BOOTHBY, Guy Newell (1867-1905)

BOOTHBY, Guy Newell (1867-1905)
known as Guy Boothby
was born at Adelaide on 12 October 1867. His grandfather, Benjamin Boothby (1803-1868), who was a judge of the supreme court of South Australia from 1853 to 1867, took strong exception to the validity of colonial enactments and various attempts were made to remove him from the bench. He succeeded in justifying his position to the extent that it was necessary to have an Imperial validating act passed. His obstructive methods became so pronounced, that he was removed from office by the executive council in July 1867. He died on 21 June 1868. His son, Thomas Wilde Boothby, who for a time was a member of the house of assembly at Adelaide, was the father of Guy Boothby. The boy was educated at Salisbury, near Adelaide, and Christ's Hospital, London. In 1890 he wrote the libretto for a comic opera, Sylvia, which was published and produced at Adelaide in December 1890, and in 1891 appeared The Jonquil: an Opera. The music in each case was written by Cecil James Sharp (q.v.), afterwards to become well-known for his studies in folk song. About this time Boothby was private secretary to the mayor of Adelaide. In 1894 he published On the Wallaby or Through the East and Across Australia, an account of the travels of himself and his brother, including a description of their journey across Australia from Cooktown to Adelaide. In the same year his first novel, In Strange Company, was published in London and was quickly successful. Boothby went to London and for the next 10 years poured out a constant stream of novels. About 50 are listed in Miller's Australian Literature. He died at Bournemouth on 26 February 1905. He married Rose Allen Bristowe, who survived him with three children.
Boothby used his Australian experiences to some extent in his books, but he roamed the world in search of adventure and sensation. In his third novel, appeared Dr Nikola, a sinister figure, who is prominent in several of the later books and helped to give Boothby wide popularity as a writer of exciting fiction. Probability is stretched to the utmost in his books and the suggestion of the writer of The Times obituary notice that they hold a similar position in the world of fiction to the old Adelphi melodramas on the stage, is possibly a sufficiently adequate summing up of their value as literature.
P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; The Register, Adelaide, 1 March 1905; The Times, 28 February 1905; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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