Esmond Robert George was born in Kapunda, South Australia, on 20 April 1888 to parents John Henry George and Mary Kate George (née Burton). George was one of five children, with a brother and three sisters. After leaving school, George worked as a clerk in the Savings Bank of South Australia at the Kadina and Kapunda branches. In 1912, George left the bank and toured Western Australia, performing as an elocutionist. From about 1915, George was a member of the Adelaide Repertory Theatre, where he worked as an actor and stage director. George was also an accomplished artist, and produced a number of illustrations for story books. He performed as a baritone and humorist and also performed with a number of travelling musical companies. These included The Revellers in 1916.
George married Annie Robina Jones, a poster artist and author, at Adelaide on 25 August 1916. The couple had a daughter, Helen Hamilton George, in August 1918.
George enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Gawler, South Australia, during November 1917. He was attached to the Australian Medical Corps (AMC) General Reinforcements. George embarked on the troopship Gaika on 6 August 1918, arriving in England on 13 October 1918. In the same month, George was admitted to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford, England, with influenza. In late October, he was transferred to Hurdcott Camp, Fovant, near Salisbury.
During his period of convalescence, George participated in a concert held at No. 3 Command Depot, which at this time was located at Hurdcott Camp. George sang “The Trumpeter” and “Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes” and was a player in a Japanese fantasy, “Willow Pattern Plate”.
George was discharged from hospital in December 1918. He embarked for Australia on the troopship Leicestershire on 9 December 1918. He disembarked on 22 January 1919 and was discharged as medically unfit on 5 February 1919.
After his discharge George was employed by The Register, South Australia’s first newspaper, as an art critic.
George’s wife, Annie, died in Adelaide on 17 July 1920 from pleurisy. He married again in 1926 to Elisabeth Mildred Baker, a journalist with The Advertiser in Adelaide. Mildred George died in Adelaide during May 1953.
During the period from 1925 to 1933, George either acted in or produced a considerable number of plays. In March 1934, he went to London to undertake further art training, and spent 12 months at the Heatherly School of Art. On his return, he established the Esmond George Players in 1936. In September 1936, he was appointed director of the Perth Repertory Club, producing or stage managing several plays.
In November 1939, George enlisted in the Australian Army at Subiaco, Western Australia, and was attached to the Australian Depot Battalion with the rank of sergeant. George served in Palestine and Egypt. During his service, he continued to write articles for The Advertiser. George was discharged in November 1941 and returned to journalism. He continued to write articles for The Sunday Mail in Adelaide for a further 20 years. There were a number of exhibitions of his artwork during the period 1946 to 1951 in Melbourne and Adelaide. George often gave lectures in art at the National Art Gallery in Adelaide.
Esmond Robert George died in Adelaide in 1959 at the age of 71.