Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Adams, Francis William Lauderdale

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1335813Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement, Volume 1 — Adams, Francis William Lauderdale1901Thomas Seccombe (1866-1923)

ADAMS, FRANCIS WILLIAM LAUDERDALE (1862–1893), author, born at Malta on 27 Sept. 1862, was grandson of Francis Adams [q. v.] and son of Andrew Leith Adams [q. v.], who married on 26 Oct. 1859 Bertha Jane, eldest daughter of Frederick Grundy of the Avenue, Hardwick. He was educated at a private school at Shrewsbury—the Glastonbury of his autobiographical writing—and from 1878 to 1880 at Paris. After two years' experience as assistant master at Ventnor College, he married and went to Australia. There, amid some hardships and vicissitudes, though he worked pretty regularly upon the staff of the 'Sydney Bulletin,' he produced in 1884 his strangely precocious autobiographical novel, 'Leicester.' Short stories, poems, and essays followed until, in 1888, he created a limited semi-scandalous sensation in Sydney by the issue of his 'Songs of the Army of the Night.' His verse is chaotic, but the Utopian fervour of the poems is striking, and the originality often intense. The book was thrice republished in London. He now wrote some able Australian sketches for the 'Fortnightly Review,' and some unconventional criticisms, which too often suggest the minor poet come to judgment, for the 'New Review.' After a couple of years in England, he spent the winter of 1892-3 in Alexandria, battling hard against incurable lung disease, in his endeavour to finish a work upon the iniquity of the British occupation of Egypt. During the summer he settled at Gordon Road, Margate, where, on 4 Sept. 1893, in a fit of depression following a heavy loss of blood, he mortally wounded himself with a pistol. He was twice married, but left no issue. Personally he was a man of charming manner and no small literary faculty. His passionate sympathy with the outcast and oppressed drove him into excess both in thought and expression. His achievement, like that of Marie Bashkirtseff, derives much of its interest from his sadly premature end; but what he might have achieved by the exercise of due artistic restraint is at least indicated by his fine drama 'Tiberius,' embodying a powerful original conception of the tyrant as the deliberate though reluctant exterminator of the anti-social gang of greedy and lustful Roman aristocrats.

Adams published: 1. 'Henry and other Tales: a Volume of Poems,' London, 1884. 2. 'Leicester; an Autobiography,' London, 1885. 3. 'Australian Essays,' Melbourne and London, 1886. 4. 'Madeline Brown's Murder,' Sydney, 1886. 5. 'Poetical Works,' Brisbane and London, 1886. 6. 'Songs of the Army of the Night,' Sydney, 1888; London, 1890, 1893, and 1894. 7. 'John Webb's End: a Story of Bush Life,' London, 1891. 8. 'The Melbournians: a Novel,' London, 1892. 9. 'Australian Life: Short Stories,' 1893. Posthumously were issued: 10. 'The New Egypt: a Social Sketch,' 1893; dedicated to J. W. Longsdon, who saw the unfinished work through the press after his friend's death. 11. 'Tiberius: a Drama,' with portrait and introduction by Mr. W. M. Rossetti, 1894; dedicated to his brother, who had died of consumption in Queensland on 13 Sept. 1892. 12. 'A Child of the Age,' 1894; a very elaborate rifacimento of 'Leicester.' 13. 'Essays in Modernity: Criticisms and Dialogues,' 1899.

[Introductions to Songs of the Army of the Night and Tiberius, both in the 1894 edition, with portraits; Times and Daily Chron. 5 and 6 Sept. 1893; Athenæum, 1893, ii. 359, 629; Saturday Review, 21 July 1894; Boase's Modern English Biogr. 1892, p. 15; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.