Boothby, Guy Newell (DNB12)

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BOOTHBY, GUY NEWELL (1867–1905), novelist, born at Glenosmond, Adelaide, South Australia, on 13 Oct. 1867, was eldest of three sons of Thomas Wilde Boothby, member of the South Australian house of assembly, by his wife Mary Agnes, daughter of Edward Hodding of Odstock, Salisbury, Wiltshire. His grandfather, Benjamin Boothby (1803–1868), a native of Doncaster, emigrated with his family to South Australia in 1853 on being appointed second judge of the supreme court of South Australia, and was removed from office in 1867 by the South Australian parliament owing to his objections to the Real Property (Torrens) Act. His uncle, Josiah Boothby, C.M.G., born at Nottingham, was permanent under secretary for the government of South Australia from 1868 to 1880.

About 1874 Boothby was sent to England, and received his education at Salisbury. In 1883 he returned to South Australia, and in 1890 became private secretary to the mayor of Adelaide. During this period he devoted himself to writing plays without success. In October 1888 he produced a melodrama at the Albert Hall, Adelaide, entitled 'Falsely Accused,' and in August 1891 at the Theatre Royal 'The Jonquille,' a piece founded upon incidents connected with the French revolution. Of a roving disposition, he made in 1891-2 a journey across Australia from north to south; and in 1894 published 'On the Wallaby,' in which he described in a lively style his travelling experiences. In the same year he settled in England, first at Champion Hill and afterwards near Bournemouth, where he devoted himself to novel-writing and occupied his leisure in collecting live fish and breeding horses, cattle, and prize dogs. He died unexpectedly of influenza at his house in Boscombe on 26 Feb. 1905, and was buried in Bournemouth cemetery.

The many stories which Boothby wrote at an exceptionally rapid rate during his last ten years were crowded with sensation, showed an eye for a dramatic situation, and enjoyed a wide vogue, but he had small faculty for characterisation or literary style. He produced in all fifty-five volumes. He was at his best in his earlier studies of Australian life in 'A Lost Endeavour' (1895), 'Bushigrams' (1897), and 'Billy Binks, Hero, and other Stories' (1898). His best known novel, 'A Bid for Fortune, or Dr. Nikola's Vendetta' (1895; 2nd edit. 1900), first appeared as a serial in the 'Windsor Magazine,' Its success led Boothby to prolong his hero's mysterious adventures through many subsequent volumes, including 'Dr. Nikola' (1896), 'Dr. Nikola's Experiment' (1899), and 'Farewell Nikola' (1901).

On 8 Oct. 1895 Boothby married Rose Alice, third daughter of William Bristowe of Champion Hill. She survived him with two daughters and one son.

[The Times, 28 Feb. 1905; Athenæum, 4 March 1905; Adelaide Chronicle, 4 March 1905; Adelaide Advertiser, 28 March 1905; Bournemouth Guardian, 4 March 1905; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

G. S. W.