Detail map of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Overview map of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

A: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

George Howe Issues the First Book Printed in Australia

New South Wales General Standing Orders

From the copy in the State Library of New South Wales.

Very soon after arriving in Sydney, Australia in 1800, Anglo-Australian printer, editor, publisher and poet George Howe, became government printer. In 1802 he issued the first book printed in Australia, New South Wales General Standing Orders, which included Government and General Orders issued between 1791 and 1802.

Howe was born on the island of Saint Kitts in the West Indies, the son of Thomas Howe, government printer at Basseterre on St Christopher's Island.

"George and his brother were both apprenticed to the printing trade. His later work indicates that his education was thorough along the classical lines of the eighteenth century, and that he was well read in European literature. In 1790 Howe went to London and worked on The Times and other newspapers. He married and his son Robert was born in 1795. In March 1799, together with a companion, Thomas Jones, and under the name of 'George Happy alias Happy George', he was tried at the Warwick Assizes for shoplifting at Alcester; he was sentenced to death but this was commuted to transportation for life. Robert Howe later referred to Alexander McLeay as 'the benefactor of myself and my poor mother', and it was probably McLeay who enabled Howe's family to embark with him in the Royal Admiral. He arrived at Sydney in November 1800, but his wife died on the voyage. Howe himself recovered from a serious illness in 1801 and attributed his survival to D'Arcy Wentworth" (, accessed 02-07-2013).

Timeline Themes