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Allan, Edwin Frank (1868–1922)

Intimation of the death of Mr Edwin Frank Allan, for many years a member of the editorial staff of the Argus, will be received with great regret by his many friends. Mr Allan, who suffered a long and painful illness with great fortitude and patience, died yesterday at his residence, Pingunyah, Avondale road, Armadale, at the age of 54 years. He was born in London, being the youngest son of Mr James Allan, of Dunsford Manor, Sussex, a tea merchant, with extensive business connection with the Far East. It was in all probability these early associations which induced, in the first place, that intense interest in and intimate knowledge of Far Eastern questions which distinguished the subject of this memoir. His mind and temperament, however, were essentially those of the scholar. In his boyhood at Westminster he became one of the first on the highest form achieving thereby the immemorial right to visit at will the House of Commons and listen to the debates. From Westminster he went up to Oxford, where he had a briliant career. Afterwards he travelled extensively in Europe, and upon his return to England entered the diplomatic service, and was appointed to the British embassy at Pekin. After some years there his health broke down and he went to New Zealand. The climate restored him to some extent, although he was never robust. His knowledge of international affairs and his clarity in expression brought him into contact with the late Mr Gresley Lukin editor of the Wellington Post who invited Mr Allan to join the editorial staff of that paper. He was very successful as a writer, and his contributions attracted notice beyond New Zealand. In 1904 he accepted the offer of a position on the editorial staff of the Argus which he retained until about three years ago, when persistent ill health compelled him to retire. He was a valued contributor also to the columns of the Australasian, particularly to its literary section and for a lengthened time he wrote weekly the principal book review of the issue.

Mr Allan was always a welcome addition in company where questions of higher politics and literature or science were discussed. In Victoria his earlier career was concurrent with the dominance of Mr Deakin in politics, and with the growth and subsequent triumph of the Labour party. He had a genius for viewing politics in their broad currents, and while tenacious of his own opinions he never lost his capacity for dispassionate treatment of the events which unfolded themselves before him. His cast of mind and his culture left him clear of the entanglements of current political empiricism but he had nevertheless a healthy optimism on political affairs, and was not depressed by any turn in the party fortunes which ran counter to his views. He had admiration for the active political qualities which made for the success of men like the late Sir Thomas Bent but his pen nevertheless found congenial employment in checking the exuberance of that master spirit of his day.

During the war Mr Allan was selected to write a weekly summary of the movements on all fronts. The great mass of news which came through each day overwhelmed many readers and as time went on many were content to skim the various cable messages and to study the analysis presented each week by Mr Allan. The care which he give to the preparation of this column very quickly won general confidence. With the close of the war Mr Allan’s physical vigour began to fail, although it was not until a few weeks ago that he was precluded from familial intercourse with his friends which was so valued by him and by them. It will be from this comparatively limited number, and from his own home circle that Mr Allan will be most sadly missed. Few in Melbourne knew his great gifts as a mathematician and fewer still were capable of appreciating them. He was at home in any discussion on world problems, and the knowledge which he imbibed early on these subjects was the sure foundation upon which he built. Each development of today was illuminated for him by his knowledge of history and the breadth of his reading enabled him to illuminate these subjects for others. While in New Zealand Mr Allan married Miss Stella Henderson. He leaves a family of four daughters. Mrs Allan is known to a great number of our readers as “Vesta".

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Citation details

'Allan, Edwin Frank (1868–1922)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/allan-edwin-frank-19569/text30914, accessed 24 November 2017.

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