Revel Johnson, Thomas

Thomas Revel Johnson (1817-1863) was a surgeon and journalist who published the The Satirist and Sporting Chronicle (1843), Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (1845) and the Sunday Times (1849).

Born in Ireland, he graduated as a surgeon from the University of Dublin and arrived in Australia in 1841. Two years later, he married Harriet Willmot. At the time of his death, he had eight surviving children.

Like Argles’ (Argyles; Harold Grey), Revel Johnson’s satire attracted libel claims in litigious colonial Australia, resulting in a two-year jail sentence.   Undeterred, he launched the weekly Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer in 1845, with George Pickering joining in 1847.

The first Bell’s Life,  published on January 4, 1845, mixed gossipy sporting and racing news with features on fox hunting and boxing. Revel Johnson published Bell’s Life  for three years then sold the publication after being sued for libel once more in 1848.

The following year, he launched the Sunday Times, which is described by the National Library of Australian Newspaper Plan 1802-1900 as the first designated Sunday newspaper in Australia. Typical of many colonial publications, it only ran for a few issues before closure. Bell’s Life announced his death in 1863, paying homage to Revel Johnson’s founding of the paper and “thundering satire”.

 Representative Articles:


Christie Murray, David

david christie murrayDavid Christie Murray (1847 – 1907) was an English journalist and novelist.  The son of a printer, Christie-Murray first wrote for Fleet Street papers the Daily News, the World, and for the London Times, reporting on the Russo-Turkish conflict as a ‘special correspondent’.

By 1889 he was a well known novelist. While on his lecture tour of Australia that year, he wrote a series of reports for the Age on Australian topics, such as attending the Melbourne Cup, and travelling the Blue Mountains.

Murray disappeared after his lecture tour, only to re-emerge five months later, telling friends he’d been staying with Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa. He spent the remainder of his life in England and travelling the lecture circuit of the USA.

Representative articles






Paterson A B (Banjo)

banjo-paterson-at-campsite-1Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson  (1864-1941)best known as a bush poet, was also a journalist and war correspondent.  He began writing journalism in the 1890s, contributing prose pieces about his travels through the Northern Territory and other places to the Sydney Mail, the Pastoralists’ Review, the Australian Town and Country Journal, the Lone Hand and the Bulletin.

In 1899, he sailed to South Africa to cover the Boer War for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age as their war correspondent. While there, he was attached to General French’s column from where he reported on the capture of Pretoria, the relief of Kimberley and the surrender of Bloemfontein. Because of the quality of his reporting, he was appointed a correspondent on the war for Reuters.

Paterson returned to Sydney in 1900 and sailed to China the following year as a roving correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald. From 1903 till 1908, he was editor of the Sydney Evening News. When World War 1 broke out, he sailed to England hoping to cover the fighting from Flanders, but this was not to be. He returned to Australia in 1915 and was commissioned in the 2nd Remount Unit, Australian Imperial Force and served in the Middle East.

After the war ended, Paterson continued his journalism, contributing articles to both the Sydney Mail and Smith’s Weekly before becoming editor of the Sydney Sportsman in 1922.  In 1934, his memoir of famous people he had met on his travels over the previous four decades was published as Happy Dispatches. In1939, the year he was appointed C.B.E, he wrote reminiscences for the Sydney Morning Herald. Two years later, he died after a short illness and was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Collected Prose by A B “Banjo” Paterson, Project Gutenberg. e-book.
  • Off Down the Track: Racing and Other Yarns, Campbell, R and Harvie, P (ed’s), Angus & Robertson, North Ryde, 1986.
  • From the Front: A. B. (Banjo) Paterson’s Dispatches from the Boer War, Droogleever, R.W.F (ed), Pan Macmillan: Sydney, 2002.

A number of Paterson’s non-fiction stories, particularly concerning his favourite sport, horse racing, can be found in Haynes, J (ed), The Best Australian Yarns and Other True Stories, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2013.

Representative examples:

Town and Country:

Boer War Reporting: