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Tales from the Moonstone Inn

Francis William Strapp was born on Tuesday 18th March 1873 in Lambeth, London. Francis was the eldest of four children, with three sisters born between 1877 and 1880, Florence, Jessie and Ruth. During this period, his parents George and Jane Strapp moved the family to Islington, where they lived above their corn chandler's shop. Tragically, Francis' mother Jane passed away suddenly in 1881 and George would marry his second wife, Sarah Ann Buttrick, some eight years later.

In adulthood, Francis would often go by the name of William and was fondly known as Willie in family circles. As was then the custom, he entered the family business and on Tuesday 19th April 1910, he married Maud Ellen Rafferty at St. Jude's Church, Islington.

Francis' life after this date is somewhat difficult to trace. He was not in England for the 1911 Census and at some point between this date and 1921 he emigrated overseas, leaving his wife Maud at home with her family. Despite the split, Francis and Maud never divorced.

Francis had settled into a hard life in New South Wales, Australia by 1915. He worked sporadically as a gardener, but was often out of work. In March 1922, he was attacked and robbed in Sydney. As a result, Francis collapsed in Vaucluse Park and it was several days before he was discovered. He was admitted to Sydney Hospital in a serious condition, suffering from famine and exhaustion. Francis' recovery was slow, but he kept his spirits up and signed himself 'William the Unconquered' when writing to family members back in England.

It was during his time in Australia that Francis wrote his novellas and short stories; only a small proportion of his works were published, always in the local press. The majority of the surviving handwritten manuscripts are credited to 'Francis W. Strapp' (although some are marked 'Frank Strapp' or even 'W. Bavin Strapp'), and it is under the more commonly used name that this compilation volume has been issued. Francis William Strapp died aged 64 in Lidcombe State Hospital, New South Wales, on Wednesday 13th October 1937. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Anglican 'pauper' section of Rookwood Cemetery, Rookwood, New South Wales. This area of the cemetery has been untended for some years and it is no longer possible to locate Francis' grave, plot number 4962.

Hopefully, The Tales of the Moonstone Inn book will serve as both his well earned epitaph and a valuable insight into the mysterious later years of his life.

Rita Hayes

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