- Australian Facts and Prospects To Which is Prefixed the Author's Australian Autobiography
Smith, Elder and Co, London, 1859.
Octavo; hardcover, blind-stamped decorations to both boards, gilt spine titling and a gilt upper board decoration; 258pp. Scattered foxing to the preliminaries; boards rubbed and sunned at the spine and edges; upper hinge has small split in the cloth to the top end; retailer's bookplate to the rear pastedown. Otherwise good copy of a rather scarce book. Richard Henry Horne, poet, was born on the 31st of December in 1802 at Edmonton, near London, the eldest of three sons of James Horne, quarter-master in the 61st Regiment; his grandfather was Richard Horne, secretary to Earl St. Vincent. Richard was brought up at the home of his rich paternal grandmother and attended John Clarke's School where John Keats was also a pupil. In April, 1819, Horne entered Sandhurst Military College but left in December, 1820. In 1823 after reading Shelley's "Queen Mab", he decided to become a poet. In 1825 Horne sailed as midshipman in the "Libertad" to fight for Mexican independence. After two years in America he returned to London, where, in 1833, he published his first book, "Exposition of the False Medium and Barriers Excluding Men of Genius from the Public". In the next decade he published three poetic dramas, contributed prolifically to literary magazines, edited the "Monthly Repository" in 1836-37 and served on the royal commission on child employment in factories in 1841. His most famous year was 1843 when he published his epic "Orion" at a farthing a copy to show his contempt for public taste. It ran to six editions in a year and made him a celebrity. Tempted by dreams of fortune on the Australian goldfields and the chance to escape an unhappy marriage, Horne arrived at Melbourne in September. He soon became commander of the private gold escort and in 1853 assistant gold commissioner at Heathcote and Waranga. He was erratic in both posts and was dismissed in November 1854. By 1855 his English ties were severed, his wife having requested a formal separation. In Melbourne, he contested several seats in the electorate and held several government posts, before being eventually voted out of work. In June of 1863, Horne was made warden of the Victorian Blue Mountain goldfield near Trentham: 'my Siberia', as he termed it. Again he began to write seriously and found tranquillity in the process. On visits to Melbourne he held court at Henry Dwight's bookshop, and became friendly with George Gordon McCrae and Marcus Clarke. In 1864 he published a lyrical drama, "Prometheus the Fire-Bringer", and in 1866 for the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition a masque, "The South Sea Sisters"; it contained a rhythmic representation of an Aboriginal corroboree which brought acclaim. In 1867 he celebrated the arrival of the Duke of Edinburgh with a cantata, "Galatea Secunda", signing himself Richard Hengist Horne, the name by which he was henceforth known. In Australia he produced no significant poetry but some good prose: "Australian Facts and Prospects" (London, 1859), and an essay, "An Election Contest in Australia" in Cornhill Magazine (1862). Disillusioned, he sailed in June, 1869, for England, where he became a literary doyen, producing many new works, all critical failures. His poverty was relieved in 1874 by a government pension and he died at Margate on 13 March 1884.
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