Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Monday, May 07, 2007

Boreham on the Value of Storytelling

For most of F W Boreham’s writing career, he discovered, along with other exponents of the art, how the storytelling style frees a writer and speaker from “the tendency to be didactic.”[1]

Many times Boreham said, “Our best reformers often fail us because they rely too exclusively on the negative approach … they attack this; they condemn that; they denounce the other. They forget that the best way of showing that a stick is crooked is by laying a straight one beside it.”[2] This principle underlay Boreham’s stories about people who embodied the values and virtues he was seeking to commend. “The contemplation of a great heroic sacrifice,” Boreham wrote, “must produce in the beholder a profound ethical effect.”[3]

Instead of scolding or spelling out instructions, Boreham respected the intelligence of his readers and trusted them to draw their own implications. His metaphors of ‘holding up a mirror’, ‘pointing’ and ‘poking … the fire’,[4] suggested that his editorials were not intended to be ready-made for they required the contemplation of the reader to complete the circuit of communication.

Geoff Pound

Image: Story telling is about ‘poking … the fire.’

[1] Alan David Gold, Minyan (Sydney: Flamingo, 1999), 105.
[2] F W Boreham, Mercury, 4 August 1956.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 25 April 1925.
[4] F W Boreham, A reel of rainbow (London: The Epworth Press, 1920), 118.