James Hume Nisbet (8 August 1849 – 4 June 1923) was a Scottish-born novelist and artist, many of whose thrillers are set in Australia.
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. 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.
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. For eight years he was art master of the Watt Institution and School of Art, Edinburgh. 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.
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."
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. 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.
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) whose title story (about a haunted property or 'station' in the Australian Outback) has often been reprinted.
- The Land of the Hibiscus Blossom: A Yarn of the Papuan Gulf (1888)
- Doctor Bernard St. Vincent: A Sensational Romance of Sydney (1889)
- Ashes: A Tale of Two Spheres (1890)
- Bail Up!: A Romance of Bushrangers and Blacks (1890)
- The Black Drop (1891)
- The Savage Queen: A Romance of the Natives of Van Dieman's [sic] Land (1891)
- The "Jolly Roger". A Story of Sea Heroes and Pirates (1891)
- The Bushranger's Sweetheart : An Australian Romance (1892)
- The Divers: A Romance of Oceania (1892)
- Valdmer the Viking: A Romance of the Eleventh Century by Sea and Land (1893)
- The Queen's Desire (1893)
- A Bush Girl's Romance (1894)
- A Desert Bride (1894)
- Her Loving Slave. A Romance of Sedgemoor (1894)
- The Great Secret: A Tale of To-morrow (1895)
- The Rebel Chief: A Romance of New Zealand (1896)
- My Love Noel (1896)
- The Swampers: A Romance of the Westralian Goldfields (1897)
- A Sweet Sinner (1897)
- In Sheep's Clothing: A Romance of Upper Queensland (1900)
- Children of Hermes: A Romance of Love and Crime (1901)
- A Losing Game: An Australian Tragedy (1901)
- A Dream of Freedom: Romance of South America (1902)
- A Colonial King (1905)
- The Haunted Station and Other Stories (1894)
- Stories Weird and Wonderful (1900)
- Mistletoe Manor (1902)
- Cowan, Peter. "Nisbet, James Hume (1849–1923)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Mennell, Philip (1892). " Nisbet, Hume". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Nisbet, Hume". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Lamb, Hugh (20 Feb 2013). Tales from a Gas-Lit Graveyard. Courier Dover Publications. p. 9. ISBN 9780486152622. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- Works by Hume Nisbet at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Hume Nisbet at Internet Archive
- Works by Hume Nisbet at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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