Hume Nisbet

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James Hume Nisbet (8 August 1849 – 4 June 1923)[1] was a Scottish-Australian author and artist.

Nisbet was born at Stirling, Scotland and received special artistic training, and was educated under the Rev. Dr. Culross (later of Bristol College) up to the age of fifteen.[2] At 16 years of age he came to Australia and stayed about seven years, during which he travelled to Tasmania, New Zealand, and the South Sea Islands, painting and sketching and writing poetry and stories, besides making notes for future work. Of this period he spent one year acquiring theatrical experience at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, under the well-known actor Richard Stewart.[2]

Nisbet returned to London in 1872, and spent some time in studying and copying pictures in the National Gallery and at South Kensington. At the end of the next year he went back to Scotland, and devoted himself to art, with an occasional lapse into literature.[2] For eight years he was art master of the Watt Institution and School of Art, Edinburgh.[2] He travelled in Australia and New Guinea again during 1886, and paid another visit to Australia in 1895. He had studied painting under Sam Bough, R.S.A., but does not appear to have had any success; in a volume called Where Art Begins, published by him in 1892, he speaks with bitterness on the chances of success in painting.[3]

Among his best-known paintings are "Eve's first Moonrise," "The Flying Dutchman," "The Dream of Sardanapalus," four pictures of "The Ancient Mariner," and "The Battle of Dunbar."[2]

Nisbet devoted most of his time to writing and published many volumes of verse, books on art and fiction. Several of his novels are coloured by his Australian experiences and appear to have had some success.[3] Miller in his Australian Literature lists about 40 novels published between 1888 and 1905. During the next 10 years he published a few more books including Hathor and Other Poems, which appeared as the first volume of his poetic and dramatic works in 1905. There was another edition in 1908.[3]

Many of Nisbet's volumes were of ghost stories. These include Paths of the Dead (1899), Stories Weird and Wonderful (1900), and The Haunted Station (1894)[4] whose title story (about a haunted property or 'station' in the Australian Outback) has often been reprinted.

Nisbet was a member of the Yorick Club, London, and a friend of Philip Mennell.[1] Nisbet died in Eastbourne, Sussex, England on 4 June 1923.[1]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Cowan, Peter. "Nisbet, James Hume (1849–1923)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Nisbet, Hume". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource
  3. ^ a b c Serle, Percival (1949). "Nisbet, Hume". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. 
  4. ^ Lamb, Hugh (20 Feb 2013). Tales from a Gas-Lit Graveyard. Courier Dover Publications. p. 9. ISBN 9780486152622. Retrieved 18 June 2014.