Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Browne, Frank Styant (1854–1938)

by Paul A. C. Richards

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

This is a shared entry with Emma Ann Browne

Frank Styant Browne (1854-1938), pharmacist and photographer, and Emma Ann Browne (1857-1941), philanthropist, were husband and wife. Frank was born on 10 July 1854 at Norwich, Norfolk, England, son of George Browne, bookseller, and his wife Ann, née Styant. Educated at King Edward VI School, Norwich, Derby Grammar School and Westminster College of Pharmacy, Frank was apprenticed to a chemist and also studied at the Derby School of Art in the 1870s. He lived in London for a short time before marrying Emma Ann Elmes in the parish church, Wimborne, Dorset, on 22 June 1882.

Born on 24 February 1857 at Wareham, Dorset, daughter of John Clifford Elmes, journeyman coachbuilder, and his wife Matilda, née Warland, Emma had been educated at a private school. The couple arrived in Hobart in November 1882. After working with H. T. Gould, a friend and fellow college student, next year Browne established a homoeopathic pharmacy in Elizabeth Street, in association with Dr Harry Benjafield. Later in 1883 he moved to Launceston, where he operated a homoeopathic pharmacy in Elizabeth Street, then in Fergusons Block, Brisbane Street, and from about 1887 until his retirement in 1932 at 112 Brisbane Street.

Browne's enthusiasm for photography led to the formation in 1889 of the Northern Tasmanian Camera Club. At the first meeting, held in his pharmacy, he was elected honorary secretary, a position he held for some twenty years. In June 1891 he photographed some of the first Australian demonstrations of sound recording on wax cylinders. Obtaining an X-ray plant in June 1896, in September he became the first in Tasmania to demonstrate X-ray photography successfully. A year later he demonstrated examples of three-colour photography to the N.T.C.C., in 1901 gave the earliest known Australian demonstration of a home movie projector and in 1905 took colour photographs, probably among the first to be produced in Australia. He won many photographic awards within Australia and overseas.

In 1890 Styant Browne (as he was generally known) had been elected to the northern council of the Pharmaceutical Council. President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Tasmania in 1906-07, he was a board-member for many years and an examiner in botany. He was appointed a justice of the peace on 21 December 1916. With the decline of impressionism in photography, he increasingly turned to painting as a spare time pursuit. For several years he was president of the Launceston Art Society.

Browne had helped to found the Homoeopathic Cottage Hospital, which opened at Launceston in 1900. He was honorary secretary until 1929, while Emma was a board-member from its inception to the time of her resignation in 1924. An untiring philanthropic worker, she was a founder of the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital at Launceston, a life member of the Victoria League, a member of the Shakespearian Society, a reciter of Shakespearian plays and a writer of essays on ethical and political subjects. She was also one of the earliest members of the National Council of Women, sometime honorary secretary, vice-president and finally president for northern Tasmania.

The Brownes had one daughter and six sons; four sons served in World War I, one having also served in the Boer War. Frank died on 17 April 1938 at his home at Launceston and Emma on 24 October 1941. Their children survived them, including a son Frank who was also a photographer. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, holds a collection of Styant Browne's work.

Select Bibliography

  • M. McArthur (ed), Prominent Tasmanians (Hob, 1924)
  • Salute to the X-Ray Pioneers of Australia (Syd, 1946)
  • C. Long, Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940 (Hob, 1995)
  • P. A. C. Richards, ‘A Brisbane Street Homoeopath: Frank Styant Browne, Dispenser of Medicines’, Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 44, no 4, Dec 1997, p 261
  • Examiner (Launceston), 18 Apr 1938, p 6.

Citation details

Paul A. C. Richards, 'Browne, Frank Styant (1854–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/browne-frank-styant-12821/text23145, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 17 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

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