William Henry Ogilvie

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William Henry Ogilvie (21 August 1869 – 30 January 1963) was a Scottish-Australian narrative poet and horseman.


Ogilvie was born near Kelso, Borders, Scotland and arrived in Australia in 1889, returning to Scotland after a decade.[1] He had a deep love of horses and riding and he became interested in the outback. Before long he became an expert station hand, drover and horse breaker, working on such stations as Belalie on the Warrego, and Maaoupe near Penola in South Australia.[2] He was a friend of Harry "Breaker" Morant[3] and was described as a quiet-spoken Scot of medium height, with a fair moustache and red complexion.

He wrote lyrical and romantic poetry noted for its balladic style, with expressive descriptions of outback life and characters. Will, as he was known, also wrote a great deal of work on English and Scottish themes and his work has been included in collections of English and Scottish poetry. All of his work was originally published in and he is most closely associated with Australia.

His love of the outback, dogs and horses is well-reflected in his work (My Life in the Open, Kelpies, The Australian). A collection of Will Ogilvie's poetry was published in (Saddle for a Throne 1952 ISBN 0-9599299-4-0) and was "Dedicated to Comrades of Camp-fire and Muster"; the book contains a foreword by R. M. Williams, who met him in the late 1940s and who was instrumental in publishing the works.


A formal portrait of Ogilvie posing with his Miniature Fox Terrier hangs in the National Library of Australia in Canberra. A memorial committee was set up Scotland in 1991 to raise funds to promote the name of Ogilvie and his works.

A cairn to the poet was erected in 1993 between the villages of Ashkirk and Roberton in Scotland.,[4] there are also memorials to him in Australia. One such memorial is a National Trust roadside cairn adjacent to the old shearers quarters at the former Maaoupe station unveiled on 8 June 1995. It is here he was reported to have written his poem Fair Girls and Gray Horses.


Poetry Collections[edit]

  • Fair Girls and Gray Horses: with other verses (1898)
  • Hearts of Gold and Other Verses (1903)
  • Rainbows and Witches (1907)
  • Whaup o'the Rede (1909)
  • The Land We Love (1910)
  • The Overlander and Other Verses (1913)
  • Gray Horses (1914)
  • Fair Girls (1914)
  • The Australian and Other Verses (1916)
  • Galloping Shoes: verses (1922)
  • Scattered Scarlet (1923)
  • Over The Grass (1925)
  • Hunting Rhymes (1927)
  • A Handful of Leather (1928)
  • A Clean Wind Blowing : songs of the out-of-doors (1930)
  • The Collected Sporting Verse of Will H. Ogilvie (1932)
  • Saddles Again (1937)
  • From Sunset to Dawn (1946)
  • Saddle For a Throne (1952)
  • Breaker's Mate : Will Ogilvie in Australia (1996)

Short Story Collections[edit]

  • The Honour of the Station (1914)