Alfred George Stephens (1865 - 1933)
This is the country Where feelings stay unspoken. In the home paddock of the head, Harvesting is private. Between the ripening Thoughts and the reality of speech, there is always this silence this space between warzones bordering us as the verandah boards the deep space between the heart of the house and the world. ‘Verandah Poems: Under a Roof of Rippled Tin,’ Jean Kent
Stephens was an author, journalist, editor, critic and publisher who had a profound influence over a generation of Australian writers from the 1890s. Stephens was born in Toowoomba and educated at the Toowoomba Grammar School before taking up an apprenticeship in printing in Sydney in 1880.
He worked on a number of newspapers in the 1880s and early 1890s including the Gympie Miner, the radical Brisbane Boomerang, and the Cairns Argus.
In the early 1890s he travelled extensively in Europe, Canada and America. His account of his travels, A Queenslander's Travel Notes were serialised in the Darling Downs Gazette from 1893 before publication in book form the following year.
In 1894 he joined the staff of the Sydney Bulletin and from 1896 he became the editor of its famous literary 'red page'. Here he published, critiqued, edited and advised writers such as Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, Barbara Baynton, John Shaw Neilson, Joseph Furphy, Miles Franklin, Steele Rudd and Mary Gilmore. He left the Bulletin in 1906 after falling out with manager over the establishment of a new quality magazine, The Lone Hand. Stephens then started his own bookshop and magazine, The Bookfellow, which lasted fitfully into the 1920s.
Stephens is commemorated by a plaque in the Ladies Literary Society Display in the Toowoomba City Library.
Vance Palmer, A.G. Stephens: His Life and Work, Melbourne: Robertson and Mullens, 1941.
Norman Lindsay, 'A.G. Stephens,' in Bohemians at the Bulletin, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1965.
Leon Cantrell, ed. A. G. Stephens: Selected Writings, 1978.
Christopher Lee, ed. Turning the Century: Writing of the 1890s, St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999.
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