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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Loyau, George Ettienne (1835–1898)

by J. H. Love

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

George Ettienne Loyau (1835-1898), by unknown photographer, c1890

George Ettienne Loyau (1835-1898), by unknown photographer, c1890

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 5961

George Ettienne Loyau (1835-1898), journalist and author, was born on 15 April 1835 in London, son of George Ettienne Loyau and his wife Catharine, née Chanson. His father died when he was a year old and his mother lived mostly on the Continent while he went to school in England. At 15 he took up clerical work. He sailed from Gravesend in the Investigator and arrived at Sydney on 4 August 1853. For seven years he travelled in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, his occupations including gold digger, shepherd, hut-keeper, shearer, overseer, stockman, cattle drover, cook, private tutor and press correspondent.

Loyau became editor of the Burnett Argus at Gayndah in 1861 but after four months transferred to the Maryborough Chronicle and in 1862 became parliamentary reporter and sub-editor on the Queensland Daily Guardian in Brisbane. In 1865 he moved to Sydney where he stayed for eleven years doing newspaper and clerical work between periods of unemployment. He also published three slim volumes of poetry: The Australian Seasons and Australian Wild Flowers in 1871 and Colonial Lyrics in 1872. After six months as editor of the Gundagai Times he moved in 1876 to Melbourne where he worked as a ticket writer and journalist. In April 1877 he moved to Adelaide and in August launched The Australian Family Herald: A Weekly Magazine of Interesting Literature, but only three issues seem to have appeared. He was editor of the Gawler Bunyip in 1878-79 and of the Illustrated Adelaide News in 1880-81. In South Australia he published The Gawler Handbook in 1880, Representative Men of South Australia and The Personal Adventures of George E. Loyau in 1883 and Notable South Australians in 1885. He also edited The South Australian Annual: Australian tales by well known writers in 1877. By 1895 he was back in Queensland where he wrote The History of Maryborough in 1897. He died of apoplexy at Bundaberg on 23 April 1898. He was predeceased by his first wife, Eliza Ann, née Sharpe, whom he had married in Brisbane on 5 May 1862, and by his second wife Paulina, née Lynch, whom he had married in Sydney on 13 December 1865. He was survived by his third wife Eleanor Anne, née Parker, and by two sons and four daughters of his eight children.

Loyau had begun writing verses as early as 1854, and claimed to have contributed poems, novels, short stories and other articles to many newspapers. Despite this work he lived in poverty for much of his life, occasionally complaining about the lack of public appreciation of literature. Few of his poems have outlived nineteenth-century taste. He was capable of great variety in prose style, from flowery journalism and tedious descriptions to straightforward narrative and lively, whimsical anecdotes. His Gawler Handbook and History of Maryborough are valuable sources for local history, although the latter suffers from hasty compilation. His best and most consistent work is in the two volumes of short biographies of his South Australian contemporaries.

Select Bibliography

  • The Poetical Works of George Ettienne Loyau (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

J. H. Love, 'Loyau, George Ettienne (1835–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 23 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

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