Founded in the late 1890s by writer and publisher Randolph Bedford and the Lindsay and Dyson brothers, the Ishmael Club brought together a group of artists and writers who proudly saw themselves as outsiders. Naming themselves after the outcast son of Abraham, the Ishmael members gathered together at Fasoli's Italian Restaurant in Lonsdale Street Melbourne, to write and perform poems, songs, debates and plays, and to mock the establishment. They began each meeting with rituals around Joss, an idol created by Norman Lindsay and inspired by Richard Marsh’s popular supernatural novel "The Joss: a reversion" (1900).
Fasoli's Italian Restaurant 1898
Members of the Ishmael Club, c.1900
Left to right, back row to front row: Percy Lindsay, Will Dyson, Norman Lindsay, Lionel Lindsay, Ray Parkinson; Godfrey Elkington, John Elkington, Randolph Bedford, Edward Dyson; John Tremerne, 'Joss', Herman Kühr.