Biography Frank Wilmot

Frank Wilmot

photo of Frank Wilmot
  • Time Period1881 - 1942
  • Place

Poet Biography

Frank Wilmot was a well-known figure on the Australian literary scene in the 1920s and 1930s. He worked at the famous Cole's Book Arcade for thirty-five years, rising from errand-boy to manager, before becoming the successful Manager of Melbourne University Press, a post he held from 1932 until his death in 1942.

Wilmot was also one of the most original and innovative of modernist Australian poets. His poetry, published under the name 'Furnley Maurice', and his critical writings offer a strong and individual interpretation of national modernism in Australia between the wars. His were not the usual English models, but radical socialist and American writers of the early modernist movement such as Ezra Pound, William Morris and Carl Sandburg.

Wilmot chose to write as 'Furnley Maurice,' his biographer Fred Macartney wrote, from his liking of two places, Ferntree Gully and Beaumaris [both are suburbs of Melbourne, the former in the nearby hills, the latter is beachside] The purpose of using a psuedonym, he claimed, was to test the consistency of The Bulletin 's editor A.G.Stephens in his criticism of Wilmot's poetry.

The 'bookseller's assistant' worked at the incongruous Coles Book Arcade for many years. He was a tall, slim man with blue-grey eyes which 'dilated in moments of surprise or special interest, like an excited boy'. His many literary acquaintances often dropped in to see him at Cole's and enjoyed his kindly if ironic wit.