James, aka Julian Thomas but famous for his Vagabond byline, practised immersion journalism more than a century before the term was coined.
His fly-on-the-wall pieces inside Melbourne institutions such as lunatic asylums, hospitals and other institutions were the talk of Melbourne for their detailed descriptions, revelations and anonymity.
He began one piece on the Kew asylum like this: "The Angel of Death hovers continually over Kew, but he brings no terror with him. Death is relief to many of these poor lunatics."
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