WILLOUGHBY, Howard (1839-1908)


WILLOUGHBY, Howard (1839-1908)
journalist
was born at Birmingham, England, on 19 June 1839. He wag educated at primary schools at Birming ham and London and came to Melbourne in 1857. He continued his education there, and in 1861 joined the staff of the Age newspaper as a junior reporter. About a year later he transferred to the Argus and was soon given important work. He became the first Australian war correspondent, accompanied the troops under General Cameron in the campaign against the Maoris, and wrote brilliant descriptions of the fighting. Returning to Melbourne he was sent to Western Australia to report on the convict system. A series of letters from Willoughby appeared in the Argus and were published in a pamphlet of 64 pages in 1865, Transportation. The British Convict in Western Australia. His conclusions were that the sending of further convicts would be bad for Australia and should be resisted, and that from the British point of view it was comparatively useless and wastefully expensive. His pamphlet probably influenced the decision a few years later that no more convicts would be transported. From 1866 to 1869, Willoughby was a member of the first Victorian Hansard staff, and in the latter year was appointed editor of the Melbourne Daily Telegraph. He conducted this paper with ability until 1877, when he joined the Argus staff again as chief of the news department and leader writer. He fought valiantly for the constitutional party in opposition to Berry (q.v.), and his column every week, "Above the Speaker" by "Timotheous", was a remarkable piece of journalism which never failed to be interesting. He was made chief political leader writer in 1882 and conducted a strong campaign in favour of federation. A selection of his writings in the Argus on this subject was published with additions in 1891 under the title Australian Federation its Aims and its Possibilities. Willoughby had given much study to the subject and was frequently consulted when the drafting of federal bills was in progress. In 1898 he was appointed editor of the Argus but an illness in January 1903 compelled his resignation. He continued, however, to make occasional contributions to the paper until shortly before his death on 19 March 1908. He married in 1870, Emily Frances, daughter of Henry Jones, who survived him with one son and two daughters. In addition to the works already mentioned he was the author of The Critic in Church, published anonymously in 1872, and Australian Pictures, published in 1886.
Willoughby was among the greatest of Australian journalists. A tremendous worker who had little time for hobbies or pastimes, he wrote with good humour and without venom; and even during the bitter period at the end of the eighteen seventies he was admired as a writer and as a man by both his followers and his opponents.
The Argus, Melbourne, 20 March 1908; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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