurst Gaol
JF Archibald and John Haynes at Darlinghurst Gaol

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, A B Paterson and J D 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).

Representative Articles:


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


James, JS (aka Vagabond aka Julian Thomas)

The vagabond portraitJohn Stanley James (1843-1896) wrote for a range of papers, but particularly for the Melbourne Argus and the Sydney Morning Herald, under the nom de plume of Julian Thomas.

He is best known for his undercover work for the Argus in 1876/7 as the Vagabond. During that year, James anonymously entered some of Melbourne’s harshest institutions as an inmate or low-level employee. He wrote 5,000-word pieces in the first person exposing the difficult conditions of life in Pentridge Gaol, Melbourne Hospital, the poor houses and the asylums, until he could no longer keep his identity a secret. His articles were enormously popular with readers. They prompted several enquiries. While his undercover methods were criticised, James was never found to have his facts wrong.

James was asked to write similar articles for the Sydney Morning Herald, but these weren’t as successful. He later reported extensively from the South Pacific and the Far East, including New Caledonia, the New Hebrides and the Solomon Islands, travelling as far as China. His books include the five-volume series Vagabond Papers, Occident and Orient, Cannibals and Convicts, and the play No Mercy.

When he died twenty years after his work in Melbourne as the Vagabond he was still remembered fondly. Crowds thronged to watch the funeral cortege and a monument was raised on his grave by public subscription.

Selected Articles:


  • “Death of Well-known Journalist”, Obituary, Argus, 5 September, 1896.
  • “Obituary”, Zeehan and Dundas Herald (TAS), 7 September, 1896.
  • A.V.G, “In Memoriam : Julian Thomas, ‘The Vagabond'” The Bulletin, Vol. 17 No. 865,12 September ,1896 periodical issue pg. 9 (poem)