EDMOND, James (1859-1933)


EDMOND, James (1859-1933)
journalist
was born at Glasgow on 21 April 1859. As a child he had only a primary education, but in later years he did much reading at the Glasgow public library. He went to work when he was 12 years old, and at 16 was a clerk in a fire insurance office. In 1878 he emigrated to New Zealand and followed various occupations with little success. In 1882 he went to Victoria and then to Queensland. At Rockhampton in 1885 he obtained a position as proof-reader on the Morning Bulletin, and began to send contributions to the Sydney Bulletin. In 1886 Archibald (q.v.) invited him to join the staff and in 1890 he became associate-editor. He took charge of the Wild-Cat column in 1893, and, though he then had little knowledge of finance, quickly realized that in order to write about it intelligently, the necessary data must be available. He collected balance sheets, and years afterwards began that comparison of the current year's figures with those of earlier years, which has since been so generally adopted in financial columns in Australia. He was also one of the first men to realize how dangerous over-borrowing abroad could be, and for a long period consistently fought against it in the columns of the Bulletin. But he was far more than a writer on finance, he wrote humorous stories and sketches, leaders, dramatic criticism, paragraphs on all kinds of subjects and for some time a special column "The Brickbat slung by Titus Salt". In 1903 he became editor but still found time to do much writing.
Edmond was in many ways a good editor, but he had no conception of how an editor's work might be delegated. This was bad for the training of the staff and, as was inevitable in the circumstances, Edmond's health broke down while he was still in his middle fifties. He was compelled to retire in 1915 After four years' holiday he began to be a regular contributor again, but failing sight practically prevented him from working during the last seven years of his life. After a courageous struggle with ill-health Edmond died at Sydney on 21 March 1933. His wife, a son, and three daughters survived him. Of the enormous mass of his writings very little has been collected. A Policy for the Commonwealth, a reprint of a series of articles in the Bulletin, appeared in 1900, and in 1913 A Journalist and Two Bears, consisting mostly of humorous sketches from the Bulletin and the Lone Hand, was published. He had a great reputation as a humorist in his day which is now somewhat difficult to justify. He was associate-editor and editor of the Bulletin during the period when it was a power in the land, and did much in shaping its policy. He fought well for federation when it had little support in New South Wales, and his financial policy was generally sound. His strenuous writing against oversea borrowing had apparently little effect at the time, but the strong tendency in later years for governments to raise loans in Australia instead of overseas may have been largely a result of his work.
The Bulletin, 29 January 1930, 29 March 1933; The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 1933; Zora Cross, An Introduction to the Study of Australian Literature, p. 20; Dorothy J. Hopkins, Hop of the "Bulletin".

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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