Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I: the Life and Death of Oliver Bainbridge (an Unacknowledged Casualty of the Death of Empire).
This book is now available here ‘Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I’ in PDF
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 with Prince Alfred, later Duke of Edinburgh, and claimed descent from Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton). A video of my talk to The State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW), about this biography is at this link.
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 as a lowly clerk. After spending a year in Grafton Penitentiary he’d been thrown out of home for ‘disgracing the name of Horatio Nelson’, and lived for a time with the local Aborigines, and visited New Guinea early in the 1890s, and reinvented himself as ‘Oliver Bainbridge’, explorer and anthropologist. His reported discovery of Black Jews in the Gulf of Papua (in 1905) caused quite a stir. He went on to describe Chinese Jews (as published in National Geographic Magazine), and visited and described both ‘Black and White Jews’ in Cochin, in what was then British India.
Under his new identity this unknown colonial proceeded to make a name for himself as poet, writer, lightning-sketch artist, orator, explorer, self-styled ‘anthropologist’, and spy for Empire in London and America, and mixed in the exalted circles of the royalty of old Europe, escorted the Queen of Bulgaria to the United States (1914), had at least three audiences with the English King (Bertie, or Edward VII), and with two American Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt (in 1903*), and with Woodrow Wilson (1914). Bainbridge had been very active in Balkan politics in the lead-up to World War I. During World War I he was actively associated with the Propaganda Bureau in London, producing anti-German pamphlets and was stridently anti-IRA. 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.
My great aunty Nina Shore (nee Neale) had told me these tall tales as a child. I had seriously started to research this material way back in 1968. In 1995 I met up with my ‘half-Nelson’ researching cousin, Sister Mary Joseph (Patricia Wightley)), and we published two joint papers (on Andrew St Clare Nelson and Oliver Bainbridge) in Australian Folklore (University of New England).
This (2017) publication (with Research Assistance from Patricia Whitley, consisting of 402 pages (including Preliminaries, Timeline, some Press Clippings, over one thousand five hundred Endnotes, Index of Names, and a number of Bainbridge photographs from the American family), is a substantial upgrade from our 2013 Monograph ‘Lord Nelson’s Great Grandson?’.
* The Washington Times, 29 November 1903, p. 12, re visit the previous day. In 1903 Bainbridge was leading a rather ‘irregular’ life as a self-styled ‘King of Tramps’, and paying his way across America by giving public lectures in the various town he visited (with an apparent interest in German secret societies). Without some context (like him being some sort of British (or American) agent and the purported Nelson connection) it is very hard to imagine the President of the United States of America as having an audience with some itinerant tramp who just happened to be in town on the day.
Profile with Nelson Life Mask
Edwin Wilson, Family Tree: Old Friends, Rich Relations
A wide ranging (2020) genealogy of pioneers in the Australian frontier. Free to download here ‘Family History’ in PDF. Please feel free to view or download this file and share and circulate it, but please do not sell it.
Stardust Painter-Poet II (Edwin Wilson: Paintings and Poems)
This catalogue is now available for free downloading here ‘Stardust Painter-Poet II’ in PDF. Please feel free to view or download this file and share and circulate it, but please do not sell it.
An exhibition was held, opened and reviewed (in Sydney Morning Herald) by art critic John McDonald, at the Lavender Bay Gallery (Royal Art Society of New South Wales), from Friday 8 April to Sunday 1 May 2016, which doubled as a launch for this book. Stardust Painter-Poet is a quality production, and a ‘sister’ book in style to New Collected Poems, consisting of a compilation of artworks over my lifetime (with my thematic poems or poem fragments inserted at appropriate places), divided into three main sections: Early Works, Mesozoic Era (Middle Period), and Late Flowering. All of the paintings in the ‘late flowering’ period have been produced since my retirement from paid work in 2003.
Mullumbimby Dreaming (Mullumbimby Paintings and Poems)
Mullumbimy Dreaming (Mullumbimby Paintings and Poems) has been produced (2014) as a Catalogue for an exhibition at Tweed River Gallery (Murwillumbah), opening 8 August 2014. This book may be downloaded (in lower resolution format) here ‘Mullumbimby Dreaming’ in PDF. Please feel free to view or download this file and share and circulate it, but please do not sell it.
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) on 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.
Cedar House (Woodbine Press, 2001) 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.
The Mullumbimby Kid
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.
The Australian Museum Sydney: The First 150 Years
In 1977, when I worked at the Australian Museum, I coordinated the production of a rapid-fire ‘3 minute movie’ from old photographs, drawings, and animations, as part of a display to help celebrate the Museum’s Sesquicentennial, with input from the Museum Discoverers.
1977 Production: Edwin Wilson
Technical: Tony Healey
Animation drawings: Edwin Wilson, with assistance by Nicky Myers
Research assistance: John Holm, Jennifer Judges, Estelle Lazer
Camera: Carol Lazer
Music: John Freeland (flute)
This movie, shot on super-8, was recently converted into digital format, it has been uploaded onto You Tube with this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAzNnqg-DFc
and can also be viewed here:
Images of some of my Mullumbimby paintings are also displayed here.
Inquires for possible purchase of any of my paintings should be directed to http://www.artarmongalleries.com.au/ (Artarmon Galleries Sydney).