Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Boreham and the Issue of Literary Courage

The early years of F W Boreham’s public ministry revealed his bold outspokenness in addressing social issues and his condemnation of harmful and erroneous social practices.

Spurred on by mentors who modelled a ‘civic Christianity’ and increasing his knowledge through reading, his writing was developing a breadth of interest. Frank Boreham had a painful encounter with controversy through the pages of the Otago Daily Times newspaper which led him to make a vow never to become entangled in public controversy again. This self-imposed silence lacked courage, involved a sacrifice of truth and, as he later confessed, it diminished his editorial duty. This decision weakened his editorial responsibilities of protesting and provoking his readers. It limited Boreham’s range of subjects and severely curbed his engagement with readers on sensitive matters of ethical complexity and public debate.

There were very few readers who engaged with Boreham through the newspaper so it is difficult to determine who comprised his readership or to judge the response of readers to his editorials. The lack of letters to the editor concerning his articles appears to endorse the view that he adopted an encouraging style. He had a difference of opinion over style with the editor of the Age and Boreham’s stand indicated that he possessed the courage to maintain his new approach even at the risk of losing his editorial role.

Geoff Pound

Image: The courage to write.