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Arthur Henry Adams (1872–1936)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Mr. Arthur Henry Adams, the author and poet, died in the Royal North Shore Hospital yesterday, aged 63 years. As a writer of verse, plays, and novels his name was familiar in all parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Adams was born at Otago, New Zealand, being a son of the late Mr. C. W. Adams, one of the pioneer surveyors in the South Island of New Zealand. On graduating in Arts, he began the study of law, but, disliking the subject, discontinued the course and transferred his interests to journalism. He was in China during the Boxer Rebellion, and later spent several years in London, engaged in literary work. He then came to Australia, and was for some time secretary to the late Mr. J. C. Williamson, who had been attracted by the talent he displayed in the libretto for the opera Tapu. He joined the Bulletin in 1900, being the editor of the Red Page for many years. He then returned to daily newspaper work. In recent years his health had been poor. In fact, he never fully recovered from a serious illness contracted in China.

Mr. Adams's first volume of work was published in 1899. This was Maoriland and Other Verses. Other works, including The Nazarene and London Streets, were published while he was in England. He wrote several plays, the most successful being Mrs. Pretty and the Premier, which had a successful run in London. Among his novels, the best known were, perhaps, Gallahad Jones, published in 1911, and Honeymoon Dialogues, the latter being written under the name of "James James."

Maoriland and Other Verses contains some of his best work, and earned for him an immediate and high place in Australian literature. It revealed an extremely selective and sensitive mind, qualities which were reflected in everything Mr. Adams wrote afterwards. During early manhood his output was tremendous, but the stress of production never diminished the sensitiveness of his nature.

Mr. Adams married, in 1908, Miss Lilian Paton, and built one of the first houses on Cremorne Point. He is survived by Mrs Adams, one son. and two daughters. One brother is Dr. E. Adams, the Government Astronomer of New Zealand, another is a retired Indian magistrate, and a third Mr. Cecil Adams, of Goulburn.

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Citation details

'Adams, Arthur Henry (1872–1936)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Arthur Adams, 1920

Arthur Adams, 1920

National Library of Australia, 22418250

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • James, James
  • James, Henry James

6 June, 1872
Lawrence, Otago, New Zealand


4 March, 1936 (aged 63)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

blood poisoning

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.