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Australian Literature History

Australia is fertile ground for independent and unique writers. This has been the case throughout history.

Many talented writers hark from Australian cites and regional areas. Remembering the narrative art of Australian writers and their exploration of themes such as: the working class; Aboriginality; fairness; participation; democracy; feminism; the wilderness and harshness of the outback; migration and Australia’s place in the world helps us to create our unique identity. We stand upon the shoulders of those who came before. Mary River Press Services highlights writers who have pioneered the art in Australia, taking a deep dive into Australian literature history.

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that records may contain names and images of deceased people.


Doris Waraker (1894 – 1995)


Doris Waraker was born in Gayndah 19.3.1894, to Ernest and Jessie Waraker (nee Wilson). She had two older brothers. Her father was the Deputy Surveyor of Queensland. She went to Brisbane Grammar School that have honoured her with an annual poetry prize the Doris Waraker prize.

Waraker began to write while she was at school about sport – tennis, football and cricket teams. Her father died in 1916, so she went to work in a bank until the end of WWI. Waraker’s brothers both went to war and Norman Waraker died in Belgium, 1917. This event deeply influenced her poetry.

She contributed “articles, short stories and poetry to a wide range of publications, including The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Mail, Smith’s Weekly, Woman’s World, The Bulletin and The Australian Woman’s Mirror. She often relieved the editors of women’s pages, sometimes for months at a time. Waraker stated she even enjoyed writing the social pages, but the one assignment she avoided was interviewing celebrities. She wrote several plays and was the drama critic for The Brisbane Telegraph until 1935 and again in the 1950s. She also freelanced for a number of papers and sometimes at the theatre would be asked who she was that night: The Courier, The Telegraph, or The Daily Mail.” AustLit.

Waraker wrote 148 works and was a well-respected lyric poet. She particularly loved writing poetry.

She died in 1995 in Brisbane.

Her publications include:

Songs of Sun and Shadow D. L. Waraker, Melbourne: E. A. Vidler, 1928 selected work poetry

Four Short Plays D. L. Waraker, [1950-1999] (Manuscript version) selected work drama

Law and the Lady D. L. Waraker, 1939 drama humour

Brotherhood And Two Shall Meet D. L. Waraker, 1933 drama

Madam Will Wait D. L. Waraker, Brisbane: 4BK, 1934 radio play


Image Source: AustLit

Source: AustLit


Andrew Dunn (1880 – 1956) and Ariadne


Andrew Dunn (7.5.1880 – 31.1.1956) aka Lictor

Born in Toowoomba, Dunn was the eldest son of Andrew Dunn Senior and Katherine Dunn (nee McIntyre). He married 16th June 1909 and his wife Ivy Adeline Mary Lucas bore him six children in 11 years. Dunn Senior founded many regional newspapers. Dunn Junior went to Christian Brothers’ College and Maryborough Grammar School. He then took up “an apprenticeship in the composing room of The Maryborough Chronicle. He soon moved to the literary staff, before joining The Daily Mail in October 1903 as a reporter and writer of news commentaries.” (AustLit)

From 1905, he worked at The Morning Bulletin in Rockhampton and became the editor for 43 years. He used the pseudonym ‘Lictor’ and encouraged bush philosophers.

One was Ariadne. She was a prolific publisher though very little is known of her. Her publications include:

A Woman’s Prayer “In the shadowed church I kneel,”, Ariadne, 1930 poetry

— Appears in: The Australian Woman’s Mirror, 6 May vol. 6 no. 24 1930; (p. 14)

A Fairy Tale “It is washing-day to-morrow, and the clothes are all a-steep;”, Ariadne, 1931 poetry

— Appears in: The Australian Woman’s Mirror, 15 December 1931; (p. 7)

The Burden “I do not fear your vengeance,”, Ariadne, 1932 poetry

— Appears in: The Australian Woman’s Mirror, 9 February 1932; (p. 15)

The Road “The whole world cries for Happiness…”, Ariadne, 1932 poetry

— Appears in: The Australian Woman’s Mirror, 29 March 1932; (p. 15)

At Home “There’s a far-off land of faery”, Ariadne, 1932 poetry

— Appears in: The Australian Woman’s Mirror, 10 May 1932; (p. 15)

Her poetry had a rawness, and she rebelled against highbrow exclusion she found in many writing groups.

“No doubt the Book Club column is a fine thing, and contains a vast amount of valuable information, but there is an air of smugness about the literary tastes of some of its contributors. This struck more forcibly after reading some of the criticism which appeared recently of the Coonardoo novel. None objected, because it lagged a bit in the middle. Oh no! It was its ‘moral atmosphere’ that was in fault. That attitude is mere piffle. Then there are such authors as Bernard Shaw, Theodore Dreiser, Martha Ostenso, Richmal Crompton and our own Australian Henry Handel Richardson who, to my knowledge, have never been mentioned. Some refer to a certain novel as ‘sweet.’ Now, we don’t want sweetness in our literary fare. At least I don’t, and no doubt a great many others don’t either. A book to be worth reading should contain something with a bite in it, something that makes us ponder, and leaves us more intelligent than when we commenced it. A novel that is a mess of pansies and cream as the major portion of the books mentioned certainly are, is not worth even scanning. Anybody with me?”https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/69816476/6852938

” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”> (14/11/1929 p.11 The Capricornia)

When Dunn senior died, Dunn Junior succeeded him as Chairman of Directors of Rockhampton, Maryborough and Toowoomba newspaper companies and on the board of Queensland Country Press Ltd. In 1955, his son, Lex Seymour Dunn, took over.

Andrew Dunn Junior died in Maryborough.


Image Source: Ancestry.com

Source: AustLit and Buckridge


Mona Brand (1915 – 2007)

Mona Brand (22.10.1915 – 1.8.2007) a.k.a. Mona Alexis Fox Brand; Mona Alexis Fox

Brand was born to Alexander and Violet Brand (nee Nixon) in Sydney. She was the middle child of brothers John and Deryck. Her father was a lighthouse engineer who travelled between Brisbane and Darwin. Her mother attempted to induce an abortion and died when Brand was seven. Relatives in Rockhampton took her in and sent her to Rockhampton Girls’ Grammar School. She completed high school in Sydney.

During World War II, she worked as a copywriter for the Sun and was a government industrial welfare social worker and research officer. A journalist for the communist party, Len Fox, married her in 1955. She wrote an autobiography ‘Enough Blue Sky’ about her younger days and feeling exiled.

She was an Australian communist party member, a strong advocate for Aboriginal rights and translated for Radio Hanoi and the Voice of Vietnam. ASIO kept a file on her actions.

Brand wrote many plays that were internationally produced and worked in New Theatre in Sydney. New Theatre focussed on the development of Australian women playwrights in the mid-20th century and gave their point of view of war, isolation and internationalism. She wrote television scripts, poetry, songs, schoolbooks, and short novels. There is now a NSW State Library Award recognising outstanding women writers named after her.

She died in Sydney at the age of 91.

Some of her works include:
Here Under Heaven Mona Brand, [1947] (Manuscript version) drama— Appears in: Here Under Heaven: Three Plays 1969; Tremendous Worlds: Australian Women’s Drama 1890-1960 1999; (p. 143-208)

Strangers in the Land Mona Brand, [1950] (Manuscript version) drama—Appears in: Two Plays About Malaya 1954; (p. 9-55) Plays 1965; (p. [15]-[74])

50 New Years 1932-1982 Fifty New Years 1932-1982 Sydney New Theatre, Mona Brand, Newtown: Sydney New Theatre, 1982 criticism

Here Comes Kisch! Mona Brand, 1982 (Manuscript version) drama biography

Enough Blue Sky: The Autobiography of Mona Brand, an Unknown Well-Known Playwright Mona Brand, Potts Point: Tawny Pipit Press, 1995 autobiography


Image Source:
State Library of NSW

Source: AustLit

Anna Wickham (7.5.1883 – 30.4.1947) a.k.a Edith Alice Mary Harper (birth name), Edith Ann Hepburn, John Oland , Edith Harper.

Anna Wickham was the only child of spiritualist Alice Whelan and musician Geoffrey Harper. The family moved from England to Maryborough, Queensland. Wickham attended the convent school in Maryborough. She then went on to All Hallows Catholic School in Brisbane and won a scholarship to attend Sydney Girl’s High School. Wickham’s pen name was borrowed from Wickham Terrace, Brisbane. Wickham became a feminist activist, poet, singer, and social worker. After returning to London, she married, had four sons, and privately published her first book of poetry Songs of John Oland (1911), printed by the Women’s Printing Society.

Her husband became so enraged with her writing poetry he was able to have her certified insane and held at Brooke House asylum in Upper Clapton.

Despite his attempts to silence her, she kept writing. Walter de la Mare, Dylan Thomas and D.H. Lawrence admired her work. Lawrence became very close to her, and she analysed this in The Spirit of the Lawrence Women: A Posthumous Memoir.

She left her husband. Although she lost one of her sons in 1921, the other three survived the war.

Her poetry was neglected during her lifetime despite her having written over 1000 poems. She was a unique modernist poet, and some of her poetry (circa 1915) was particularly Australian. She is now considered a leading feminist poet.

Sadly
“The question of Wickham’s status as a poet and as a woman, and particularly as a woman poet,’ writes Pender, ‘dogged her all her life, although her powerful personality has been the subject of interest.” (AustLit)
She hung herself in 1947.
Some of her works include:
The Contemplative Quarry ‘Anna Wickham’, (1915)
Songs of John Oland, (1911)
The Man With a Hammer: Verses ‘Anna Wickham’ (1916)


Image Source:
Poetry Foundation

Source: AustLit


Mary Rattenbury (1878 –1937)

Mary Rose McIntyre was born to Teresa (nee Armstrong) and John McIntyre. She spent her childhood around the Burdekin, Johnstone, Herbert Rivers, Charters Towers and Mount Morgan. In 1888 she attended school for the first time and commenced writing poems. The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Capricornia Daily Record, and Women’s Budget all published her works. She appears to have had a conflicted relationship with her father, and at 16, she moved to work for a family in Rockhampton.

She married William Rattenbury in Queensland on 11 August 1896 at 18, had four children and then moved to Yeppoon. During this time, she became a JP, ran a shop and wrote. Her views were very progressive. Rattenbury was an activist and tried to improve conditions for workers’ wives and children. During World War One, her poems raised money for wounded soldiers. She opposed conscription and was opposed to daylight saving. In the 1920s she was published in America. Radio 4QG also broadcast her stories. Rattenbury was a pioneer conservationist and an activist for the protection of the Koala and became a member of the Fellowship of Australia Writers. She was highly recognised by other writers when alive but has not maintained the fame of her male counterparts.

At 59, she died in Brisbane, Queensland and is buried in Yeppoon, Rockhampton Region, Queensland.

Other works include:

  1. Pen Blossoms: Verse from the Garden of Years, Yeppoon: 1936 selected work poetry
  2. Beautiful Girls of Yeppoon: All aboard the “five-five” for Yeppoon, 1936 poetry
  3. Mount Morgan: Away back in the bygone years, 1922 poetry


Image Source: Ancestry.com;
Capricorn Coast Historical Society

Source: AustLit


Nancy Cato(1917 – 2000)

Nancy Cato (11.3.1917 – 3.7.2000) (a.k.a. Nancy Fotheringham Cato; Nancy Norman) Cato was born in Glen Osmond, South Australia, and wrote her first poem at the age of eight. She and her husband Eldred Norman lived in the Hope Valley, where Nancy wrote and raised three children, publishing her first fiction in 1943.

She was also a poet, freelance journalist, and art critic. She is remembered as a very active fighter for the protection of Australia’s flora and fauna from development. “She also fought for the rights of Australia’s indigenous people” (AustLit). ‘Jindyworoback Anthology’ published in 1951, was edited by her.

Noosa, Queensland, became her home in 1967. In 1974 she wrote a novel ‘Brown Sugar’ about the Queensland sugar industry and indentured South Pacific labourers, and in 1976 published ‘Queen Truganini’, the story of the last Aboriginal woman of Tasmania. She also wrote non-fiction, including The Noosa Story (1979).

In 1990 she was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Letters (University of Queensland) for her services to Australian literature. She founded the local euthanasia society. In older age, she suffered arthritis and mini-strokes and passed away in 2000.

Other works include All the Rivers Run (1978)
The Heart of the Continent (1989)
Marigold (1992)
Forefathers (1982)
Green Grows the Vine (1960)

Image source: National Library of Australia
Source:
AustLit


Maureen Watson (1931-2009)

Maureen Frances Watson (9.11.1931 – 4.1.2009)
Watson was born in Rockhampton “of Birri Gubba descent, Maureen was brought up in the Dawson Valley her mother’s Kungulu country.” Workers Bush Telegram in AustLit.

Growing up in Rockhampton, she was a respected sportswoman and dux of her school. She had five children to Harold Bayles, who she married at 21. They all moved to Brisbane where she commenced an arts degree. Watson was an original member of Radio Redfern and set up the Aboriginal People’s Gallery in 1981. She published poetry anthologies and children’s books.

Watson worked for Sisters Inside a support group for women in prison. In 1996 the Australian Red Ochre was awarded to her for her contribution to Aboriginal arts and in the same year she was also awarded the United Nations Global Leadership Prize for building cross-cultural understanding.

She was remembered as ‘Tireless educator and campaigner for the rights of her people, gifted and passionate performer on stage and film, poet, author and playwright, children’s author, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and recognised Murri elder in South-East Queensland.” Workers Bush Telegram in AustLit.

Works include:

Kickin’ Up the Dust Maureen Watson, 1998 drama, Indigenous story

Kaiyu’s Waiting: An Aboriginal Story Maureen Watson, David Verrall (illustrator), Richmond: Hodja Educational, 1984 picture book children’s

Black Reflections Maureen Watson, Wattle Park: Education Information Retrieval Service, 1982 selected work poetry short story

Stepping Out “I’m stepping out, don’t mess about.”, Maureen Watson, 1988 poetry

— Appears in: Inside Black Australia: An Anthology of Aboriginal Poetry 1988; (p. 47-48) Kasama, June vol. 10 no. 2 1996.

Female of the Species “Whoever said I can’t fly?”, Maureen Watson, 1988 poetry

— Appears in Inside Black Australia: An Anthology of Aboriginal Poetry 1988; (p. 48-49) The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse 1993; (p. 180) Kasama, March vol. 23 no. 1 2009.

Source: Workers Bush Telegram in AustLit

Image Source: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Courtesy SEARCH Foundation


Gwladys Yvonne McKeon (23.8.1897 – 15.8.1979)

A Scholarship Girl

Gwladys Yvonne McKeon aka Gwladys Yvonne James (23.8.1897 – 15.8.1979) was the youngest of seven siblings. She was born in Wales while her parents were visiting and on return to Maryborough attended Albert State School and Maryborough Girls Grammar School.

“She held a Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee scholarship (1910-12), won a Melville bursary (1913), became a prefect and was dux. Another scholarship took her to the University of Queensland (B.Sc., 1918; M.Sc., 1920). Studying biology under T. H. Johnston, Miss James was one of the university’s few female graduates and among the first trained parasitologists in the State.” (Australian Dictionary of Biography).

At the West Burleigh Tick Biology Station, she was scientist-in-charge followed by a stint in May 1920 as a microscopist for the Australian hookworm campaign. She married 12 June 1923 at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Maryborough and had to give up her work.

She farmed, raised five children and in retirement moved to Hervey Bay in the 1950s where she studied sea life, added to collections of specimens and wrote ‘Life on the Australian Seashore’ in 1966. McKeon was a proficient artist, and this book included her own ink and watercolour illustrations.  She died in Kedron Brisbane and was cremated.

Image source: Trove.
Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography


Annie E. Wells(1906 –1979)

Annie Elizabeth Bishop Wells (3.6.1906 – 14.2.1979) aka Annie Elizabeth Wells, Ann. E. Wells was born in West Ham to Isabella (nee Wright) and Herbert George Bishop. She was the eldest of eight children. She moved with her family to Queensland, arriving on 22 August 1910. She became a nursing sister in Mt Isa, where she met and married Edgar Almond Wells in Chermside, Brisbane, on 14 February 1939, and they had one child. She and Edgar trained in Sydney under anthropologist A. P. Elkin before commencing duties as missionaries. On 1 January 1950, she began working as a nursing sister at Milingimbi, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Wells operated the dispensary and shop and started writing children’s stories based on Aboriginal tales. In 1963 she published about their time at Milingimbi – Milingimbi: Ten Years in the Crocodile Islands of Arnhem Land (1963). They moved back to Coolangatta in 1961. They returned to the Northern Territory in 1962 and opened a new church with large Yirrkala panels.

Wells and her husband were opposed to the bauxite land grab that “squeezed the Yirrkala people into half a square mile” (Australian Dictionary of Biography). Wells typed petitions in Gupapuyngu with English translations, and these were attached to bark paintings. These were presented to the House of Representatives. Wells was posted back to Brisbane, Queensland, as the church was not happy with these actions. Wells continued to write and publish and in 1974 moved to Point Vernon, Hervey Bay, to retire, and she remained there until her death. She is buried in Mount Thompson Memorial Gardens and Crematorium.

Other works include:

Legends of Arnhem Land Ann E. Wells, series – author autobiography

Forests are Their Temples, Ann E. Wells, 1979 poetry

Tales from Arnhem Land Ann E. Wells, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1959 selected work children’s fiction children’s Indigenous story

Rain in Arnhem Land: Further Adventures of Three Aboriginal Children on the Far North Coast of Australia, and Some of the Stories of their People Ann E. Wells, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1961 selected work children’s fiction Indigenous story children’s

Skies of Arnhem Land Ann E. Wells, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1964 selected work children’s fiction children’s Indigenous story

This Their Dreaming: Legends of the Panels of Aboriginal Art in the Yirrkala Church Ann E. Wells, St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1971 selected work prose

The Dew-Wet Earth Ann E. Wells, Adelaide: Rigby, 1973 prose Indigenous story children’s

Stars in the Sky Ann E. Wells, Adelaide: Rigby, 1973 prose Indigenous story children’s

Daybreak Ann E. Wells, Adelaide: Rigby, 1973 prose Indigenous story children’s

Source: AustLit


Vernon Williams (1884 –1931)

Vernon Williams (29.5.1884 – 11.7.1931) aka Vernon Seymour Darvall Williams
Williams was born in Maryborough to John Veitch Williams and Florence Harriett Grace. He had a younger sister Muriel and a younger brother Mervyn. The family moved to Victoria, and Williams attended Caulfield Grammar School and the University of Melbourne. He married Elvie Ellen Lester in 1913. Williams became a high school teacher and later worked for the Lands and Survey Department as a draughtsman. In 1929 he moved to Canberra. He passed away in 1931.

Williams wrote for Australian publications and authored novels. Williams and his wife were active participants of the Australian Literature Society.

“Bernard Cronin describes Williams as a ‘sensitive, shy, lovable fellow’ who ‘took infinite pains with his writing.” (AustLit). He wanted to record early Australian history in all its detail and loved adventure and the rawness of early Australian life.

Works include:

The Mahogany Ship Vernon Williams, London Melbourne: Ward, Lock, 1920 novel adventure

The Straitsmen: A Romance Vernon Williams, Melbourne London: Cassell, 1929 selected work novel adventure

The Sea Wolf’s Hoard The Sea Wolves’ Hoard Vernon Williams, 1923 novel adventure

The King of the Sealers Vernon Williams, 1929 extract

 — Appears in: The Straitsmen: A Romance 1929; (p. 76-79, 82-83) Shadow and Shine: An Anthology of Gippsland Literature 1988; (p. 48-49)

With Open Arms Vernon Williams, 1923 review

 — Appears in: Corroboree: The Journal of the Australian Literature Society, December vol. 2 no. 1 1923; (p. 1-3)

Review of A Marked Soul Doris Manners-Sutton, 1923 novel.

The Spell of The Inland: A Romance of Central Australia John Armour, 1923 novel

Source: AustLit

Image Source: Library of Victoria


Una Rothwell(1914 – 2005)

Una Roseby

Una Rothwell (7.2.1914- 2005) aka Una Maud Roseby; Una M. Roseby. Rothwell was born in Maryborough Queensland to George and Ellen (nee Thompson) Roseby. She had an older sister and younger brother. After attending the Maryborough Girl’s Grammar School, she took a Queensland correspondence course. Rothwell grew up on a property called “Te Whare” in Wondai, South Burnett and was a great horse rider.

She attributed her successful stories to plots that came to her in her dreams. She contributed short stories to various Australian publications, had success in America with her writing, and wrote verse. Novels for adults and young adults were also written by Rothwell. Rothwell passed at the age of 91 and her plaque is in the Maryborough Cemetery.

Works include:
Death on the Run Una Rothwell, London: Robert Hale, 1965 novel crime detective
The Welcoming Land Una Rothwell, London: Mills and Boon, 1978 novel romance
The Secret of the Sandhills Una Rothwell, London: Mills and Boon, 1975 novel romance mystery
North to the Isa Una Rothwell, Adelaide: Rigby, 1971 novel young adult
A Long Way to Go Una Rothwell, London: Mills and Boon, 1977 novel romance mystery

Image source: Trove.
Source: AustLit and Trove

Bernard Hickey (22.3.1931 – 30.7.2007), aka Bernard Joseph Hickey was the youngest of four – Margaret Miller and Frank Hickey survived him. His parents, engine driver Mr. Pierse and Mrs. Alice Hickey lived in Fort Street, Maryborough. He went to Christian Brothers schools, but his time as Franciscan novitiate was cut short when he became sick. After graduating as a teacher, he taught at Meandu Creek State School close to Kingaroy. Hickey completed a Masters of Arts. Between 1956 and 1962, he taught in England and then taught English in Rome and obtained a doctorate in literature. Teaching at the University of Venice and Lecce followed.

David Foster was a writer-in-residence in Venice, and it is thought Bernard is the basis for the character Professor Perry in his novel Testostero.

Hickey wrote his dissertation on Patrick White. He was a tireless promoter of Australian Studies. His efforts resulted in the establishment of a pavilion at the Venice Biennale and a studio in Venice dedicated to Australian literature. He created the most extensive compilation of post-colonial literature in the Mediterranean by giving his private collection of literature to the University of Lecce. Australian Catholic University awarded him an honorary doctorate, and he is a Patron of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. He was also awarded the Order of Australia. He wrote 40 works and died at the age of 76 and is buried in Lecce.

Works include:

Lines of Implication: Australian Short Fiction from Lawson to Palmer Bernard Hickey, Venice: Cafoscarina, 1984 criticism

Commonwealth Literary Cultures: New Voices, New Approaches: Conference Papers, Lecce, 3-7 April 1990 Giovanna Capone (editor), Claudio Gorlier (editor), Bernard Hickey (editor), Lecce: Edizonia del Grifo, 1993 anthology criticism

Reconciliations Ágnes Tóth (editor), Bernard Hickey (editor), Richard Nile (editor), Perth: API Network, 2005 anthology criticism

Da Slessor a Dransfield: antologia della poesia Australiana moderna: mito societa’ individuo Bernard Hickey (editor), Giovanni Distefano (translator), Milan: Edizioni Accademia, 1977 anthology criticism

Statements Bernard Hickey: Venice: Cafoscarina, 1984 multi chapter work criticism


Image Source:The American Mag .com

Source: AustLit, Trove, Sydney Morning Herald


Frederick Vosper(1869 – 1901)

Frederick Vosper (23.3.1869-6.1.1901) aka F. C. B. Vosper; Frederick, Charles Burleigh Vosper. In 1869 Vosper migrated to Australia, arriving in Maryborough and after working as a timber miller, drover and miner he took a job on The Eidsvold Reporter and The Maryborough Chronicle. He was the mining correspondent.

Following this, he worked as sub-editor of The Northern Miner, before serving as editor of The Australian Republican from 1890. He was a politician and journalists and supported republicanism, separation and miner’s safety.

In 1892 he was sentenced to three month’s hard labour for instigating an uprising during a miners’ disagreement. He then moved to Sydney and Melbourne before settling in the Western Australian goldfields in 1893.

He died of appendicitis complications at the age of 35 years, five days after the 1901 Proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia, which he fervently supported.

Works included: The Coolgardie Miner [1910-1911], 1894 newspaper (23 issues)
The West Australian Sunday Times, 1897 newspaper (11 issues)
The Geraldton Express 1906 newspaper (7 issues)
The Australian Republican the Australian Republican and Journal of the Trade Unions in North Queensland, 1890 newspaper
The New Woman “She does not ‘languish in her bower’,” 1988 poetry

Image source: History of West Australia. A Narrative of her Past.
Source:
AustLit


Lala Fisher(1872 – 1929)

Lala Fisher 27.1.1872 – 27.2.1929 aka Mary Lucy Richardson; Mary Lucy Fisher; Mrs Francis George Fisher. Fisher was a poet, editor and writer. She was born in Rockhampton to Lucy Knox (mining entrepreneur William Knox’s daughter) and Port Curtis and Leichhardt Land Commissioner, John Richardson. Fisher was an active girl who played cricket and other games with her brothers. After attending Rockhampton’s Grammar School, she married her father’s assistant, Francis George.

In 1897 they moved to England where Fisher wrote ‘A Twilight Teaching’ (1898) and edited ‘By Creek and Gully’ (1899). When they returned to Australia, Fisher left her husband and lived in Charters Towers, Rockhampton and Brisbane. She wrote for Steele Rudd’s Magazine and the ‘The Eagle’, edited by Frank Hill. “In 1905 Fisher published ‘Queensland Gems’ in Steele Rudd’s Magazine, which was published as a book the following year” (AustLit). She bought the Theatre Magazine in 1909 and lived in the Blue Mountains. From 1920 to 1922 her estranged husband insisted that she was mentally ill. She sold the magazine in 1923 and her husband admitted her to Gladesville Mental Hospital where she died of a heart attack some six years later.

“Fisher’s life and writings suggest a vigorous and active young woman, independent and even unorthodox; then a wife and mother on whom responsibilities begin to weigh; and last a woman whose physical powers fail under incessant demands” (Australian Dictionary of Biography).

Other works include:
By Creek and Gully: Stories and Sketches Mostly of Bush Life, Told in Prose and Rhyme, by Australian Writers in England, 1899.
Earth Spiritual: Verses, 1918.
A Twilight Teaching and Other Poems, 1898.
Grass Flowering, 1915.
His Luck, 1899.

Image source: National Library of Australia
Source: AustLit & Australian Dictionary of Biography


Ethel Fielding(1899 – 1975)

Ethel Fielding (3.12.1899 -25.11.1975) aka Ethel Whitmee, E. Fielding, Biron Fielding. Ethel was born in Mount Morgan, Queensland to Caroline Hannaford and Henry Whitmee. In 1920 she was married to Harold Fielding and had daughter Rosemary Opala in 1923. Fielding lived in Bundaberg for ten years and then Cleveland. She had short stories published in the Bulletin and contributed to various literary magazines and newspapers.

Fielding passed away at the age of 75 in Brisbane, Queensland.

Publications include ‘Once upon a Dreamtime’ by Biron Fielding, 1965, ‘Adventures on Parrot Island’ by Biron Fielding, 1964, ‘Bill’, 1936, ‘On Account’, 1936, ‘Mrs Hansen Sits at Her Window’, 1937.

Image source: My Heritage
Source:
AustLit


Isabella Maunsell(1845 – 1913)

GMaunsell was born in Port Macquarie to William Cross and Margaret Jane (nee Macdonald) and had four siblings. She moved to Bundaberg, and Vero Maunsell married her on 2 December 1875. Maunsell was a prolific writer, with over fifty children’s stories published in the Queenslander. However, very little is known of her, and we could not find a picture of her. She appears to have been a schoolteacher at Walla Provisional School near Bundaberg, lived in Bundaberg until her husband died in 1906, and then moved to Toowoomba.

Works include:

The Worst Boy in the School Isabella Maunsell, 1883 children’s fiction — Appears in The Queenslander, 30 June 1883; (p. 12) The Brisbane Courier, 2 July 1883; (p. 3)

Left Behind Isabella Maunsell, 1886 children’s fiction — Appears in The Queenslander, 9 October 1886: (p. 572)

Idle Servants Isabella Maunsell, 1886 children’s fiction — Appears in The Queenslander, 13 November 1886: (p. 772)

The Witch’s Well Isabella Maunsell, 1886 children’s fiction — Appears in The Queenslander, 27 November 1886: (p. 852)

The Philosopher’s Spectacles Isabella Maunsell, 1887 children’s fiction — Appears in The Queenslander, 1 January 1887: (p. 13-14)

Image source: Trove
Source: AustLit


Nettie Palmer (1885 -1964)

Nettie Palmer (18.6.1885 -19.10.1964) aka Janet Gertrude Higgins. Palmer was born in Bendigo, Victoria. She studied a Bachelor of Arts and a diploma of education at the University of Melbourne, studied French and German in Europe, completed an MA in 1912. Vance Palmer married her in1914 in England. Soon after they returned to Australia and began a family.

Palmer was an accomplished literary journalist, and her work kept the family afloat when her husband was working on other projects. She wrote volumes of poetry as well as biographies, literary journalism and criticism, diary writing, editing and translating. Between1925-1935 she contributed to many magazines and papers and was a strong advocate of the advancement and promotion of Australian literature. She was living in Caloundra at this time. The Palmer’s published Joseph Furphy’s Such Is Life and controversy over their abridged version promoted the manuscript.

Palmer was a pioneer in critical study of modern Australian literature during the 1920s and Henry Handel Richardson (the pen name of Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson). Her work is very significant to producing a history of Australian literature. She has written over 500 significant works.

Image source: State Library of Queensland
Source: AustLit


Alice Guerin Crist (1876 – 1941) aka Betty Bluegum

Alice Guerin Crist (6.2.1876 – 13.6.1941) aka Betty Bluegum was a journalist and author. Born in Ireland, her father was a chapel master and her mother was Winifred, née Roughan. They migrated to Queensland when Alice was two. She was appointed a student teacher at Blackhall Range State School and West Haldon. After being dismissed she returned to the Darling Downs. Alice married Joseph Christ, who soon changed their name to Crist. After moving to a property in Rosenberg near Bundaberg they began a fuel supply business in 1913 in Toowoomba.

What is amazing about Alice is that her literary output was prolific despite working for their business and farm and looking after her five children. Her verses and short fiction were published widely thanks to the support of Dame Mary Gilmore. Journals such as The Bulletin, Steele Rudd’s Magazine, The Worker, and The Toowoomba Chronicle carried her work. She was a devout Catholic and wrote about the bush and immigrants homesickness.

Crist was a long-term member of the Toowoomba Ladies Literary Society and became vice-president. From 1927 she earnt income from the Catholic Advocate for her religious poems and short stories. A novel ‘Go It! Brothers!!’ (1928) about the contribution of Christian brothers to education was authored by Crist. She edited a children’s page under the name of Betty Bluegum.

The Commemoration Medal of the Coronation of George V was awarded to her in 1937.

In 1941 Crist died of Tuberculosis and was buried in Toowoomba cemetery. In September 1953 a wing of the Holy Spirit Hospital, Brisbane, was dedicated in her name. Published collections of verse include ‘When Rody Came to Ironbark and Other Verses (1927), ‘Eucharist Lilies and Other Verses’ (1929), After-Glow (1926) and ‘The Guests’ (1929).

Image source: State Library of Victoria
Source: AustLit and Australian Dictionary of Biography

Kathleen McArthur (1915 – 2000)

Kathleen McArthur (11.6.1915 – 28.8.2000) was born in Brisbane and died in Caloundra at the age of 85. Her father Daniel Evans was the co-founder of Evans Deakin engineering firm. Her mother Catherine was a member of the Durack pastoral family.

She was an environmentalist, botanical illustrator, biologist, playwright and mother of three. McArthur had an early life that was very comfortable. She rejected her privileged life, married military man Malcolm McArthur and moved to a home call Midyim in Caloundra.

She divorced, lost her parents and in 1950 began painting wildflowers. This culminated in the publication of Queensland Wildflowers in 1959. She went on to publish and retail wildflower prints. Kathleen along with poet Judith Wright founded the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland in 1962.  Brian Clouston, Jacaranda Press founder was also a member and published her botanical paintings along with the Wildlife Magazine.

McArthur was pivotal in ensuring the Cooloola National Park was included in the Register of the National Estate. She was chosen as the Sunshine Coast Daily’s ‘Sunshine Coast Citizen of the Century’ in 2002. Bread and Dripping Days is an autobiography of McArthur’s 1920s childhood. In 1947 she published a poetry book called Yellow Patch. Other publications include A living river – the Noosa and Pumicestone Passage: a living waterway.

Image source: Wild Flower Women
Source: AustLit


George Roberts (1865 – 1938)

George Illidge Roberts (20.4.1865 – 12.10.1938) aka Bible Student. Roberts was born in Burwood Cottage, Sussex Street, Maryborough, Queensland, to William Roberts and Harriet Illidge. Ada Beatrice Bubb married him on the 28th of August 1894, and they had seven children.

In 1863 his father bought the Maryborough Chronicle from Charles Hardie Buzacott and became the proprietor for sixteen years. Roberts joined the Maryborough Chronicle staff as an office boy in 1870 and worked his way up to editor and lead writer in 1891. In 1934 he resigned and retired.

He was admired for his contribution to the community and operated under the pen-name bible student when writing articles about religious topics. His ability to retain the details of events enabled him to write accurate articles on early life in the district. Astronomy was also a great interest of his. Roberts was a nationalist who was keen for an industrialised Australia. He was committed to building infrastructure such as railways and roads in Maryborough and encouraged Wide Bay Burnett development.

In his youth, rowing, billiards, and cricket captured his interest. Altogether he worked for forty-five years with The Chronicle. At the age of 73, he passed away at Maryborough Hospital. He is buried at the Maryborough Cemetery.

Image source: My Heritage
Source: Trove

Ernestine Hill (1899 – 1972) a.k.a. Mary Ernestine Hill and Earnestine Hemming

Ernestine Hill (21.1.1899 – 22.8.1972) a.k.a. Mary Ernestine Hill and Earnestine Hemmings. Educated in Brisbane, Hill became sub-editor of ‘Smiths Weekly’ in Sydney. In the 1930s she travelled across Australia and wrote for many publications including ‘Walkabout’. She was embroiled in controversy about gold mining and ghost writing for Daisy Bate’s book ‘The Passing of the Aborigines’.

Although she has many published non-fiction works, her only published novel ‘My Love Must Wait’ (1941) was based on the life of Mathew Flinders. From 1940 – 1944 she worked for A.B.C Weekly rising to the role of commissioner. After resigning she worked on many books with only ‘The Territory’ (1951) and some articles being published.

Despite getting a Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship in 1959 she died in poverty in Brisbane in 1972. Other publications include ‘The Great Australian Loneliness’ (1937), ‘Water into Gold:The Taming of the Mighty Murray River’ (1937), ‘Kabbarli: A Personal Memoir of Daisy Bates’ (1973).

Image source: Fryer Library, University of Queensland
Source: AustLit and Australian Dictionary of Biography

Wilhelmina Frances Rawson (1851 – 1933) aka Mina Rawson

Wilhelmina Frances Rawson (10.10.1851 – 19.7.1933) aka Mina Rawson was born in Sydney and was the only child of Elizabeth Harriett née Richardson and solicitor James Cahill. She lost her father at the age of 12 and became one of 16 children her mother and new partner cared for. She spent time on a bush property at Tamworth.

At the age of 21 she married Lancelot Bernard Rawson. Rawson and her partner lived on a cattle station in Mackay, Queensland, for some time. They became partners in Kircubbin sugar plantation, Maryborough. She was an autobiographer, memoirist, essayist and food writer.

In 1880, Rawson’s set up a fish station at Boonooroo and they became the first European settlers in this isolated beach location. She had the youngest of her four children while at Boonooroo.

The Queenslander published a serial written by Mina called ‘Making the Best’ and poetry including Coo-ee . When Kircubbin went bankrupt, Mina was the only one making money and this income was from her writing. She had fairy stories including ‘Our Four-Footed Heroes’ published in the Wide Bay News and collections such as Coo-ee (1891) edited by Harriet Patchett Martin.

Using the local wildlife and knowledge gained from the local kanakas she created recipes pioneer women could find ingredients for .
She was the first female cookbook author in Australia. In 1878 her recipes for early women settlers Queensland Cookery and Poultry Book was published in Maryborough. 

Other publications include The ‘Australian Enquiry Book of Household and General Information’ (1894) and ‘Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion’ (1895). Rawson was the social editor of the Rockhampton People’s Newspaper in 1901-02.

In the 1890s she was a pioneer of swimming lessons in Rockhampton, Townsville and Brisbane. After her husband died in 1899, she remarried Colonel Ravenhill in 1903.

She died in Sydney and was cremated.

Image source: State Library of Queensland
Source: AustLit and Australian Dictionary of Biography


Dalaipi (c. 1795-c.1863) aka Deliapee, Deliape, Dolaibi, Daleipy, Delaibi, and Dailpie.

Dalaipi (c. 1795-c.1863) aka Deliapee, Deliape, Dolaibi, Daleipy, Delaibi, and Dailpie. Dalaipi was a published writer, orator, headman, mediator and rainmaker. His language group is thought to be Turrbal, Yugara or Nalbo (Kabi Kabi) and he was born in the Pine Rivers area north of Brisbane. His brother was Wugon/Wagon, his wife’s name is unknown, and his son was Dal-ngang.

Dalaipi developed a long-time union with Andrew Petrie. He cared for Petrie’s son, Tom, from 1838 to 1842 and took him to the Bunya Festival when he was fourteen. Dalapai was part of many expeditions and was part of the 1862 Petrie – Pettigrew expedition, guiding the exploration of the Wide Bay, Maryborough and Fraser Island. In response to the frontier violence, he and Dalinkua describing themselves as ‘delegates for all blackfellows’ authored a series of accusations against Europeans between November 1858 to January 1859. They pointed out the unchristian behaviour of Christians, how they had taken their land and starved them and did not provide support for Aboriginal religious traditions. He claimed that the need for change was in their hands. Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences details this friendship with Dalaipi and his thoughts. He lived the latter years of his life on property he had given Tom Petrie, as Petrie offered him protections.

When visiting friends in Brisbane around 1963 he caught a cold and died. Our Lady of the Way School’s main hall located at Petrie, Brisbane is named after him.

Image source: Project Gutenberg
Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography

Mary Hannay Foott (1846 – 1918)

Mary Hannay Foott (26.9.1846 – 12.10.1918) was Queensland’s first professional woman journalist and worked on the Bundaberg Mail. At seven she came to Australia from Glasgow, Scotland. Whilst studying to become a teacher she wrote poems and society notes for many papers. Once qualified she worked in Melbourne.

After marrying Thomas Wade Foott, she lived in Bourke and Dundoo Station on the Paroo River, SW Queensland and had two sons – Cecil and Arthur. This station was the inspiration for her poem “Where the Pelican Builds its Nest”. The poem is about two young explorers who lost their lives. She moved to Toowoomba after her husband’s death and then started a small school at Rocklea, where she lived with her journalist son, Arthur. She began writing for The Queenslander and was the first full-time paid female editor.

Under the pseudonym of La Quenouille she wrote ‘The Housekeeper’ column. She managed the ‘Women’s Page’ of The Queenslander from 1886 -1896 and wrote for The Brisbane Courier Mail. In 1895 she undertook two major interviews with women writers for The Queenslander. The first was with the famous novelist Rosa Praed who wrote of Gladstone. The was second was with Melbourne journalist Florence Blair.

In 1897 she fell ill and had to return to Victoria. Arthur began at the Bundaberg Mail in 1912. Foott moved again to live with him in Bundaberg and they were very close, often sitting up to four am talking. She was a journalist for the Bundaberg Mail. Arthur died in 1917 and she contracted pneumonia a year later and died suddenly. She is buried in the Bundaberg cemetery and her obituary appeared in the Bundaberg Mail honouring her editorship and high position in the literary world.

Image source: Fryer Collection, University of Queensland
Source: AustLit and Queensland Parliament; Clarke, P (2014) Qld’s 1st Professional Woman Journalist: Mary Hannay Foott.

Rosa Praed (1851 -1935)

This is an image of Rose Praed.

Rosa Praed (1851 -1935) a novelist, generally known as Mrs. Campbell Praed, daughter of Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior. She was born at Bungroopin Station on the Logan River, Queensland, on 27 March 1851. In 1872, she married Arthur Campbell Mackworth Praed, and lived for a short time on Curtis Island, off Gladstone, Queensland.

The sojourn was turned to literary account in her first book, ‘An Australian Heroine’ (1880) as well as in ‘The Romance of a Station’ (1889) and her last novel ‘Sister Sorrow’ (1916). Her ability to make use of her experiences in the setting or action of her novels is a noticeable feature of her writing. Her private life was one of sadness.

She was early estranged from her husband, one son died in an automobile accident, another killed while big-game hunting in South Africa, and the third shot himself, her only daughter was a deaf mute.

She herself was an exile who yearned for her native country. She died at Torquay, England, 11 April 1935. (Information taken from: Australian Encyclopaedia v. 7, 1988).


Image and Information source: State Library of Queensland and AustLit.


Tony Matthews (1949- )

Tony Matthews(1949- ) (a.k.a. Anthony Alfred James Matthews)

Tony Matthews is a Queensland writer and historian. He is the author of thirty published books, the writer and director of thirteen television documentaries, and hundreds of historical programs broadcast by ABC Radio.  

After his arrival in Australia in 1972, Tony immediately launched himself into regional historical research. 

Tony’s writing career in Australia began with producing three highly-acclaimed historical documentaries that were broadcast on the Seven Network. Titled This Dawning Land comprising three separate episodes: 

  • A history of Maryborough, Queensland, 1842-1893.
  • A history of the Gympie Goldrush.
  • A history of Bundaberg, Queensland. 

Matthews then was a lecturer at the Hervey Bay campus of the University of Southern Queensland and a freelance writer. 

Tony Matthews wrote River of Dreams, the definitive history of Maryborough in Queensland — a task that took two years and resulted in a body of work encompassing two leather-bound volumes of 550,000 words. A similar history followed this for the entire South Burnett region of Queensland. Landscapes of Change, completed in 1997, is published as a two-volume set. Other Historical works include:

Blackguards and Scoundrels in Colonial Queensland: True Stories of Crime, Passion, and Punishment (2001), Footsteps Through Time: A History of Chinchilla Shire (2004), Gold, Graves, and Gallows: Crime and Calamities on the Colonial Goldfields (2002), Mayhem and Murder in Pioneering Queensland: True Stories of Real Crimes and Mysteries (2000), Shipwrecks and Seafarers’ Scandals: True Tales From Colonial Queensland and the South Pacific (2000) and True Blue Queenslanders: Heros, Heroines, and Battlers (2001).

Fictional Works include:
A Dawn with No Birdsong (2018)
Cry of the Stormbird (1990)
Letters, Deaths and Dialogue: A Novel of the Spanish Civil War (1998)
A Cleft of Diamonds (1996)


Source: AustLit


George Ettienne Loyau (1835-1898)

George Ettienne Loyau (15.4.1835-23.4 1898) was born in London and was the son of Catharine and George (née Chanson) Loyau. His mother was widowed when George was one. He schooled in England and became a clerk in his teens. When he was 18, he sailed to Australia and travelled undertaking jobs such as gold digger, shepherd, hut-keeper, shearer, overseer, stockman, cattle drover, cook, private tutor and press correspondent.

In 1861 he became editor of the Burnett Argus at Gayndah and then Maryborough Chronicle. He married Elizabethe Ann née Sharpe in 1862. From 1865 to 1876 he was in Sydney and married his second wife Paulina, née Lynch. He published poetry, was a parliamentary reporter, editor of the Gundagai Times and worked as a ticket writer and journalist in Melbourne and was editor of the Gawler Bunyip in 1878-79 and of the Illustrated Adelaide News in 1880-81. By 1895 he was back in Queensland where he wrote The History of Maryborough in 1897. He died from a cerebral haemorrhage at Bundaberg after living in poverty for much of his life.

He wrote poetry volumes -The Australian Seasons and Australian Wild Flowers (1871) and Colonial Lyrics (1872).

He wrote historical texts The Gawler Handbook (1880), Representative Men of South Australia and The Personal Adventures of George E. Loyau (1883), Notable South Australians (1885) and The History of Maryborough (1897).

He also edited The South Australian Annual: Australian tales by well-known writers (1877).

You can get access to The History of Maryborough online through the National Library of Australia.

Image source: State Library of South Australia
Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography


Hector Dinning (1887 – 1941)

Hector Dinning (1887 – 23.11.1941) was born in Maryborough Queensland. After serving at Gallipoli, in France and in the Middle East during World War I he wrote In the Fruitful Granite documenting the four years of his life before the war. He was an academic and worked as a free-lance journalist. On his 1914 AIF enlistment papers his occupation is ‘Teacher’.

After the war he moved to Stanthorpe, Queensland and became an orchardist. During the 1920s, Dinning held a position as a tutor at the University of Queensland. In the 1930s and 1940s Dinning was a journalist with the Telegraph in Brisbane. Publications included war literature Glimpses of Anzac (1916), Evaluation (1918), French Shops (1918) and the non-fiction Nile to Aleppo: With the Light Horse in the Middle East (1920).

Image source: National Library of Australia
Source: AustLit

Emily Hemans Bulcock (1877– 1969)

Emily Hemans Bulcock OBE (28.7. 1877– 4.9.1969) was an Australian poet and journalist for over 65 years. She was born in Tinana and was the daughter of Mary Jane and Henry Burnett Palmer. At the age of 12 her work had been accepted for publication in The Queenslander. At 19 she became a teacher at Montville and ran literacy courses for the farmworkers.

She married her husband in 1903 and moved to Brisbane with him. He died in 1924. She worked as a freelance journalist in the 1920s. Anzac Day was the subject of her first poem, and it was published in The Bulletin. During her literary career many of the poems she published were about the events of her time. A wide variety of publications carried her work in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

She was a foundation member of the CWA, The Queensland Authors’ and Artists’ Association and the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW). In 1964 she was awarded and OBE for services to literature and in 1965 made a lifetime member of FAW. She supported refugees from Nazi Germany.

Writer Vance Palmer is her younger brother. ‘Jacaranda Blooms and Other Poems’ and ‘From Quenchless Springs: New Poems’ are two of her anthologies.

Image source: State Library of Victoria
Source: AustLit


Maria Jane Scott, (1822 – 1899) aka Maria Jane Barney

Round Headed Oak, 1879 by M. Scott

Maria Jane Barney was born to Colonel George Barney and Portia Henrietta Barney (nee Peale). Her father led the settlement effort at Port Curtis. She had four siblings. In 1838 she married David Charles Frederick Scott.

She was a painter, lithographer, and novelist. Her first exhibition of watercolours was in 1854.

Scott’s published works include Pearl and Willie: A Tale (1873), Not so Ugly: A Novel (1870 – 79), A Brother or Lover? A Sister or Bride? (1870 – 79) and Lights and Shadows of Hazelglen (1870 – 79).

Image source: State Library of New South Wales
Source: AustLit


Clem Lack (1901-1972) aka Clement Llewelyn Lack and Historicus

Clem Lack (19.12.1901-20.3.1972) (aka Clement Llewelyn Lack and Historicus). Born to parents William Lack and Elizabeth Lack née Evans, Clem went to school in Bundaberg. In 1918 he completed a cadetship with the Gympie Times moving onto a be a reporter with the Courier Mail and Sunday Mail. In 1928 he was awarded a Diploma of Journalism from the University of Queensland. From 1935 to 1970 he lectured on a casual basis at the university.

In the 1940’s he worked for the Brisbane Telegraph, the Melbourne Age and the public relations bureau of the Chief Secretary’s Department. He was a significant contributor to the (Royal) Historical Society of Queensland holding positions from 1949 to 1968.

Historical Publications include ‘Triumph in the Tropics (1959). He edited ‘Queensland, Daughter of the Sun (1959). His first publication was a collection of poems ‘The Fields of Amaranth and other Poems’. His most famous work is ‘Three Decades of Queensland Political History ‘ (1962). A monograph ‘Wild White Men’ was published in 1959. Other works include ‘Wesley’s Footsteps: The Story of the Mother Church of Queensland Methodism’ (1949), ‘Queensland’ (1966), ‘Brisbane’ (1967), and ‘A Bookman’s Essays’ (1969). In retirement he edited the Queensland Country Party’s monthly magazine. He died in Brisbane and was cremated. Dianne Cilento Described him as a ‘romantic, indefatigable and lovable man’

Image source: State Library of Victoria
Source: AustLit and Australian Dictionary of Biography

Olga Miller (1920 – 2003) aka Wandi

Olga Miller (27.3.1920 – 8.2003) aka Wandi was born in Maryborough, Queensland. She was the youngest of seven siblings. Her mother was Ethel Marion Reeves and her father was Frederick Wondunna.  

Miller (Wandi – the wild duck) and her brother, Wilf Reeves (Mooni Jarl – teller of tales) were enthusiastic members of the Maryborough Writers Group in the 1960s. Their first published works were in the groups journal the Moonaboola Quill.  

Their father was an elder of the Butchulla people. This is where Miller and Reeves learned their stories and the art of illustrating them. Olga wrote for school textbooks, films and newspapers including a column in the Maryborough Chronicle. She did radio presentations and illustrated children’s stories. The Legends of Moonie Jarl written by these Butchulla siblings was originally published in 1964. It was the first Aboriginal authored children’s book to be published. A mural of the cover of this book, painted by Fiona Foley and Warraba Weatherall is outside the Maryborough Library in Bazaar Street.

Other published works include Fraser Island Legends (1993), Strings and Things from Long Ago (1999), The Legend of Mount Bauple (2000), Wook-Koo (2001) and Buallum and Other Stories (2002). Films include How the Water got to the Plains (2004).

Miller spent her early years on Fraser Island and lobbied to protect the Island.

Image source: State Library of Queensland
Source: AustLit and The Australian Women’s Register

Gus Anderson (1883 – 1970) aka Gustaf Adolph Ross Anderson

Gus Anderson (11.12.1883 – 6.4.1970) aka Gustaf Adolph Ross Anderson was born in Maryborough, Queensland. His Scottish mother, Mary Ann Anderson (nee Ross) and Swedish father, Gustaf Anderson migrated from Scotland. They had six children.

Anderson was and orchardist and lived around Howard and Childers.  He also worked in the coalmines. In 1908 he married Howard resident Elizabeth Agnes Hamilton. They had six children. He was known to be a gentle man. 

85 works are attributed to him. His daughter, Edith Mary Eardley and Anderson have verses in the published work Burrum River Ballads (1970). His granddaughter Betty Beath has put three of his poems to music.

Both Gus and his wife Elizabeth are buried in Maryborough Lawn Cemetery.

Image source: MyHeritage
Source: AustLit

Charles Hardie Buzacott (1835 – 1918)

Charles Hardie Buzacott (3.8.1835 – 19.7.1918) began the publication of the Maryborough Chronicle and took over publication of the Gladstone Observer. He was a renowned Queensland publisher, journalist, newspaper proprietor and politician.

His parents were James Buzacott and Ann, née Hitchcock. In 1852, Buzacott and his brother migrated from England to Sydney, where he learnt the compositor trade at The Empire. After moving to Maryborough he began the publication of The Maryborough Chronicle on the 21st November, 1860.

Four years later he sold it and started The Peak Downs Telegram. Buzacott sold that also and moved to Gladstone where he took over the Observer from 1869 to 1872. In 1871 he took over his brother’s interests in The Rockhampton Bulletin. Other interests included The Brisbane Courier, The Queenslander, The Daily Observer and The Northern Argus (later called The Daily Record).

Buzacott was a member of the Legislative Assembly as member for Rockhampton in 1873. In 1874 and 1876, he brought in bills for eight-hour workday in Queensland. Although a visionary, he only got them to committee stage. He resigned in 1877, returned in 1879 and was postmaster general in Sir Thomas McIIwraith’s first ministry.

In 1895 he wed Matilda Garrett. Their son Hardie was manager of radio 4GY in Gympie. Despite a severe handicap, Hardie was a brilliant amateur photographer and his images helped stop Cooloola sand mining but also led to his dismissal.

Up until his death in 1918 at Stanthorpe, he contributed to The Daily Record.

Image source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Source: AustLit

Robert Alexander Fairly (1853 –1899)

Robert Alexander Fairly (11.5.1853 – 28.10.1899) a.k.a R. A. Fairly or R.A.F. wrote about the worker in his poems. He was the eldest son of David Fairly – a brilliant surgeon and Agnes Wilson Fairly (née Harvey). After completing two years of arts study (1869 – 71) he emigrated to Australia.

He arrived in Melbourne in 1871, moved to Boulia and then Gladstone district to work in the mining industry. He made bricks at the Norton Gold Fields for the furnaces and chimneys. Robert married Elizabeth Jessie Cairncross in 1887 on the family property ‘Lily Vale’ near Calliope. They had five daughters.

‘Finis’ was his first published work in The Queenslander in 1888. Although his verse and short stories were published widely in the Bulletin, the Boomerang and the Queenslander, he did not publish a collection during his lifetime. In the 1970s his grand-daughter Dorothy Tutton had a small booklet published. ‘Boundary rider, Brick maker and Bard’ by Jan Koivunen is a book containing Australian poetry and short stories written by Fairly (RAF) including a short biography of his life.

Many anthologies contained his poetry. His love for his wife Jessie is touchingly recorded in the poem ‘To My Dear Wife’ written just a month before his death. Robert passed away on month day 1899, at age 46 from throat cancer. He was a master of the bush ballad and wrote humorous verse.

Image source: MyHeritage Family Trees
Source: AustLit

Ronald McKie (1909 – 1991) a.k.a Ronald Cecil Hamlyn McKie; R. C. H. McKie

Ronald McKie (11.12, 1909 – 8.5.1991) a.k.a Ronald Cecil Hamlyn McKie; R. C. H. McKie wrote 23 literary works. He was born in Toowoomba, went to Bundaberg State High School, Brisbane Grammar School and University of Queensland.

He was the second of three sons to Allan McKie, bank accountant, and his wife Nesta May, née Brown. The family spent most of the war years at Bundaberg, where Allan managed the local branch of the Bank of New South Wales. Ronald attended Bundaberg State High School for one year. McKie completed a cadetship with the Brisbane Daily Mail. He was then a journalist with the Sun News, the Age and the Sydney Telegraph.

During the war he was a correspondent after he served with the AIF for a short time (1942-1943). Between 1950 and 1980 he wrote many books on the war. He achieved success as a fiction writer with “The Mango Tree” (1974), a novel that drew on his Bundaberg boyhood. It won the 1974 Miles Franklin award. In 1977 it was made into a film. His second novel, The Crushing (1977) was also set in a Queensland sugar town. He died on 8 May 1991 at Canterbury, Victoria, six days after the death of his wife, and was cremated.

Image source: National Archives
Source: AustLit


Myra Emmeline Steer née Pickering (1888 – 1964)

Myra Emmeline Steer née Pickering (10.4.1888 – 10.3.1964) a.k.a the Gympie poetess, Uncle Gym and Debbie & Elizabeth was born in Tiaro, Queensland and was the daughter of Sergeant Johnathon and Martha Pickering (née Sivyer). She moved to Gympie with her husband Reverand John Howard Steer. They had six children. After working as a Governess and assistant clerk in the office of the Noosa Shire Council, she returned to Gympie in 1934.

She began writing under the several pseudonyms and was published in the Courier Mail, Telegraph and Gympie Times. Regular columns in the latter included Debbie’s Doings and the Children’s Corner under the name of Uncle Gym. ‘My Pin Up Man and Other Poems’ was published in 1945 and the subject of the poem, Winston Churchill, sent a letter to Myra thanking her.

She was a member of the Gympie and District Historical Society and oversaw compiling the official history of the city for its centenary in October 1967. A children’s novel she authored ‘Bandai’ was published posthumously by the Steer family in 1980. She died suddenly at the age of 75.

Image source: John Howard Steer public family tree ancestry.com
Source: AustLit


Jessica Anderson (1916 – 2010)a.k.a. Jessica Margaret Queale Anderson.

Source: AustLit
Image Source: National Library of Australia

Jessica Anderson (25.9.1916 – 9.7.2010) (a.k.a. Jessica Margaret Queale Anderson) was born in Gayndah, Queensland, in 1916. After leaving school at 16 she did some training in Brisbane Technical College Art School. She then moved to Sydney, New South Wales and began writing commercially mainly under evasive pseudonyms. She also began to write radio plays in her thirties. Three original radio dramas were written under her own name for the ABC during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Anderson’s first novel was published under her own name in England. She did this to avoid censorship in Australia. An ‘Ordinary Lunacy’ (1963) is a tale of sexual obsession. Her next three novels received little mainstream success. Her fourth and fifth novels ‘Tirra Lirra by the River’ and ‘The Impersonators’ (1980) won various awards including the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Anderson produced 36 works including eight critically acclaimed novels.

Her work appeared in university syllabi and she examined women’s identity in relation to family and place. Anderson is the mother of screen writer Laura Jones, who wrote a screenplay for ‘Tirra Lirra by the River’. Anderson died in July 2010, at the age of ninety-three. A plaque commemorating Anderson’s writing is included in the Sydney Writers’ Walk.

Image Source: National Library of Australia
Source: AustLit

Valentine Thomas Vallis Val Vallis (1916 – 2009)

This is an image of Valentine Thomas Vallis.

Valentine Thomas Vallis or Val Vallis ( 1.8.1916 – 14.1.2009) was born in Gladstone, Queensland. He worked as a counter clerk with Gladstone Town Council. His parents, mother Daisy and father, wharfie and fisherman Mick were the subject of many of his poems.

After serving with AIF from 1941 – 1947 he wrote ‘War Poems’ based on this time in New Guinea. The poem ‘The Ballad of Changi Chimes’ is about his detail to Changi to bring home ex-prisoners after the war. Many children discovered his poems in the secondary school readers ‘New Land, New Language’. These contained poems from the collections ‘Songs of the East Coast’ (A&R, 1947) and ‘Dark Wind Blowing’ (Jacaranda Press, 1961).

Val was remembered as a warm and charismatic lecturer who specialised in romantic poets (especially Yeats), aesthetics and Australian poetry. He wrote lyrically of his bustling harbour town and family: “In our town all men are brothers. No man has marked a little plot of ocean. As his domain and jealously enclosed it; Each fisherman rules a kingdom without end”.

He captured the life of Gladstone, the expanse of the world and the human experience in his lyrical yet unadorned stanzas. Vallis was also involved with opera and music. He was peers with Judith Wright and selected works for a collection of her unpublished poems. He lectured at University of Queensland and the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. A poetry award, The Queensland Arts Val Vallis Award for Unpublished Poetry is offered each year. He was honoured with a footpath plaque in Albert Street, Brisbane, on the Queensland Literary Trail in 1996.

Image Source: University of Queensland Fryer Library. Source: AustLit and Woodhouse, Val Vallis a memoir.


Percy Reginald Stephensen (1901 – 1965)

This is an image of Percy Reginald Stephensen.

Percy Reginald Stephensen (20.11.1901 – 28.5.1965) was an Australian writer, publisher and political activist. Stephensen was born in Maryborough, Queensland. His Russian-born swiss mother Marie Louise Aimée was the daughter of journalist and horticulturist Tardent . His father, Christian Julius Stephensen, had lived in Queensland ever since the arrival of his father from Denmark in the 1870s. He attended Maryborough Boys Grammar School and then University of Queensland where Norman Lindsay’s son, Jack, helped introduce him to radicals and intellectuals. The nickname Inky was earnt and originated from the popular wartime song Mademoiselle from Armentières . A life of publishing began when Stephensen and Jack Lindsay managed the Fanfrolico Press in Bloomsbury, London. They produced about 20 titles in 1927-29 including The Antichrist of Nietzsche.

The second publishing company Stephensen established was the Endeavour Press in Sydney with Norman Lindsay. They successfully produced over 12 titles by Banjo Paterson and Miles Franklin amongst others. His final publishing company was P.R. Stephensen & Co which produced another 12 books by Franklin, Henry Handel Richardson and Eleanor Dark .

Stephensen ghost wrote around seventy books for Frank Clune. ‘The Foundations of Culture’ in Australia, 1936 was a thought-provoking series he contributed to and published. It influenced the Jindyworabak poetry movement. He published Abo Call and helped to organise the Day of Mourning and Protest to mark the sesquicentenary on 26 January, 1938. One of the mysteries about Stephensen was the change from the left to publishing an overtly fascist paper ‘The Publicist’ in 1938. He is most remembered for being polemicist and a brilliant editor and publisher. His legacy is the improved quality of publications that Australia produced.

Image Source: State Library of New South Wales – http://ow.ly/HgeT50BcH3 Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography.



Agatha Magdalen Le Breton (1886 – 1970)

Agatha Magdalen Le Breton (29.6.1886 – 7.5.1970) (aka Miriam Agatha, Mickie Daley and Henry Somerville.) Le Breton was born and educated in Maryborough and then moved Townsville. Her great grandfather was Sir Thomas Le Breton, Governor of Jersey. Le Breton was the youngest of 12 children. She became a teacher and from 1906 taught in Catholic schools. She loved to teach the little ones and included their thoughts and sayings in her stories.

She sent her first story to the Messenger in 1902 while living in Maryborough and wrote more than 60 works over her lifetime. In 1914 a children’s novel, ‘Nellie Doran‘, was published.

In 1917 she worked in NSW public schools and retired in 1934 to pursue writing fulltime. She wrote and published many short stories for various Catholic publications including Messenger of the Sacred Heart, the Far East and Annals. Textbooks such as the reader ‘Billy and His Dog’ (1921) were also authored by Le Breton. She received the Cross of the Pope for writing. She loved to teach the little ones and included their thoughts and sayings in her stories.

Image Source: The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW: 1895 – 1942)
Source: AustLit;The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW: 1895 – 1942)

David Denholm (1924 – 1997)

David Denholm (8.4.1924 – 19.6.1997) (aka David Forrest). Denholm was born in Maryborough, Queensland. He was the eldest of four children. He received a scholarship to study at Brisbane Church of England Grammar School. His parents married in Maryborough in 1923 and had four children in ten years. His mother Louisa Emilia Denholm (nee Polzin) was widowed after his father Andrew Hamilton Denholm died in 1934 at the age of 36.

He was a teacher at Cattle Creek, Moran Group (via Kin Kin and Kingaroy) where he passed away suddenly. She could not afford to keep David at school, so he did not complete his senior certificate. He worked for the public service and in 1942 he started war service. After serving in the army – 59th Battalion- in New Guinea during World War II, he worked at the Commonwealth Bank in 1964. He attended University of Queensland and the Australian National University and was awarded a PH. D in history. He lectured at the University of New England Riverina College of Advanced Education.

Denholm wrote 23 works including The ‘Last Blue Sea’ (1959), ‘That Barambah Mob’ (1959) and the satire ‘The Hollow Woodheap’ (1962). His satire made him a voice for youth and irony. ‘The Last Blue Sea’ highlighted the hideous combat experience the Anzacs went through in New Guinea’s heat and rain and won the Mary Gilmore Prize. His book on Australian History ‘The Colonial Australians’ (1979), is one of the finest history books about Australia and was a best seller.

Zita Denholm published ‘Corresponding Voices: The Letters of Bill Scott and David Denholm’ (2000), which anthologised the many letters exchanged between Scott and Zita Denholm’s husband David. In retirement he worked on Riverina Archives and worked on arranging 12 000 maps.

Image Source: National Library of Australia
Source: AustLit, Nambour Chronicle and Charles Sturt University.

Vance (Edward Vivian) Palmer (1885 to 1959) aka Rann Daly.

Vance (Edward Vivian) Palmer (28.8.1885 to 15.7. 1959) (aka Rann Daly). Palmer was born in Bundaberg. He was the seventh child of Henry Burnet Palmer and Jessie née Carson. He left school at 16 and worked as a clerk.

A.G. Stephens (from Maryborough) influenced him, and he began to write for Steele Rudd’s magazine. He travelled abroad to gain writing experience and returned to work at Brisbane Grammar school for a year. In 1909 he moved to Melbourne and joined socialist activities. Following this he became a teacher and bookkeeper on Abbieglassie cattle-station, north-west Queensland, bettering his horsemanship.

He was associated with Katherine Mansfield, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Frank Harris, Herbert Read and Will Dyson. To make a living he wrote hack stories and novels for the Aussie and Catholic Advocate, under the nom de plume Rann Daly. In 1914 he married Janet (Nettie) Higgins, a brilliant scholar and linguist. They had two daughters. Higgins’ increased earnings enabled Vance to concentrate on serious writing. He wrote 828 works. The decade from 1925, which included five novels and two collections of stories, was a prolific period of writing. ‘The Passage’ and ‘Daybreak’ were novels from this period.

He died on the 15th July, in Melbourne, days before a special issue of Meanjin was published in his and Higgins’ honour. With Higgins he had, he claimed, kept ‘some sort of fire alive for over fifty years’.

Image Source: National Library of Australia
Source: AustLit and Queensland Parliament

Bill Scott (1923 – 2005) a.k.a William Neville Scott

This is an image of Bill Scott.

Bill Scott (4.10.1923 – 22.12.2005) a.k.a William Neville Scott, W.N. Scott was born in Bundaberg, Queensland. After attending Brisbane State High School, he enlisted in the navy and served four years in New Guinea. His love of north Queensland developed after the war when he went there to cut cane, prospect and drive steam trains. He also worked as a seaman.

He got a job at McLeod’s Bookshop and then in 1957 he joined Jacaranda Press to pack, sell and promote books. He is was a well-known member of the Australian folkloric community. After publishing his first poem in 1944 he became a prolific poet and writer of over fifty books, turning professional in 1974. His peers were Colin Thiele and Max Fatchen. They were known as portly (Fatchen), pathos (Scott) and tin legs (Thiele).

The publication ‘Letters of Bill Scott and David Denholm’ (2000) anthologised the many letters exchanged between the two authors. He won many awards: 2001 winner Australian Bush Laureate Awards – Judith Hosier Heritage Award,1992 – Order of Australia, Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his work as a folklorist-1964 winner Mary Gilmore Award – are just some. Penny Davies and Roger Ilott recorded albums of Bill Scott’s songs called the Opal Miner 1 and 2. “Hey Rain” is one of the most beautiful.

Source: AustLit


John Denis Fryer (Jack Fryer) (1895 – 1923)

Image Source: Fryer Collection, University of Queensland
Source: AustLit and Queensland Parliament
Source: Fryer Collection, University of Queensland.

John Denis Fryer (Jack Fryer) (11.9.1895 – 7.2.1923) was born in Springsure Hospital, Queensland. The family were Anglo-Irish Australians who settled in Springsure in the 1880s. Charles George Fryer was born in Ireland, 1854. Rosina Fryer (née Richards) was born in Rockhampton, 1865. They were wardsman and matron at the Springsure Hospital. Together they raised seven children.

Due to Jack’s gift with language he won a scholarship to the University of Queensland in 1915. In 1916 after volunteering for service with the Australian Imperial Force, he went to France and was gassed in 1917. He was treated and returned to fight for Amiens where he was wounded by a stick bomb. Although he tried to complete his studies towards a Classic Honours degree when he returned in 1920, he had contracted tuberculosis, and he could not sit his exams in 1922.

Soon after at the age of 27, he died. An enthusiasm for learning and literature led him to edit the student magazine Galmahra and become Vice-President of the Dramatic Society. He is buried in the Springsure Cemetery. The J.D Fryer Memorial Library of Australian Literature was established in 1927 in his honour. It was set up to collect works in Australian Literature and was started with a 10-pound donation from the Society. It moved from the English Department in the 1950s to the University of Queensland Library. The Queensland Museum organised an exhibition of the four Fryer brothers (William, Charles, Henry and Jack) at the Springsure Hospital Museum on Anzac Day (25 April) 2016. ‘Give My Love to Everybody: The Fryer Brothers of Springsure’ by Dr Melanie Piddocke was a commemoration of this family.

Image Source: Fryer Collection, University of Queensland
Source: AustLit and Queensland Parliament


Francis Kenna (1865 – 1932)

Francis Kenna (21.9.1865 – 23.6.1932) was born in Maryborough to Irish parents Joseph Kenna and Ellen Fleming. He went to Maryborough Boys Grammar School and on graduation studied to become a teacher and a telegraph operator with the Lands Department. He edited a variety of papers including the Queensland Worker and those from Bowen, Charters Towers, the Gold Coast and Bangalow. He was a prolific poet, and many were published in The Bulletin, The Boomerang and later as a weekly column in the Brisbane Courier under the name of Txon. Kenna founded the Queensland Authors and Artists Association and edited their magazine.

From 1902 to 1909 he served as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Bowen. Although he served for various parties – Labor (1902-1907), Kidstonites (1907-1908) and then as an Independent Opposition (1908-1909), he advocated for the blue collar workers. His concern for the working class was also shown in his poetry. An example is his parody of Clancy, of the Overflow- Banjo, of the Overflow. Sick of city folk romanticising the labour intensive and often isolating work of the country, he portrays the bush from a working person’s point of view:
‘I am tired of reading prattle of the sweetly lowing cattle. Stringing out across the open with the bushmen riding free; I am sick at heart of roving up and down the country droving and of alternating damper with the salt-junk and the tea.’

He married Edith Stamp in 1907 in Gympie and they had two sons. Kenna died in Brisbane and is buried in Lutwyche Cemetery.

Image Source: State Library of Queensland
Source: AustLit and Queensland Parliament


The Butchulla People are the Traditional Custodians/Owners of the Land, and their continued connection to the land on which we walk, work and live is acknowledged. Mary River Press Services acknowledges and pays respects to the Elders past, present and emerging.

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