Adam Lindsay Gordon: The founder of Australian literature organisations

Adam Lindsay Gordon: The founder of Australian literature organisations

According to Charles Long, William Furlong (a noted singer, composer and teacher of music) and his wife issued invitations to their numerous literary friends for an evening in commemoration of Adam Lindsay Gordon. The commemoration was held in their rooms-which included a large hall-in the Royal Arcade, Bourke Street, June 24th 1898, the anniversary of the poet’s death. The evening proved so enjoyable the generous host and hostess repeated the invitation the following year.

At that gathering several speakers mentioned the fact that the formation of a society for the encouragement of Australian authors had been talked about for a long time, and Mr. C.R. Long moved, Mr. W.H. Colechin seconded, and Dr. T.P. McInerney, Dr. Daish, and Messrs. E Wilson Dobbs, J.Deegan, F.D. Rossiter, and C.Reeves supported a resolution to the effect that a society should be formed for the systematic study of Australian literature, and for the employment of means to increase the output. It was carried with enthusiasm, and the mover volunteered to issue a circular to persons likely to become members, and to make arrangements for holding a meeting on July 26 at the place where they were at the time (Furlong’s Music Studio). There was a good response to the invitation (thirty people were present) and it was decided to call the society the Australian Literature Society, and to fix the subscription at 5/- a year (the expenses being small owing to the generosity of Mr. Furlong in allowing the use of his rooms without payment). Mr. W.H Elsum read a paper on the objects of such a society, and Mr. James Maloney M.L.A., was elected president. At the next meeting the president read a paper on “Have we an Australian Literature?” He contended that we have not, and could not have one. Finding himself out of sympathy with most of the other members of the society, he soon ceased to attend the meetings and was succeeded by Mr. T.A. Browne (“Rolf Boldrewood”).

Acknowledgements: Minute Book of the Australian Literature Society by Susan Radvansky and Patricia Alsop. Foreword by John Hay, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Academic) Monash University).

Photo Royal Arcade Melbourne from The State Library of Victoria Accession no: IAN30/12/74/216

Grave of Adam Lindsay Gordon – Brighton Cemetery (Victoria)

Grave of Adam Lindsay Gordon – Brighton Cemetery (Victoria)

Appropriately enough, one of the concluding fixtures of Authors’ Week was observed yesterday afternoon in the pilgrimage to the grave of Adam Lindsay Gordon in Brighton Cemetery. “Critics may come and critics may go, but the works of Gordon will live in the minds of the populace as long as Australia is Australia. He was assuredly one of the small band of Australian writers who “glanced from Heaven to Earth and from Earth to Heaven”. In his own page his memory lives enshrined”. Author’s Week The Age Mon 19 September 1927 Page 12

The Spring Street Statue

MONTFORD, PAUL  RAPHAEL (1868-1938 was born in London in 1868 and learned modelling from his father, Horace Montford. He studied at the Royal Academy schools and became internationally known.  He married a fellow artist, Marian Aglio Diblin, on 11 September 1912.  They emigrated to Australia with their family in 1923 in answer to an advertisement by the Australian Government  for sculptors to enter submissions for an ANZAC memorial to honour soldiers killed in Egypt, Palestine and Syria that was to be erected at Port Said.

Paul Montford arrived in early 1923 with his model sculpture for the competition and was optimistic about his chances, but he did not win. He then decided to take up a teaching post at the Gordon Technical Institute in Geelong. In 1925 he decided to move to Melbourne, to 20 Bruce Street, Toorak where he rented a colonial villa in poor repair and set up his studio on the ground floor with living quarters above. Montford’s involvement with the Shrine began in November 1922 with the announcement of a competition for the National War Memorial of Victoria.

The project did not really go ahead until on Anzac Day 1927 when a rousing speech by General Monash reinvigorated enthusiasm for the scheme. In November 1928 a standing design for a statue of Adam Lindsay Gordon had been accepted by that memorial committee, but later changed to a figure in a seated position. Walter David Webb posed in the chair for the correct seating position and George O. Ross Fenner who knew Gordon stood beside Montford as he worked to get the correct facial features. In July 1931 the completed model, cast in plaster, was displayed in the Athenaeum Gallery Melbourne together with paintings by Mr. Murray Griffin. The cost €1650.

The model was sent away for casting and in July 1932 Montford announced that it was on its way back to Australia and the statue was unveiled on 30 October 1932 in the northern end of the reserve next to the Victorian Parliament House, Melbourne. Charles Gordon “A kind of cousin of Adam” stands at the southern end. The Royal Society of British Sculptors awarded Paul its gold medal for the best work of the year. Montford was president of the Victorian Artists Society 1930-2.

Montford died after a short illness of leukemia on 15 January 1938 in Richmond, Victoria; he was survived by his wife and two daughters and a son. His ashes were scattered in the woods at Leatherhead, Surrey, England.

Wikipedia; Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne; Sunday Times Perth  Sun 5 July 1931 p7; Dibdin/Guise Family History;; John & Jan Martyn; Augusta Stylianou Gallery;

The Life and Best Poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon. Douglas Sladen; The Age Tues 3 Nov 1931 p8.

The Creator of Gordon’s Abbey Bust

Lady Hilton-Young Interviewed by Coralie Clarke Rees
The West Australian Monday 28 May 1934, page 7
LONDON. April 26. – There are remarkably interesting associations about the woman sculptor who was chosen to do the bust of Adam Lindsay Gordon. “National Poet of Australia.” which will be unveiled in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, by the Duke of York on May 11.
Lady Hilton Young, as well as being one of the most prominent English sculptors of today, was the wife of the gallant but ill-fated captain Scott who explored so much of the Antarctic and died when returning from the South Pole in 1912. She is now married to the Right Honourable Sir Edward Hilton Young, G.B.E., D.S.O., M.P., Minister of Health in the present Cabinet, and her elder son, Peter Scott, is the god-child of Sir James Barrie, and a rising young artist.
I met this stimulating woman at her home facing Kensington Gardens a few days ago and was impressed by her crisp, direct manner. She was unwilling to dwell on personal details about herself, but where her sculpture was concerned was all alertness and enthusiasm. She led me straight through a spacious drawing room, down some steps and into one of the most charming English back gardens that I have seen – all trees, shrubs, lawn, and crazy-paving, with, in the centre, a small pond. At the corners of the garden some of Lady Hilton Young’s own sculpture stood upon pedestals.
The Best Described.
Her studio is a glass-walled building at the bottom of the garden, and it was there that I was privileged to look upon the not-quite-finished bust which, in a few weeks is to be set up in the Abbey for all time. I think Australians who, in future make a pilgrimage to Poets’ Corner to honour the memory of their sportsman-poet, will be grateful to Lady Hilton Young for the strong, characterful head she has modelled. It is larger than life size, and when set at a height of seven feet from the ground, will accentuate the noble contour of Gordon’s countenance, his boldness and integrity and at the same time his brooding eyes, betokening, as Henry Kendall has written, “A shining soul with syllables of fire.”
Lady Hilton Young formed her conception of Gordon largely from reading his poems. For his outward appearance she had astonishingly little to guide her – only one old daguerreotype and a photograph of the statue of Gordon by Montford which was unveiled in Melbourne in 1932. This, Lady Hilton Young wisely observed, so that a traditional record of Gordon’s appearance might be preserved.
She is an extraordinary quick worker and she told me that this bust of Gordon was modelled in about a month after she received the commission. Naturally, as it is her first memorial to be placed in the Abbey (it is the first to be placed in Poets’ Corner since Tennyson died), she is particularly interested in and careful about this piece of work – so interested and careful that she has had two bronze heads cast, and she is going to carve another in stone and choose which one looks best in the setting.
About me in her studio were many heads of famous men sculptured by her hand – political celebrities, like Asquith, Baldwin, Lloyd George, John Simon and James Maxton, writers like Shaw and Galsworthy, and explorers like Nansen and Scott. I had noticed in her drawing room a bust of Stanley Melbourne Bruce. Lady Hilton Young told me that it is a very recent work and she would like to see it set up somewhere in Australia.
A Prolific Worker
I suppose no woman sculptor has as many memorials to her credit in different parts of the world as this energetic sculptor. In England alone she has about a dozen outdoor statues, including war memorials, and there are others in India and New Zealand. Throughout a great deal of her work I could trace the influence of Rodin, the French master-sculptor, under whom she studied in Paris.
When I asked Lady Hilton Young if she spent long and regular hours at her work she replied; “No. I’m afraid I haven’t time for that.” She has a younger son, about nine years old, whom she takes walking and swimming, then she climbs mountains and goes skating and dancing with her elder son; and she travels extensively, having visited Greece, Turkey, Egypt, New Zealand, and South Africa. “I’ve been to Australia twice,” she said, “and loved it. I shall always treasure the memory of a walking tour I did through the Blue Mountains, camping out at nights.”
In fact, she is quite an open-air woman. She likes working outside in the garden when weather permits, and for this purpose she has a movable throne which can be wheeled about. She told me that she likes larger-than-life-size work best as it gives the sculptor more scope; and, not content with the ordinary physical strain of modelling and stone-carving, Lady Hilton Young cuts her own marble. Strangely enough she has never recorded her own sons in either bronze, stone or marble.
A Painter of Bird Life
It happened that her elder son, Peter Scott, was having his second Bond-street “one man show” of paintings of wild fowl opened on the afternoon after I visited Lady Hilton Young. She kindly invited me to be present. It was quite a distinguished little gathering because the opening speech was given by Colonel John Buchan, M.P., the prominent novelist, and among the guests were Sir James Barrie, and Mrs. Stanley Baldwin and Sir Edward Hilton Young representing parliamentary circles. Colonel Buchan said that Peter Scott was following in his father’s footsteps by being an explorer in an intensive way into the abundant natural bird life of England.
Mr. Scott’s paintings of all varieties of wild bird life studied and depicted among their native surroundings on the mud flats and fens of Norfolk, betray an intimate knowledge of an interest in natural history. I heard that it was among his heroic father’s last wishes that his son, then only a baby of one year, should study natural history.
Among Peter Scott’s paintings was a charming interior of the sitting room, with its old ingle-nook fireplace, of Sir James Barrie’s home in Adelphi, the dramatist himself being seated by the fire.
Peter Pan
Mr. Scott’s life has been closely linked with associations of his god-father. Barrie’s immortal “Peter Pan” was written in the room which is now Peter Scott’s studio, and Mr Scott was named after “the boy who couldn’t grow up.” Then Peter Scott loves wild ducks, and two from the Round Pond (the haunt of Peter Pan) have come and settled of their own accord on the pond in Peter Scott’s garden. A young man with such a talent and associations is marked out for fame from his birth.
Lady Hilton Young is very proud of her son’s work. When I asked her where he was studying she replied; “Nowhere. At home here.” But when I suggested that, in that case, possibly she was guiding his study she said; “Indeed no. He teaches me. He is a great artist.”

See also Sir Peter Scott Founding father of the World Wild Life Fund who also created their Panda mascot.