A Classic Year: 1.1 Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood


"Rolf Boldrewood" was the pseudonym of Thomas Alexander Browne (1826-1915), who was born on 6 August 1826 in London, the eldest child of Sylvester John Brown, a shipmaster who had served with the East India Co., and his wife Elizabeth Angell, née Alexander - he added the "e" to his surname in the 1860s. Browne arrived in Australia at the age of five, after sailing to Sydney with his father who, as captain of the barque Proteus, had delivered a cargo of convicts to Tasmania. Browne was educated in Sydney until 1841 when he moved to Melbourne to join his father who had firstly taken up a run at Mount Macedon, and then started the first ferry runs between Melbourne and Williamstown across Port Philip Bay. After finishing his education in Melbourne, Browne earnt his living as a pastoralist, firstly near Portland, and then Swan Hill in Victoria, and subsequently near Narrandera in New South Wales. A succession of severe droughts finished his career as a squatter in 1869, and he went to live in Sydney. Appointments as a police magistrate in 1871 and as a gold commissioner in 1872 in New South Wales followed, and he continued in this line until he retired to
Melbourne in 1895. He died on 11 March 1915 and was buried in Brighton cemetery.

As a writer he was quite prolific, starting with My Run Home in 1874, he subsequently wrote a total of 16 novels, finishing with The Last Chance: A Tale of the Golden West in 1905. In addition he wrote a volume of autobiography (Old Melbourne Memories 1884), the non-fiction works Shearing in the Riverina in 1870 and An Australian Grazier's Guide in 1879, and a collection titled In Bad Company and Other Stories in 1901.

Browne's pseudonym, "Rolf Boldrewood" is derived from a line in the narrative poem Marmion by Sir Walter Scott whom Browne admired.

Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 4, 2008 11:52 AM.

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