Banfield, E.J. (Edmund James), 1852-1923

Variant names

Hide Profile

Edmund James Banfield, author and naturalist, worked as a reporter in North Queensland before settling on Dunk Island in 1897. His diary of nature observations became the basis of subsequent articles and books, including 'The Confessions of a Beachcomber' (1908), 'My Tropic Isle' (1911), 'Tropic Days' (1918), and 'Last Leaves from Dunk Island' (1925). An enthusiastic promoter of Australia and a passionate spokesman for the preservation of North Queensland in its natural state, Banfield died in 1923.

From the description of Papers, 1970 [manuscript] 1970. (The University of Queensland Library). WorldCat record id: 62537444

From the description of Papers [manuscript]. 1970. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 224427577

Edmund James Banfield (1852-1923), author and naturalist, was born on 4 September 1852 at Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England, son of Jabez Walter Banfield (1820-1899), printer, and his wife Sarah Ann, nee̓ Smith. In the 1870s he worked on the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and in 1882 became reporter and sub-editor with the Townsville Daily Bulletin in Queensland. In 1884, probably with the backing of Burns Philp & Co., he travelled to England; while there an eye injured in childhood was removed, and he met Bertha Golding, who migrated to Townsville to marry him on 3 August 1886 at St James' Anglican Church. He had published The Torres Straits Route from Queensland to England in Townsville in 1885.

Banfield reported Robert Philp on his first election campaign in 1886, and in 1890 organized fund-raising functions for the North Queensland separation movement. He settled on Dunk Island from 28 September 1897.

Banfield was commissioned by the government to write Within the Barrier (Townsville, 1907), a tourist guide to the coastal areas of North Queensland. His most famous work, The Confessions of a Beachcomber (London, 1908), later translated widely, was dedicated to Philp on whose recommendation he had become a justice of the peace in 1899. Confessions was followed by My Tropic Isle (London, 1911), much of which had appeared originally in the North Queensland Register as 'Rural Homilies', and by Tropic Days (London, 1918). Surprised at the interest of the world in his 'prosaic' life, he described himself as a 'sedate and determined man' who resented gratuitous violations of his privacy; at least one enthusiastic reader arrived unannounced hoping to share his idyllic existence. Last Leaves from Dunk Island (Sydney, 1925), published posthumously, was a collection of sketches compiled by Alec Chisholm largely from Townsville Daily Bulletin articles. (Information taken from )

From the description of 27634 Edmund Banfield's Collection, 1893-1923. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 755780845

Relation Name
associatedWith Booth, Heber Hedley. person
associatedWith Chisholm, Alec H. (Alec Hugh), 1890-1977. person
associatedWith Haenke, Helen, 1916-1978. person
associatedWith Hopkins, Katie. person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1852-09-04

Death 1923-06-02




Ark ID: w6bk41xt

SNAC ID: 6620578