Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Boreham and a Lesson on Involvement

When F W Boreham wrote his first impromptu leader for the Otago Daily Times during the Boer War, he addressed a subject of national importance, giving both an historic perspective and a timely word to his readers who were wrestling with the vital issues of war, empire, voluntarism, service and sacrifice.[1] He acknowledged later his good fortune in the timing of the national call-up for war, which “exactly synchronized with my excitement over Gibbon.”[2] Boreham’s first editorial was representative of American playright Arthur Miller’s later assessment, when he said, “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.”[3]

It is instructive that F W Boreham’s editorials contributed most to the local and national conversation when he was deeply involved in religious and political leadership in Otago, New Zealand, and in Hobart, Australia. These early editorials possessed immediacy, vigor and conviction because they tackled current issues of local and national importance and because he engaged with other writers and commentators. Boreham’s editorials for the Mercury on war themes clearly exemplified an editor naming and reflecting on the issues in the hearts and minds of his readers.

The breakdown of his health in 1916 and his move to Melbourne signaled a major shift in Boreham’s editorial career, marked by a noticeable silence on war themes and an increase in editorials of escape and inspiration. Writing editorials from the mainland over the next forty-three years inevitably resulted in a growing detachment from local issues in Hobart.

Geoff Pound

Image: Wedge Bay, a place of holidays and recuperation after his break down in health. Photo taken by FWB, circa 1911.

[1] F W Boreham, Otago Daily Times, 15 June 1900.
[2] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 150-151.
[3] Arthur Miller, Observer, 26 November 1961.