Poems by Mary Gilmore
1865 - 1962
Australian socialist poet and journalist
Mary Jean Cameron Gilmore was born Mary Jean Cameron on 16 August 1865 at Cotta Walla near Goulburn, New South Wales. From the time she was one year old, Mary's family moved repeatedly. Her father worked as a carpenter, building homesteads on properties in Wagga, Coolamon, Junee, Temora and West Wyalong. For 10 years, this itinerant life meant Mary only received a sporadic formal education.
At age 14 in preparation to become a teacher, Mary worked as an assistant at her uncle's school in Yerong Creek. She completed her teaching exams in 1882 and began teaching at Wagga Wagga Public School until December 1885. She also taught at Illabo Public School and at Silverton Public School near the mining town of Broken Hill. It was here that Mary formed her socialist views, expressing them in her poetry.
Mary Gilmore's image appears on the back of the Australian $10 note. It was issued 1 Nov 1993 and has a portrait of Banjo Paterson on the front. Her poem No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest is included on the $10 note along with an illustration inspired by the poem.
In 1973 she was honoured by Australia Post with her likeness on a postage stamp.
In 1890 she moved to Sydney and became part of the "Bulletin school" of radical writers. Mary formed a close friendship with Henry Lawson and was influenced by him as well as other writers of the day who championed workers and the oppressed.
Australian Workers Union
Dame Mary Gilmore
Call for Australian Patriotism
From 1952 Mary Gilmore wrote a regular column, the Arrow, for the Communist newspaper Tribune. However, she never belonged to the Communist Party. The column appeared regularly until mid-1962. In it she continued her campaign for human rights. She also contributed articles and poems to the Sydney Morning Herald.
First State Funeral