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Hogan, James Francis (1855–1924)

by John R. Thompson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

James Francis Hogan (1855-1924), teacher, journalist, author and politician, was born on 29 December 1855 near Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland, the only son and younger child of Rody Hogan and Mary, farm workers. The family migrated to Melbourne in the Atalanta in 1856 and settled in Geelong. James was educated at St Mary's Catholic School, Geelong, and for a year at St Patrick's College, Melbourne. He contemplated taking religious orders but in 1872 turned to teaching after passing his examination through the Victorian Education Department. Near Geelong he taught first at Anakie, then at Flinders school and in 1877-81 was headmaster of St Mary's.

While teaching Hogan contributed to newspapers and journals and the success of his work inspired him to become a professional writer. His first article, 'The Tests of Efficiency in Public Schools', appeared in 1873. In 1878 The Catholic Case Stated … attracted wide attention. This pamphlet was essentially an emotional statement defending the claim of the Catholic denomination in Victoria to state aid for the secular instruction given in Catholic schools. Hogan contributed regularly to the Geelong Advertiser, to Mortimer Franklyn's Victorian Review and to the Advocate, a Catholic weekly.

In 1881 Hogan abandoned teaching, went to Melbourne, became sub-editor of the Victorian Review and soon joined the Argus. He continued to contribute to a variety of papers and maintained an active association with Irish-Catholic movements. In 1884-87 he presided over the Victorian Catholic Young Men's Society and was secretary to the committee which organized the erection of the O'Connell statue in the grounds of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. In 1886 he published a biographical sketch of Archbishop James Goold and an anthology of his own work under the title An Australian Christmas Collection. Next year he went to England seeking a wider field for his writing. In London he published his best-known work, The Irish in Australia (1887), which ran to three editions. Although praised by Sir Charles Gavan Duffy in the Contemporary Review, it offers an uncritical assessment of the Irish contribution to Australian development and fails as an objective study. Hogan contributed to many journals and became recognized as an authority on Australian affairs. His larger works published in London included The Australian in London and America (1889), The Lost Explorer (1890), The Convict King … Jorgen Jorgenson (1891), Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke (1893), The Sister Dominions (1896) and The Gladstone Colony (1898). These works were of variable quality, the best being the Lowe biography and The Sister Dominions. The others were somewhat superficial, while the fictional works were marred by melodrama.

In 1893 Hogan gained pre-selection for the middle division of Tipperary and on 26 February was elected unopposed to the House of Commons. As a member of parliament till 1900 he took a stand as an Irish Nationalist, supporting the government of Ireland bill. Colonial affairs were the subject of his other parliamentary interests and he acted as secretary of the Colonial Party, an unofficial grouping of British parliamentarians who had had first-hand experience in some part of the colonial empire. The group was led by Sir Charles Dilke. Hogan returned to Australia only once, for the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901. He then returned to England where he lived quietly until his death in London on 9 November 1924. He never married and was survived by his sister Margaret.

While Hogan's career was marked by dedication, his achievements were small and marginal in their effect. Single-minded and steadfast, he had a rigid personal morality and a strong conception of the responsibilities of citizenship. As a writer Hogan was a conscientious and competent journalist but his creative work was not outstanding.

Select Bibliography

  • Table Talk, 3 Mar 1893, 17 Nov 1894
  • Advocate (Melbourne), 13 Nov 1924.

Citation details

John R. Thompson, 'Hogan, James Francis (1855–1924)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hogan-james-francis-3780/text5973, published in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 26 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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