About the Author:
George Lewis Becke (or Louis Becke; 18 June 1855 – 18 February 1913) was an Australian Pacific trader, short-story writer and novelist. n January 1892 Becke returned to Sydney and persuaded by Ernest Favenc and J. F. Archibald began to contribute stories to The Bulletin, the first of which was 'Tis in the Blood appearing in the edition of 6 May 1893. A collection of these stories, By Reef and Palm, was published in England in 1894; His Native Wife, a novelette, was published in Australia in 1895; followed by a further collection of stories, The Ebbing of the Tide, which was published in 1896. Becke went to London about the beginning of 1896, helped by Archibald and William Macleod of The Bulletin who advanced him the sum of £200, and he remained in Europe for around 15 years, during which time a large number of collections of short stories and a few novels and stories for boys were published. Becke was fairly paid by the magazines for his stories, but his books were always sold outright and never on a royalty basis, he was not a wealthy man. His writings were of variable quality, but have been compared to Rudyard Kipling, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. Becke was in Sydney again in the middle of 1909 and died of cancer there on 18 February 1913, working up until his death. About 30 of Becke's books are listed in E. Morris Miller's Australian Literature with six other volumes written in collaboration with Walter J. Jeffrey. He was survived by his wife and a daughter. Becke had said that any literary success he had achieved was due entirely to the training received from the editor of The Bulletin (J. F. Archibald) "who taught me the secrets of condensation and simplicity of language" Once having learned this Becke had a wealth of experience to draw upon and, though there was inevitably some monotony of theme, he wrote a very large number of stories that can still be read with interest, and show him to have been a writer of considerable ability. By Reef and Palm and Ebbing of the Tide received both good reviews and strong sales; with By Reef and Palm going through 7 reprints between 1894 and 1924. Almost all of Becke's works were published in America by J. B. Lippincott of Philadelphia. Becke was criticised by some reviewers for lapses in grammar and taste. His Native Wife was unfavourably received in America because of its subject matter; J. B. Lippincott also refused to publish The Mutineer: A Romance of Pitcairn Island.
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