The themes Barcroft Henry Thomas Boake wrote about
Barcroft Henry Thomas Boake, surveyor, stockman, drover and poet, was born on 26 March 1866 at Waterview Bay, Balmain, New South Wales, eldest son of Barcroft Capel Boake (b. Dublin, 1838), professional photographer, and his wife Florence Eva, née Clarke (1846-1879). His parents had married on 7 March 1865; three of their nine children died in infancy. He was an active child, fond of sport, but showed early signs of depression, forerunner to that melancholia which was to oppress him for much of his life and ultimately to cause his death.
Young Barcroft’s childhood was spent in Sydney, and for two years in Noumea, where he spent time with a friend of the family. When living in North Sydney, which was then mainly bush, he had to ride his pony to Milson’s Point before going to school across the harbour. Later he was to be described "a good horseman, and a first class bushman" and it was said "he looked infinitely better on a horse than off."
His father, though an agnostic, profoundly distrusted state schools and had the boy educated at private institutions. From 8 to 9 he attended a school run by the Misses Cook at Milson's Point. He spent the next two years with Allen Hughan and his wife, friends of the family, in Noumea, where he picked up some French. On his return he had two terms at Sydney Grammar School and then five years at the private school of Edward Blackmore in Hunter Street.
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