Frank Sheldon Anthony was born in Matawhero on the 13th of December, 1891. Frank senior, was from England and never quite settled into New Zealand and received the occasional remittance from home. Annie Anthony, Frank’s mother, was born in New Zealand and worked as a governess and a school teacher. Frank had one older sister and two younger sisters. The Anthony family moved to South Taranaki and in 1902, the family bought a farm in Whakamara. Frank attended school there and then attended high school at Hawera until 1909. When he was 10 Frank spent most of his free time writing. His writing was encouraged by his mother and he filled numerous books about events, poems and stories — the main setting —his town and district.
Frank then felt compelled to explore the world and spent over a decade at sea. He worked at first, as a deckhand for coastal steamers, but subsequently worked on merchant vessels until 1914, when World War I was declared. Frank joined the Royal navy and was a gunner for the destroyer Opal. It was during his service there that he was seriously injured. The accident damaged his lungs and caused ongoing trouble with lung related diseases. He returned to New Zealand in 1918 and after a few months at Te Waikato Sanitorium, he returned to Taranaki.
With the help of the soldier’s rehabilitation grant, Frank purchased a dairy farm at Midhurst, close to the town of Stratford. This farm turned out to be swampy and difficult to develop in to working farmland. During the cold, dark winter nights, Frank rekindled his love of writing. He wrote his famous Me and Gus short stories during this time as well as Follow the Call and Windjammer Sailors. These stories gained modest fame by being published in the New Zealand Herald , Auckland Weekly News and the Christchurch Weekly Press and in 1924, Frank decided to sell the farm and move overseas to get his writing published and to convince Phyllis Symonds, now living in England, to marry him.
Unfortunately, neither of these endeavours proved fruitful and Frank spent the next two years in England alone and suffering from tuberculosis. Never seeing his work published. He died in a boarding house at Boscombe, near Bournemouth, on 13 January 1927.
But that is not the end of the story.
Frank’s mother collected his stories and got Follow the Call and Me and Gus published in 1936 and 1938 respectively. In 1950 Francis Jackson arranged radio adaptation of the stories which sparked interest in his work again. Gus Tomlins was finally published in 1977. Frank S. Anthony’s work is considered a humorous reflection of New Zealand farming in post-World War I era.
You can buy the Collector's Edition of Mark and Gus for only $8.95 U.S.