The Goulburn Post is marking its 150th anniversary this month with a series of stories about our proud history. The newspaper started 50 years after Lachlan Macquarie and his exploration party toured the Goulburn Plains in 1820, leading to the establishment of the first townships. The Post will publish a special souvenir edition on Wednesday, October 28. All of our stories will also be available at this link. Today's story is about influential editor, Thomas Hebblewhite.
"The newspaper is teacher and taught; the forged and the forger of the thunderbolt of public opinion...It is a teacher whose forum is the wide world and whose text is the universe...It is the many sided conversation of the day crystallised."
So wrote Thomas J Hebblewhite in August, 1885, the year he was appointed Goulburn Evening Penning Post editor.
From all accounts, Hebblewhite held firm to those ideals throughout his life. His obituary following his death in January, 1923 heaped high praise.
"A stalwart Democrat, he was fearless in attacking everything that stood between the people and the attainment of their just rights," it stated.
He was regarded as one of the most influential and passionate editors of his time and famously mentored the young author, Miles Franklin who lived at Thornford, near Goulburn.
Thomas Hebblewhite was born in Newport, East Yorkshire, in 1857 and visited Australia for a major exhibition in Sydney, his obituary stated. He later returned with his wife and children and edited a Church of England newspaper before being appointed GEPP editor in 1885 to 1900.
He backed free trade and land nationalisation and was widely respected for his editorial writing on social and economic issues.
In the mid to late 1890s, Hebblewhite exchanged a series of letters with Stella 'Miles' Franklin. Her Thornford School teacher, Mae Gillespie, had given him Franklin's first 60,000-word manuscript to critique.
"If I might make a suggestion, I should strongly advise you to leave the unfamiliar world of lords and ladies and strive to interpret the soul and meaning of things which are at hand," he wrote to the author.
In 1899 after reading the manuscript of My Brilliant Career he pointed out "minor defects...but had only praise for the realistic fidelity that was everywhere in evidence," his letter stated.
Local historian and Lieder Theatre president, Jennifer Lamb, who wrote a play about Franklin, said Hebblewhite's words gave Miles the confidence to take the manuscript to Henry Lawson.
The work was published and Franklin gave the editor a signed copy.
"I may be partial in my judgement, but I consider My Brilliant Career as a veritable transcript of the Australian bush, to be the most minutely faithful of all I have seen," Hebblewhite later wrote.
He was succeeded as editor by his lead journalist, Henry Pinn, who had joined the newspaper in 1876. He edited until 1923, with Hebblewhite by his side until 1920.
The latter wrote fondly of his time working with Pinn.
"So thoroughly did each come to know how, in 19 out of 20 matters of current interest, the other would think and reason and conclude that there was no need for consultation except to avoid overlapping and unnecessary duplication of copy," Rod Kirkpatrick related in his book, Country Conscience.
Hebblewhite died at his Victoria Street home, Brantingham in 1923.
His obituary noted that the last item he wrote was an unfinished letter to his good friend and Goulburn industrial complex owner, William Bartlett.
"I am dragging my anchor," Hebblewhite wrote.
'Then the pen evidently fell from his nerveless grip.'
- With thanks to Jennifer Lamb for her assistance with Miles Franklin's letters.
While you're with us...
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.