ASTLEY, William (1854-1911)


ASTLEY, William (1854-1911)
"Price Warung"
short story writer
second son of Captain Thomas Astley and his wife Mary Price, was born at Liverpool, England, in 1854, and was brought to Australia when he was four years old. The family settled at Richmond, a suburb of Melbourne, and William was educated at St Stephen's church school and the Melbourne model school. He obtained employment in booksellers' shops, but taking up journalism was editor of the Richmond Guardian for a short period when only 2 1 years of age. He was subsequently connected with the Echuca Riverine Herald and other Victorian journals, the Launceston Daily Telegraph, the Workman, Sydney the Worker, the Tumut Independent and the Bathurst Free Press. While at Bathurst he was secretary of the Bathurst Federal League, which did useful work for federation. During the eighteen-eighties and nineties Astley did some excellent free-lance work for the Sydney Bulletin in which many of his stories of the convict days were published. The first collection of these, Tales of the Convict System, appeared in 1892, and this volume was followed by Tales of the Early Days (1894), Tales of the Old Regime (1897), Tales of the Isle of Death (1898), and Half-Crown Bob and Tales of the Riverine (1898). Astley had had a nervous breakdown in 1878, and in his last years there were recurrences of mental trouble. He died at Sydney on 5 October 1911. He married in 1884 Louisa Frances Cope of Launceston.
Astley was a brilliant journalist and short story writer. He had made a study of early Australian history and worked over his stories with great care. There is a certain starkness about his work, but his tales are full of human nature and human pity. He must be ranked among the best writers of Australian short stories.
Copy of his certificate of his marriage in September 1884, in which it is stated that he was then 30 years of age; The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 7 October 1911; The Bulletin, 12 October 1911; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; information collected by Frederick T. Macartney for a proposed selection from Astley's work.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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