The themes Francis Joseph Sherman wrote about
- steel arms
Francis Joseph Sherman (February 3, 1871 – June 15, 1926) was a Canadian poet.
He published a number of books of poetry during the last years of the nineteenth century, including Matins and In Memorabilia Mortis (a collection of sonnets in memory of William Morris). Sherman was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the son of Alice Maxwell Myrshall and Louis Walsh Sherman. He attended Fredericton Collegiate School, where he came under the influence of headmaster George R. Parkin, "an Oxonian with an enthusiasm for the poetry of Rossetti, Swinburne, and, notably, Morris," who had also taught Bliss Carman and Charles G.D. Roberts. For a short time, Carman was one of Sherman's teachers.
Sherman entered the University of New Brunswick in 1886, but had to drop out after a year for financial reasons. Louis Sherman abandoned his family, and Francis, as the eldest of the seven children, had to help support them. In 1887 he took a junior post in the Merchants' Bank of Halifax in Woodstock, New Brunswick, transferring back to Fredericton the next year.
Charles G.D. Roberts, who first met Sherman in 1895, described him as "very tall, lean, very dark, with heavy black eyebrows like his mother, and with the large wistful eyes of the poet rather than the banker." Sherman was writing poetry at that time, and with Roberts's encouragement published his first book the next year. Sherman was engaged to May Whelpey of Fredericton when they were both in their twenties. However, the marriage was called off after she was stricken with infantile paralysis.
By 1898 Sherman was the manager of the Merchants' Bank Fredericton branch, "the youngest man in Canada to hold such an office." He was transferred to the Montreal office in 1899, and in November of that year sent to Havana, Cuba, as the bank's first agent there. He "had established the bank's influence throughout Cuba and the Caribbean by 1901, when the Merchants' Bank changed its name to the Royal Bank of Canada."
Sherman last published work appeared at Christmastime, 1900, and he appears to have stopped writing poetry entirely in 1901. "Outside business hours, his chief hobby was reading, and collecting first editions. What little spare time remained he devoted to swimming and yachting. A love of the seas was in his veins. He sailed his own yacht, White Wings, in many races, and was Vice-Commodore of the Havana Yacht Club at the time of his return to Canada." Sherman stayed in Cuba until 1912, at which time he transferred back to Montreal.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Sherman left his bank position, enrolling with the Officers' Training Corps at McGill University, and then enlisting as a private for reinforcements of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 1915. In France, he became a captain and later was transferred to the Royal Canadian Pay Corps, where he reached the rank of major.
After the War Sherman returned to the Royal Bank, but had to resign in 1919 due to ill health caused by his military service. Sherman married Ruth Ann Sullivan of Philadelphia on June 16, 1921. They had two sons, Francis and Jerry. Francis Sherman died in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1926, and is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Fredericton.
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