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Antoine Julien Fauchery (1827–1861)

by K. M. O'Neill

This article was published:

Antoine Julien Fauchery (1827?-1861), writer and photographer, was born in Paris, son of Julien Fauchery and Sophie Gilberte Soret. After trying his hand at painting and wood-engraving, he turned to literature and contributed in particular to the Corsaire-Satan. In 1848 he left Paris with the photographer Nadar, supposedly to defend Poland but was instead imprisoned for a time in Magdeburg. In 1852 Fauchery sailed from Gravesend in the Emily for Melbourne, where he arrived on 22 October. He went to Ballarat and for two years worked on the goldfields. In 1854-55 he spent several months in Melbourne where, at 76 Little Bourke Street East, he founded the Café-Estaminet Français which was well patronized by non-British residents of the town. He returned to the goldfields and for some months was a store-keeper at the Jim Crow (Daylesford) diggings. This venture failed so he went to Melbourne and on 1 March 1856 sailed in the Roxburg Castle for England. Twelve days later Calino, Charge D'atelier, a play he had written with Théodore Barrière, was staged with some success in his absence at the Vaudeville Theatre in Paris. In that year La Résurrection de Lazare, a 'drama in letter form' that he had written in collaboration with Henri Murger was published in Paris. Back in France Fauchery published his eight Lettres d'un Mineur en Australie in fifteen instalments from 9 January to 8 February 1857 in Le Moniteur Universel. They were supplied with a preface by Banville and brought out as a volume by Auguste Poulet-Malassis, a newly-established publisher who had just won notoriety with his first edition of Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal.

On 15 January 1857 at Montmartre Fauchery married Louise Joséphine Gatineau, who had apparently accompanied him to Australia. In April he applied for an official photographic mission to Australia, India and China, and was granted 500 francs by the French government. On 20 July with a lady who gave her name as Julie Fauchery he sailed from London in the Sydenham and on 2 November reached Melbourne. Throughout 1858 he worked as a photographer with a studio at 132 Collins Street East. His work was outstanding, particularly for his time, but in a letter of 20 February 1859 he complained to the French minister of Public Instruction that 'the people of Melbourne did not understand all that was legitimate in [his] desire' to photograph them. Next day he sailed from Melbourne for Manila. In 1860 the French government gave him 1000 francs to leave Manila and follow the French military expedition to China as photographer and journalist. From July to November 1860 he wrote a series of Lettres de Chine, which were published in fifteen instalments in Le Moniteur, from 12 October 1860 to 3 February 1861. Taken ill in China, he went to Japan where he died at Yokohama on 27 April 1861 from the combined effects of gastritis and dysentery.

His Lettres d'un Mineur are his chief claim to interest as a writer, and they paint a vivid picture of life in early Melbourne and on the goldfields. Happily Fauchery, unlike most English commentators of the time, is not given to moralizing; as an ardent Republican of 1848 he is constantly, and at times outspokenly, on the side of liberty, against oppressors of all kinds. Hostile to capitalists and scornful of squatters, he is sympathetic to emancipists, diggers, Jews, and above all Chinese. Though his sympathies do not extend to the Aboriginals, they enable him to write imaginatively on the convict system, and to suggest something of the contribution convict and digger would make to the development of national character. But if he has political sympathies, Fauchery is not a political thinker: he shows virtually no interest in the nature of government in Victoria, and no awareness of its earlier social history. He briefly mentions the insurrection at Eureka, but he was then in Melbourne and glosses over the episode as of little account. Through all his endeavours to come to terms with his new experiences he remains a minor Romantic, one of the lesser writers of la bohème; he is at his best in his poetic descriptions of the natural scene, and at his most original when he manages to convey something of the quality of its impact upon a fine French sensibility.

Select Bibliography

  • P. Larousse, Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe Siecle, vol 1 supplement (Paris, 1877)
  • J. Cato, The Story of the Camera in Australia (Melb, 1955)
  • A. Fauchery, Letters from a Miner in Australia, translator A. R. Chisholm (Melb, 1965)
  • Illustrated Melbourne News, Jan-Feb 1858
  • dossier no F17 2961 (Archives Nationales, Paris)
  • photograph album under Fauchery (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

K. M. O'Neill, 'Fauchery, Antoine Julien (1827–1861)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Paris, France


27 April, 1861 (aged ~ 34)
Yokohama, Japan

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