The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

Birthday

Today is the birthday of the delightfully wonderful author Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, and my absolute favourite story The Tailor of Gloucester.

Beatrix Potter was born Helen Beatrix Potter in 1866 to a wealthy Unitarian family. Potter didn’t have a lot of friends outside her family and she spent a lot of time with her parents and brother. Her education was done by a private governess until she was eighteen but she was taught multiple broad subjects such as languages, science, history, and literature.

Potter wrote twenty three books, each celebrating mature and country life and brought to life lasting characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, Tom Kitten, and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and other wonderful characters each with a wonderful story of their own.

Not only is Potter a wonderfully storyteller, but all of her stories are told with beautiful illustrations she did herself. Her mother and father were artistic and she and her brother Walter Bertrum would often draw the various small animals they kept as pets. As a child she was given private art lessons and loved painting the natural world. I remember learning too that Potter was also very interested in biology and anatomy, and liked to see how things worked, which aided in her realistic drawings of animals.

Potter did not start as an author, but rather as an artist. Her paintings and drawings were not only of animals and nature but also insects, fossils, archaeological artefacts, and fungi. These make her recognisable by the scientific community, especially her mycological illustrations and research into the reproduction of fungus spores. It was from this success that Peter Rabbit was written and illustrated, first published privately in 1901 and a year later as a small, three-colour illustrated book through Frederick Warner and Co.

Potter wanted her books to be printed small, as she took into account the small child’s hands that would be reading her work. This is why those great mini Potter books exist, but are a little but rarer these days which is a shame. There is so much more to learn about Beatrix Potter, she was a fascinating woman who came from an interesting family, and her life is one that showed off not just her talents but her love of the natural world. She was a sheep herder and farmer, buying up numerous farms to preserve the land, and leaving most of her property to the National Trust upon her death.

Potter continued to write and design merchandise for her publishers until poor eyesight contributed to her stopping. She died in 1943 aged 77 from pneumonia and heart disease but her stories have lived on. There have been multiple adaptations and merchandise that keep her characters alive and will continue to do so for many years to come.

 

Published: September 16th 1992
Goodreads badgePublisher: Frederick Warne & Co.
Pages: 58
Format: Book
Genre: Children
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Beatrix Potter has a wonderful place in my heart. I not only adored the tiny little books I read as a kid, but I had The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends videos and I loved them to bits. I know everyone knows of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but I am going to review one of my all time favourite Beatrix Potter stories, The Tailor of Gloucester.

The Tailor of Gloucester is the third book Potter wrote, and was published in 1903. It tells the story of a tailor who must make a coat for the mayor’s wedding on Christmas Day. With barely a penny to his name he works with marvellous silks to create the finest coat for the occasion, all the while being watched by mice that live between the walls. The tailor frets over his work as he realises that he has no more twist of cherry-coloured silk. After sending his cat Simpkin out to retrieve some, who seems to return without it, the tailor goes home struck with a fever, unable to keep working.

As usual in Potter’s wonderful style, there are clever animals that are highly personified while still looking realistic. With the tailor being the key character there is still a lot of character given to Simpkin and the mice. Though interestingly the mice speak, but the cat does not. A curiosity I never really noticed before now. This does not mean that Simpkin does not get proper characterisation; he is a little selfish, a little bit sweet, and even a little bit filled with revenge, something that manages to add a lot of drama to this tiny tale.

In a way there are many similarities between this story and the Grimm Brothers’ The Elves and the Shoemaker, but I prefer this story. What makes this better is the tailor, he is such a great character, you care for him, and fear for him, and worry relentlessly about him and want him to be ok. You also chide Simpkin and love Simpkin and adore the scurrying mice that run from house to house. Also, I discovered something else wonderful whilst writing this review, this story is based on real events, though the mice were humans, but the sentiment remains!

I’m not saying that as I thought about this gorgeous book I started to tear up but I totally did and I think it is one of the most wonderful stories of Potter’s, it was certainly her favourite, and it is one that should be remembered by people more often; away from Peter Rabbit and yes, as much as I adore Jemima Puddleduck even away from her sometimes.

The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends did a wonderful adaptation of this book, like all the episodes it is quite faithful, and creative, and allows Potter’s characters to come to life. If you would like to watch The Tailor of Gloucester episode and have your heart moved and broken and warmed, you can watch it here. You can also read the story here.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

Birthday

Today marks the 106th birthday of author Ian Fleming, best known for his novels turned movies about 007 spy James Bond. However, writing novels is not how Fleming started out. Born in 1908, Fleming was the second of four bothers to parents Valentine and Eve. Valentine was a Member of Parliment for Henley in London and they lived in the wealthy district of Mayfair. Just before Fleming’s ninth birthday his father was killed in the First World War, and family friend and fellow officer, Winston Churchill wrote the obituary.

Fleming had a range of jobs, he attempted a career in the army, failing his officer’s exam and his attempt to get into the Foreign Office, he instead joined the Reuters news agency. It was here he learnt the basics of journalism and relished in reporting on the espionage trial in Russia. He left this position and worked in a bank in London before moving onto a stockbroker company. He soon changed jobs again and became, unexpectedly, the personal assistant to the Director of the Naval Intelligence, a job that transformed his life.

The first Bond novel, Casino Royal, was written in 1953, with one being released every year afterwards until 1966. Fleming had a major impact on British culture and there is a lot written about him. I could spent forever discussing all the things he did, especially about James Bond, so instead I suggest you check out the superb official website. Here you will find video, details information about Fleming’s life, his creation of the Bond novels, as well as his literary career, family, and even trivia.

Fleming is the kind of author I know of, but know little about aside from what he wrote. I have not read any of the James Bond novels, and I do not feel qualified to discuss them but there has been so much written about them it is worth looking up to find about the themes, ideas, and style through Flemings many books. I have however, read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I’m not sure how many people know that the creator of the suave spy James Bond is also the creator of the magical flying car that was turned into a wonderful movie with Dick Van Dyke but this little story is one that continues to delight. Three additions to the series were added by Frank Cottrell Boyce that carries on the magical adventures of the car, each having a new adventure and going new places..

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a story created for Fleming’s son Caspar. In 1962 when Dr. No was being turned into a film, Fleming suffered a heart attack and was under orders not to work, instead he hand wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the story of adventures with a family and their magical car.

 

Exciting Bits and Pieces

Website
More about Ian Fleming
James Bond
Fun Facts

Published: 22 October 19643349b-goodreads-button
Publisher: 
Puffin
Pages: 
113
Format: 
Book
Genre: 
Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   – 4 Stars

“Crackpot” is what everybody calls the Pott family. So when they go to buy a new car and come back with a wreck, nobody is surprised. Except for the Potts themselves. First, the car has a name. And she tells them what it is. Then they find out that she can fly. And swim…Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a car on a mission to stop a criminal gang in its tracks — and she is taking the Potts with her!

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang follows the story of a car and the Pott family. Comander Caractacus Pott is an inventor, husband to Mimsie Pott and father to two twin children Jeremy and Jemima. After selling his whistle-like sweets to a sweets factory owned by Lord Skrumshus, Commander Pott buys and renovates an old car. At first the car is just big, impressive and powerful, but the Pott family soon learn that the car is alive, and just a little bit magical.

This was something I enjoyed because unlike the movie version it is made clear that Chitty herself is alive, not that Pott made her special. Chitty initiates all her magical elements such as flying, and floating through various scenarios in the book, not all extraordinary circumstances either. She indicates to Pott which buttons need pushing and what levers need pulling and marvellous things happen.

After a mishap at a family outing the Pott family end up in France where their adventures really kick off. I can’t say many of my family outings included dynamite and blowing up criminal hideouts, but then again what the British did in their free time is not my concern.

Some parts of the plot are actually really interesting and well written. Being a true Fleming story there are marvellous cars and technology, danger, gangsters, and thrilling plots galore. It is definitely an intriguing read and one that you can tell has come from the mind of the great James Bond creator. There is a great story here if you accept some of its peculiarities and absurdness. I understand this is supposed to be a children’s book of magic and adventure but you can’t ignore that some parts are slightly silly. The fact that the Pott family thought they could just blow up a part of the French cliffs and nobody will make a fuss, “Probably even give us medals” I recall Mr Pott saying, made me smile. Nothing like a good old British stab at the French. And the proximity of small children to dynamite was an interesting turn, but being the 60s and from the mind of Fleming it just adds to the excitement.

Having grown up on the film I enjoyed seeing the Pott family as a whole unit, and Commander Potts as quirky but competent. The key here, as with most children’s books, or any books really, is don’t expect them to be exactly like the film. Characters are added, removed, all in the name of storytelling. Unlike in the film, there is a Mrs Pott in the book, which immediately rules out the chance of a romance occurring for dear Mr Pott with the Skrumshus daughter (who is also absent). They always seem to break up the families, either for pity or for love interest when these movies are made, the same thing happened with Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory if I recall.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a relatively short book, definitely an easy read, and one that has and will continue to delight. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series by Frank Cottrell Boyce, and I am not entirely sure I want to. I am quite happy to enjoy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a standalone book, but who knows, one day I may stumble across the others and give them a go. As I say, don’t come looking to this book thinking it is like the movie, aside from some vague similarities in the beginning the rest is not the same at all and in its own right it is just as good.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

Birthday

10500516_792284587518837_642003267089225361_nA very happy birthday to the delightful Dr Seuss today. Today is Seuss’ 110th birthday, and at the time of this posting I am very disappointed there is still no sign of a Google Doodle commemorating this. The man who is most commonly known as Dr Seuss was actually born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904 and was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist. Son to Theodor Robert and Henrietta (Seuss) Geisel, he was also the grandson of German immigrants. Geisel lived in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his father ran a brewery and it was a street in this town that Geisel used as an inspiration for his first book as Dr Seuss, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel is mainly known for his children’s books written under his pen name Dr Seuss, though this was not the only pen name he used, in college he had written under Dr. Theophrastus Seuss and later used Theo LeSieg as well as Rosetta Stone. Through his life Geisel published a total of 46 children’s books, his most celebrated being The Cat and the Hat, as well as Horton Hears A Who!, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Lorax, as well as One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish plus many others. Seuss’ works are known for their imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of anapestic metre. His works have been adapted into many forms, including 11 television specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical, and four television series. As a cartoonist and illustrator, Geisel published works in advertising campaigns, and also worked as a political cartoonist in New York. In World War ll he put his skills to work in the animation department of the United States Army, and later won an Academy Award in 1947 for his film, Design for Death. It is hard to think of Geisel as anyone other than Dr Seuss, he has flooded out culture in so many ways as Seuss it is hard to see him as anyone else. He was an interesting guy though, and he contributed a lot more than just his work as Dr Seuss, but there is not doubt the impact those books have had on children as well as society as a whole. The term Grinch has become infiltrated into our culture, and many of his books and characters are as loved today as they were when they were first released. You can read more about Geisel here, and if you’re feeling particularly jovial and adventurous, check out Seussville.

 

Published: August 12, 1960 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House
Pages: 62
Format: Book
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When people think of Dr Seuss I think the one book that immediately comes to mind is The Cat in the Hat. I was never a huge fan of The Cat in the Hat, I liked many of his others though, I did always like Green Eggs and Ham. I like Green Eggs and Ham because it is not only a great book and very clever, but also because it has one of the best stories behind its creation, one of those great trivia stories about the origin of songs and books and all those things. The story of Green Eggs and Ham involved Seuss and his publisher Bennet Cerf, who after receiving a book of Suess’ of 225 words, made a bet he could not complete one containing only 50. The result is Green Eggs and Ham and it goes to show that you do not need a lot of words to make a story. It is a great idea; there is also an excellent Hank Green song that is similar where he sings a minute and a half song using only the same ten words. It isn’t the same as a story I grant you, but it very cool all the same. Green Eggs and Ham is a conversation between the unnamed narrator and a man known only as Sam-I-Am. Sam-I-Am continually pesters the narrator to sample the dish known as green eggs and ham, following him to various locations and asking him once more. It is a very simplistic story, but one that offers a range of great catchphrases and a joy in the fact the premise is so simple and jovial. The best part was that this simple story, containing only fifty different words, managed to get on the Banned Book list in People’s Republic of China. Much like The Lorax that people thought it was against loggers of some such nonsense, in 1965 Green Eggs and Ham was deemed to be considered a “portrayal of early Marxism”. This banning lasted until 1991 where it was lifted after the death of Seuss. Another fun fact, apparently in September 2013 it was read aloud in the US Senate as part of a Texas Senator’s 21 hour long speech advocating defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). I won’t ruin the ending for you, and as engaging as the story is there isn’t a lot of character development though. We don’t get the typical back story about who Sam-I-Am is nor our mysterious narrator, but there is a suspense about the book which only adds to the enjoyment. It is a wonderful book, and I think everyone should read it, and other Seuss books, find their own favourites and read them regardless of who you are.

I wish Theodor Geisel a very happy birthday, and I hope Dr Seuss, no matter where you are whether here or Katroo, that the Birthday Bird throws an amazing party for you.

Oh, also, for those who are not sure how to pronounce Seuss, here is a rhyme to help.

“I’m sad to report, I’m sorry to say That Seuss is not pronounced at all in that way.
You choose to rhyme Seuss with goose juice and and moose juice
But that is not a pronunciation Seuss himself would choose
If he was here today and still had a voice
You would clearly hear him say “My name is Dr SOICE!”

And finally, just a quick note to say, do you know how weird it is to keep writing “I like Green Eggs and Ham” when that goes against everything you have heard!? It messes with you a small bit, it really does.

Poems of Banjo Paterson

Ok, we have to post some poems because they are truly great reads. You can’t just talk about the man behind the poems. There is something wonderful about hearing these poems being read aloud but they are also wonderful to read yourself as well. There is a great sense of adventure and suspense and daring in these poem and there is a reason they are Australian classics that are loved across the board, especially The Man from Snowy River. You should also listen to the darling Slim Dusty singing Waltzing Matilda because if anyone is going to sing it it should be Dusty, but you can read the poem here which is slightly different.

Clancy of the Overflow (published in The Bulletin 21 December 1889)

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just “on spec”, addressed as follows: “Clancy, of The Overflow”.

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written in a thumbnail dipped in tar)
‘Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
“Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.”
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving “down the Cooper” where the western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.
And I somehow fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal –
But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of “The Overflow”.

The Man from Snowy River (published 26 April 1890)

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long a tiring gallop – lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump –
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”

So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill,
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

Happy Birthday Banjo Paterson!


Birthday
Today is the 150th birthday of the Australian poet Banjo Paterson and who would I be if I didn’t acknowledge some of the great poetry he wrote and the impact he’s had on our culture.

banjo150

Google Doodle

Banjo Paterson was born Andrew Barton Paterson in 1864 and lived at the property “Narrambla” which is out near Orange, NSW. He moved around a lot later on but when he married his wife Alice Emily Walker, they lived at Woollahra, NSW with his two children. Paterson’s parents were Scottish immigrant Andrew Bogle Paterson and Australian Rose Isabella Barton. Also, fun fact, Paterson’s mother was related to the future first prime minister of Australia, Edmund Barton. So that’s cool.

Through his life Paterson was a poet, a lawyer, a journalist, a soldier, a jockey, as well as a farmer, but his poems are what he is mainly remembered for. I think there are a few of Paterson’s poems that we all know because they have infiltrated society and culture more than others. I’m fairly sure we all know about The Man from Snowy River, or at least have heard it being referenced. Written in 1890 The Man from Snowy River was first published in The Bulletin on 26 April and has since been made into a successful movie and a TV show. The poem tells the story of a pursuit to recapture the colt of a prizewinning racehorse that has run off into the mountain ranges and is living with brumbies. The poem recounts the attempt to recapture the colt and the bravery of the hero Clancy who risks the terrible decent of the impassable slope to chase after the horses. This was not Paterson’s first poem, however, Clancy of the Overflow was a shorter poem published the previous year, but some characters reappear in The Man from Snowy River.

I vaguely recall seeing The Man from Snowy River film with my sister when I was young but it was never a favourite of mine, and I can’t say I knew of any others of his poems that well. You get taught about Banjo Patterson in primary school and you learn about of a few poems, but there are some that stay with you and some don’t. Though a few years ago now, back in 2000, the Royal Easter Show did an excellent Man from Snowy River Spectacular which broadened my love of Paterson’s poems. It was an excellent show, the arena was set up to re-enact the story and the riders and the horses put on an epic display while the poem was being narrated alongside, it was really amazing.

But before any of that, Waltzing Matilda was the one that stayed with me more than any other. That is one I think that everyone gets to know from a young age. Waltzing Matilda is a poem that is set to music that is revered by a lot of people, but if you look at the narrative it is about a man who steals a sheep and to escape being captured commits suicide in a billabong. There is something wonderfully morbid in that this is a poem we cherish. People even wanted to make it our national anthem at one point. I can’t say when we win at the Olympics or before footy games, or standing at school assemblies I would think we want that being sung, but some do. I’m not saying it isn’t an awesome poem or song, it is, but I just can’t see it as a national anthem. Because it is a song though, Waltzing Matilda has been covered by a lot of people, being originally set to music makes it more accessible I suppose than the poetry and the ballads.

What I found interesting was that Paterson did not live out in the bush while he was writing. A lot of works about rural Australia are romanticised and Paterson was no different. He was living in the city as a lawyer while he was writing about these mountain ranges and billabongs. I think though poetry needs a bit of romanticising, even if you lived in the rural areas surely in poetry you are not going to be discussing the ins and outs of farming troubles and the fact your cattle are or aren’t breeding. Instead you write about the sun setting over the hills, and the cockatoos screeching in the evening, you write about the continuing plains of barren lands and the river the winds through the ancient cliffs. No one needs to hear about the boring parts of the rural areas, romanticising is what poetry is all about.

Paterson did a lot more than just write poetry, he helped with the war effort not only as a war correspondent in the Second Boar War but as an ambulance driver in WW1 and did three voyages with horses to Africa, China, and Egypt resulting in being repatriated to Australia as a Major. He is remembered for his poetry of course more than his war effort or any of his other jobs, and after he returned home he continued writing, releasing short stories, verse, and essays but he also continued to contribute to various journalism publications.

Banjo Patterson is the guy on our $10 note for those who don’t know, and over his lifetime he wrote hundred of works which you can find a list of on Project Gutenberg, and he was even commemorated on a stamp in 1981. I’m sure there are people all over Australia who have their favourite Banjo Patterson poem, some know one, some know all, and there are always new people discovering him each day.

Paterson died in 1941 from a heart attack but he continues to live on in Australian culture and through his poetry and other works that have continued to inspire and entertain children and adults alike to this day. Happy 150th birthday, Banjo!

Learn more about Banjo Paterson

Previous Older Entries