Oliver Bainbridge – Lord Nelson’s Great Grandson?
The Incredible Story of Francis (Frank) Nelson (aka ‘Oliver Bainbridge’): an Unacknowledged Casualty of the Death of Empire
Frank Nelson, born 1877 at Smith’s Flat (Upper Copmanhurst), via Grafton, New South Wales, was the son of the pioneering bush schoolmaster, Andrew St Clare Nelson (who’d been a naval cadet at one stage on the same ship as the future English King, and claimed descent from Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton).
Tiring of life in the slow lane, and perhaps with a sense of ‘Nelson’ entitlement, young Frank stole money from the South Grafton Post Office where he’d been employed. He spent a year in Grafton Gaol as a result of this, after which he was thrown out of home for ‘disgracing the Nelson name’, when he called himself ‘Oliver Bainbridge’.
Under his new identity this unknown colonial proceeded to make a name for himself as explorer, writer, orator, ‘anthropologist’, and spy for Empire in London and America, and mixed in the exalted circles of the royalty of old Europe, and had an audience with the English King (Bertie, or Edward VII, who his father had been shipmates with), and with the American President, Woodrow Wilson.
My great aunty Nina Shore (nee Neale) had told me these tall tales as a child. I seriously started to research this material way back in 1968. Having ‘lived by the word’ Frank was reputed to have been ‘taken out’ by the IRA, aged only forty five, in Sydney, in 1922, at the beginning of the Irish Civil War, and was buried in a pauper’s grave in Rookwood Cemetery.
Earlier version of this developing work (with research assistance from my half-Nelson cousin, Sister Mary Joseph (Patricia Wightley)), were published in Australian Folklore (University of New England).
After forty five years of accumulating information (the same number of years Frank lived on earth), we have now published (Woodbine Press, 2013) this work in book form (pp. 124 + 10 (prelims) + 10 (unnumbered) pages of additional photographs), which may be purchased through Woodbine Press ($A25.00 plus postage,please contact by email, postage rates for Australia, $3.00, New Zealand, $10.00, UK and USA, $25.00).
New Collected Poems 1952 – 2012
My New Collected Poems 1952 – 2012, representing 60 years of application to the craft of verse, has now been posted as a ‘PDF’ (this paragraph) of this Website (along with my New Selected Poems (Woodbine Press, 2010) ‘New Collected Poems’ in PDF . Please feel free to view or download this file and share and circulate it, but please do not sell it.
This work (pp. 684 + 50 (prelims) = 734), with significant new poems since the publication of Anthology (2002) and an Introduction and Epilogue by Professor John Ryan, University of New England, is dedicated to Gwen Kelly. Sadly Gwen did not live to see the finished book. It was cleared from Port Botany on 23 August 2012, the day of her funeral service in Armidale.
Printed copies may be purchased through Woodbine Press ($22.00 plus postage, please contact by email) or Kardoorair Press. Sadly because of the weight of this book (coming in at just over 1kgm) the postage rates are high, and for this reason it has been posted for free viewing/downloading.
Cedar House is another river story, an Australian Wuthering Heights about environment and aboriginal dispossession (see notes at the back of book showing extensive research), that came out before The Secret River. Cedar House was reviewed very favourably by Susan Mason and J.S. Ryan in Australian Folklore, No 17 (2002), under the title, ‘If You Were a Carpenter and I Were a Lady’.
This book was in press at the time of the September 11 (2001) attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. In a white heat I added a segment (adapted from an abandoned manuscript called ‘Bombs Away’) following on from the millennium madness sequences (pp. 214 – 216), making it one of the first novels in the world to mention this shattering event.
Please feel free to view or download this file and share and circulate it, but please do not sell it. Printed copies may be purchased through Woodbine Press (please contact by email).
I have now published a second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid (2012) with additional material obtained since the discovery of my brother Jim. Please feel free to view or download this file and share and circulate it, but please do not sell it.
Printed copies may be purchased through Woodbine Press (please contact by email).
Images of some of my Mullumbimby paintings are also displayed here. Inquires for possible purchase of any of my paintings should be directed to Artarmon Galleries, Sydney.