HORNUNG, Ernest William (1866-1921)

HORNUNG, Ernest William (1866-1921)
son of John Peter Hornung, was born at Middlesbrough, England, on 7 June 1866. He was educated at Uppingham during some of the later years of its great headmaster, Edward Thring, and in 1884 went to Australia. He returned to England in 1886, and though his Australian experience had been so short, it coloured most of his literary work from A Bride from the Bush published in 1899, to Old Offenders and a few Old Scores, which appeared after his death. He was best known for his volumes of short stories in which "Raffles" is the central character, which are excellent of their kind. His brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. thought, however, that they harmed Hornung's reputation, as they got between the public and his better work. He considered Peccavi (1900) an outstanding novel, and Fathers of Men (1912), "one of the very best school tales in the language". Among his other books The Rogue's March (1896) may be especially mentioned. A list of about 30 volumes by Hornung will be found in Miller's Australian Literature. He married in 1893 Constance, daughter of Charles A. Doyle. Their only son and child was killed at Ypres, and Hornung then took up work with the Y.M.C.A. in France. His Notes of a Camp-Follower, published in 1919, gives a moving account of his experiences. He died at St Jean de Luz France on 22 March 1921. His wife survived him.
In addition to his novels and short stories Hornung wrote some good war verse, and a play based on the Raffles stories was produced successfully. He was much interested in cricket, and was "a man of large and generous nature, a delightful companion and conversationalist".
The Times, 24 March 1921; Who's Who, 1921; Introductions to Hornung's Old Offenders, Fathers of Men, 1919 edition, and Stingaree; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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