John Stanley JamesPrint Page
John Stanley James was an author best known as "The Vagabond".
In April 1876 the Melbourne Argus published `A Night in the Model Lodging House` written anonymously by James and signed by `A Vagabond`, the first of a series on `the social life and public institutions of Melbourne from a point of view unattainable to the majority`. The most substantial of the series were based on his first-hand reports of what it was like to be `inside` certain institutions: to gather material, he spent a day in the Immigrants` Home, was admitted to the Benevolent Asylum and worked as the porter at the Alfred Hospital, an attendant at lunatic asylums and dispenser-cum-dentist at Pentridge gaol.
His accounts of these institutions combined intimate knowledge of their day-to-day working with a breadth of perspective gained from his knowledge of other societies. His shrewd observation, practical judgments and suggestions for reform reveal a compassionate spirit behind his cultivated flamboyancy. His articles were successful partly because of the mystery of their authorship
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