Dorothea Mackellar

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Dorothea Mackellar

Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar (better known as Dorothea Mackellar), OBE (1 July 1885 – 14 January 1968) was an Australian poet and fiction writer.[1] Her poem My Country is perhaps the best known Australian poem, especially its second stanza, which begins: "I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plains,/Of ragged mountain ranges,/Of droughts and flooding rains." ...

Life and works[edit]

Dorothea Mackellar dressed as one of the Graces for Mrs T.H. Kelly's Italian Red Cross Day tableaux at the Palace Theatre, 20 June 1918

The only daughter of noted physician and parliamentarian Sir Charles Mackellar, she was born in Sydney in 1885. Although she was raised in a professional urban family, Mackellar's poetry is usually regarded as quintessential bush poetry, inspired by her experience on her brothers' farms near Gunnedah, in the north-west of New South Wales.

Her best-known poem is My Country, written at age 19[1] while homesick in England, and first published in the London Spectator in 1908 under the title Core of My Heart: the second stanza of this poem is among the best known in Australia. Four volumes of her collected verse were published: The Closed Door (published in 1911, contained the first appearance of My Country); The Witch Maid, and Other Verses (1914); Dreamharbour (1923); and Fancy Dress (1926).

In addition to writing poems, Mackellar also wrote novels, one by herself, Outlaw's Luck (1913), and at least two in collaboration with Ruth Bedford. These are The Little Blue Devil (1912) and Two's Company (1914). According to Dale Spender, little has been written or is yet known about the circumstances behind this collaboration.[2]

In the New Year's Day Honours of 1968, Dorothea Mackellar was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to Australian literature.[3] She died two weeks later. She is buried with her father and family in Waverley Cemetery overlooking the open ocean. Also her poem Colour, her own favourite, was read at the service.[4]

Legacy[edit]

A federal electorate covering half of Sydney's Northern Beaches is named in her honour as well as a street in the Canberra suburb of Cook. (The Canberra suburb of McKellar was not named after her, but is often assumed to have been.)

On Australia Day, 26 January 1983, a memorial to Dorothea Mackellar was unveiled and dedicated in ANZAC Park, Gunnedah.[5] The centrepiece of the memorial, a statue of Mackellar on horseback by Dennis Adams, was a temporary fibreglass version. The finished bronze version was installed in September 1983.[6]

In conjunction with the January unveiling, there was an exhibition of a series of 34 water colour paintings by Jean Isherwood illustrating the writer's most famous poem, My Country. The watercolours were eventually put on permanent display in the Gunnedah Bicentennial Regional Gallery. Isherwood set about painting a series of oils based on the watercolours which were exhibited at the Artarmon Galleries in Sydney in 1986.

In 1984, Gunnedah resident Mikie Maas created the "Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards", which has grown into a nationwide poetry competition for Australian school students.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mackellar, Isobel Marion Dorothea (1885–1968)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Spender, Dale (1988) Writing a New World: Two Centuries of Australian Women Writers, London: Pandora p. 219
  3. ^ "MACKELLAR, Isobel Marion Dorothea". It's an Honour. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  4. ^ Waverley Cemetery - A Walk Through History No. 1
  5. ^ Monument Australia. Retrieved 22 February 2014
  6. ^ dorothea mackellar poetry awards. Retrieved 22 February 2014

External links[edit]