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Schuler, Gottlieb Frederick Heinrich (1853–1926)

by John Hurst

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Gottlieb Frederick Heinrich Schuler (1853-1926), journalist, was born on 23 February 1853 at Heimerdingen, Württemberg, son of Jacob Friderich Schüler and his wife Christine Catharine, née Frey. He came to Victoria from Stuttgart about 1860 with his parents and was educated at Sandhurst (Bendigo) where his father settled after moving around the goldfields. On leaving school he was appointed to the staff of the Bendigo Independent. Transferring to the Bendigo Advertiser, he specialized as a mining reporter, gaining such an extensive knowledge that the Victorian government later unsuccessfully offered him a permanent position in London to advise potential investors.

In March 1879 Frederick Schuler joined the Age. As principal political writer he gained an unrivalled knowledge of Victorian politics and public affairs, on which he became an influential voice. Well-read in English, French and German literature, Schuler was also for many years theatre critic. On 3 October 1888 he married Sarah Deborah Strahan at Richmond; they had two daughters and a son.

Appointed chief of staff in 1890, Schuler was closely associated with the continuing influence and commercial success of the Age, a mass-circulating penny paper. He was at the centre of the bitter controversy which led in 1893-94 to the famous libel actions against the Age by the chief railway commissioner, Richard Speight. The case greatly enhanced the reputation of Schuler, who had written some of the articles on which it was based and prepared much of the material for the successful defence.

On 1 January 1900 Schuler became editor, a position which he held until his death. His radical protectionist views were in line with the Age's policy; and his political knowledge, courage, wisdom and foresight lent distinction to the paper. 'A little man, close-lipped, keen-eyed, self-contained and Jewish in appearance though … not Jewish', Schuler never came much before the public. But colleagues respected his 'stern sense of duty', 'broad human sympathies', 'innate modesty' and 'tact in leadership'. He was loved for his 'beaming cordiality'; 'his cheeriness equalled his courage', wrote a colleague, Benjamin Hoare.

During World War I Schuler survived public and private antagonism to him for his German birth. To his great grief, his only son Philip Frederick Edward (1889-1917) was killed in action in France on 23 June 1917. As war correspondent for the Age he had arrived at Gallipoli with the Australian Imperial Force, and had subsequently published Australia in Arms (1916). In April 1916 he had enlisted with the 3rd Divisional Train, A.I.F., as a driver and had been promoted lieutenant in May 1917.

A friend of J. W. Lindt, Sir Baldwin Spencer and William Sutherland, Frederick Schuler became more withdrawn after his son's death, finding consolation in reading, art and music. He died suddenly at his Hawthorn home on 11 December 1926, and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery. His wife and two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Punch (Melbourne), 21 May 1914
  • Age (Melbourne), 13 Dec 1926
  • Argus (Melbourne), 13 Dec 1926
  • Bulletin, 16 Dec 1926.

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Citation details

John Hurst, 'Schuler, Gottlieb Frederick Heinrich (1853–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/schuler-gottlieb-frederick-heinrich-8360/text14589, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 22 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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