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Frederick Allen Joyner (1863–1945)

by Jean Waterhouse

This article was published:

Frederick Allen Joyner (1863-1945), solicitor, photographer and plant breeder, was born on 29 December 1863 at Wellington Square, North Adelaide, second of eight children of Edwin Vaughan Joyner, clerk, and his wife Harriet, née Allen. Following an education at North Adelaide Grammar School (Whinham College) and the University of Adelaide (LL.B., 1883), Frederick practised as a city solicitor for fifty years. On 25 September 1889 in North Adelaide, he married Annie Adelaide, sixth daughter of the city's leading stationer and bookseller Edgar Smith Wigg.

Joyner and his family lived in North Adelaide, where his neighbours G. D. Delprat, of Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, and Ernest Gall, a professional photographer, influenced him, as his involvement in mining ventures and photography showed. Another friend was H. P. Gill, later honorary curator of the Museums and Art Gallery of South Australia. Joyner wrote critiques of art exhibitions and was influential in preventing the acquisition of certain paintings by the art gallery board in 1908 and 1914. In 1899 he had been one of four men who financed Hans Heysen's five years of study in Europe—in return for title to everything painted in that time. From then Joyner was the artist's friend and legal adviser.

The earliest phase of Joyner's photographic work involved narrative studies of children, portraits and lantern slides, to illustrate his lectures on subjects ranging from bees to photographic techniques. He had joined the South Australian Photographic Society by at least 1896, was president several times and auditor until its demise in 1912. His work and that of other members was exhibited overseas. John Kauffmann, a professional photographer and fellow society member, introduced him to the new pictorial style of photography about 1898. In 1905-14 Joyner wrote a photographic column under the pen name of 'Diaphragm' for the monthly Faulding's Medical Journal. His venture into coloured photography in 1906 showed his awareness of the latest technology, as did his library.

The next stage of Joyner's photography consisted of hundreds of flower and vegetable studies relevant to his plant breeding, which he practised at his summer residence, Karkoo, in the Adelaide Hills. There he developed new types of daisy, sweet pea, lettuce and potato and an odourless onion. Under the pen-name 'Primrose', he wrote and illustrated gardening columns for local papers and for the weekly Gardening Bulletin, which he edited from 1917. In 1927 with Heysen he visited the Flinders Ranges: both were inspired by the light and grandeur of the area. Joyner's last stage of photographic art consisted almost entirely of Flinders Ranges scenes, pre-dating Harold Cazneaux by seven years. In 1930 the Art Gallery of South Australia bought some of his photographs.

Joyner's achievements suggested that he lived up to the motto on the Joyner coat-of-arms, granted in 1591, Non Dormio. He died after a long illness on 10 December 1945 at St Margaret's Hospital, Payneham, survived by his wife, son and daughter. His estate was sworn for probate at £17,521.

On his son's death in 1979, several hundred of Joyner's photographs were acquired by the A.G.S.A. and an exhibition of his work and equipment was held in 1981. The State Library of South Australia, which held in excess of 2500 glass plate negatives, printed all of these and mounted them in thirty, leather-bound volumes. These were part of an October 1990 exhibition at the library. The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and other Australian galleries also hold examples of his work.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Thiele, Heysen of Hahndorf (Adel, 1968)
  • Real Visions: The Life and Work of F. A. Joyner, exhibition catalogue (Adel, 1981)
  • E. S. Wigg and His Successors (Adel, 1992)
  • Australasian Photo-Review, Sept 1894
  • Register (Adelaide), 8 July 1914, p 11, 10 July 1914, p 13
  • Leader (Melbourne), 13 Jan 1917, p 12
  • Ernest Gall papers (State Library of South Australia)
  • family papers.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Jean Waterhouse, 'Joyner, Frederick Allen (1863–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Primrose

29 December, 1863
North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


10 December, 1945 (aged 81)
Payneham, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.