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
© Rita Hayes
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