Henry Hyde Champion

Henry Hyde Champion

Henry Hyde Champion (22 January 185930 April 1928) social reformer and journalist, active in Australia.__NOTOC__

Early life

Champion was born in Poona, India, the son of Major-General James Hyde Champion, and his wife Henrietta Susan, "née" Urquhart, of aristocratic Scottish descent. Henry was sent to England at four years of age to attend a day school and from 13 was educated at Marlborough College, later he attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He entered the army fought with the artillery in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. There he caught typhoid and was sent back to England. A radical friend showed Champion the London East End slums; his friend also accompanied Champion to the United States where Champion was influenced by the writings of Henry George.

ocialist in England

Champion resigned his army commission 17 September 1882 and joined the socialist movement, became honorary secretary of the Social Democratic Federation, and wrote and worked for a socialist paper, "Justice". In 1886 with John Burns, Henry Hyndman and J. Williams he was indicted for seditious conspiracy in connexion with the Trafalgar Square riots, after conducting his own defence he was acquitted.

Champion bought a half-share in a printing plant and published a paper called "To-Day", and in 1885-6 George Bernard Shaw's early novel Cashel Byron's Profession appeared in it as a serial. It was published separately by Champion in 1886. This was the first of Shaw's works published in book form. In 1889 Champion was one of the leaders of the dock labourers' strike, to the funds of which a large sum was sent from Australia. Soon afterwards he had a disagreement with some of his fellow socialists, broke away, and for a time was assistant-editor of the "Nineteenth Century". He stood as an independent candidate for the House of Commons at Aberdeen, but, though he polled fairly well, was defeated and soon afterwards went to Melbourne to find relief from illness, arriving on 12 August 1890.


In 1895 Champion established a weekly paper the "Champion" which lasted until 1897, and he also published in Melbourne in 1895 "The Root of the Matter", a series of dialogues on social questions, which gave moderate statement of the socialist position, but attracted little attention. Champion could not, however, find his place in politics in Australia. He could not see eye to eye with the Australian Labor Party, and a statement, possibly made in haste, that this party consisted of lions led by asses did not help the position. He was a candidate for South Melbourne for the Victorian Legislative Assembly supported now by many at the Trades Hall; the campaign revolved round his personal reputation and he had the satisfaction of prosecuting Max Hirsch and extracting an apology and costs, however he lost the election.

Champion then settled down as a leader writer for The Age. His wife successfully conducted the Book Lovers' Library and Bookshop, and in connection with this Champion published a monthly literary paper, the "Book Lover", which ran 1899–1921. He also wrote occasionally for the "Socialist" and The Bulletin. He had a long period of ill-health before his death at Melbourne on 30 April 1928. He married Elsie Belle, daughter of Lieut.-Colonel Goldstein, who survived him. He had no children.

Champion interested himself in social movements, was a foundation member of the Anti-Sweating League, and he organized the first appeal which resulted in the foundation of the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women and Children. He also founded the Australasian authors' agency and published a few books with literary merit.


* Geoffrey Serle, ' [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A070613b.htm Champion, Henry Hyde (1859 - 1928)] ', "Australian Dictionary of Biography", Volume 7, MUP, 1979, pp 603-605.

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