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Florens Theodor Reinhard Müller (1825–1881)

by Thomas A. Darragh

This article was published:

Florens Theodor Reinhard Müller (1825-1881), botanist and poet, was born on 26 December 1825 at Dresden, Saxony, son of Georg Heinrich Müller, administrative officer in the Saxon Office of Justice. Theodor was well educated and had some background in botany. He arrived in South Australia in 1849, probably aboard the Australia in September, and worked as a butcher in Adelaide before moving to Victoria in 1852 as a gold digger.

After mining at Bendigo, Müller moved to Back Creek in 1854 and later to goldfields in the Pyrenees. By 1857 he was quartz mining at Maryborough, where he remained until 1861. Müller helped to form German clubs at Maryborough and Back Creek, serving as secretary of both, and was also founding secretary of the short-lived Castlemaine German Club when he moved there in 1861 to work in the nursery and seed shop of Charles Lenne and Edward Nicolai. In September 1862 Müller moved to Melbourne, where he obtained a temporary position as assistant at the Botanic Gardens on 8 October and became active in the Melbourne Turnverein (gymnastics club). In July 1863 he was elected secretary of the newly formed central committee of the German Associations in Victoria.

Müller was best known in Victoria as a poet and writer in German. His 1857 poem, 'Der Digger', established his reputation among locals of German origin and was so popular that it was reprinted in 1859 and 1864. At least twenty of his other poems were published in German newspapers in Melbourne, many of them commemorating German meetings, anniversaries and other events held in Victoria. He was awarded a prize for his prologue, Gut Heil!, recited at the first general German gymnastic and song festival, held at Cremorne Gardens in November 1862. He also wrote two short novels, German Jack and Der Gefundene, which were serialized in Victoria Deutsche Presse and published together as Australische Buschgeschichten in 1860 by F. Gelbrecht. Several of his short articles and essays appeared in various Melbourne German-language newspapers.

On 30 April 1869 Müller resigned from the gardens. Returning to Dresden, he worked at the Natural History Museum and at the Royal Polytechnikum as custos of the botanical collection when it was transferred there from the museum. After his return to Saxony, he married Clara Bornowska; the couple had a foster-child Helena Bornowska. In Germany, Müller published some short articles on Australia, a novel, Australische Kolonisten oder Heute so—Morgan so! (1878), and a book on hunting, Jagden in Australien (1878). He died on 4 March 1881 at Dresden and was buried in Trinitätskirche cemetery; his wife and daughter survived him. Müller's poems and writings were sentimental and patriotic, but had a definite Australian flavour and appealed to the mass of Germans living in Victoria in the 1860s.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Fletcher in M. Clyne et al (eds), Antipodische Aufklärungen: Festschrift für Leslie Bodi (Frankfurt, Germany, 1987), p 87
  • A. Corkhill, Antipodean Encounters (Bern, Switzerland, 1990)
  • T. A. Darragh, ‘Theodor Müller, Victoria’s German Poet’, Bibliographical Society of Australian and New Zealand, Bulletin, 18, nos 2-3, 1994, p 118
  • Dresdener Anzeiger, 5 Mar 1881, p 14.

Citation details

Thomas A. Darragh, 'Müller, Florens Theodor Reinhard (1825–1881)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 21 May 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
  • Muller, Florens Theodor Reinhard

26 December, 1825
Dresden, Saxony, Germany


4 March, 1881 (aged 55)
Dresden, Germany

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.