Guide to the Papers of Dame Mary Gilmore [MSS 062]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Dame Mary Gilmore
Manuscript Number MSS 062
Last Updated August 2021
Extent 15 cm (3 folders)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract This collection comprises a volume of manuscript drafts of Gilmore's poems and two volumes of correspondence.

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content

The Dame Mary Gilmore Papers feature a volume of annotated manuscript drafts of Gilmore's poems. Most of the poems in this volume were published in her first book Marri'd and other verses (1910). There are also two volumes of correspondence, including letters to John Le Gay Brereton (1909-1933) and correspondence with Hugh McCrae (1930-1951).

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note

Wikipedia article:

Mary Gilmore, nee Cameron, was born near Goulburn, New South Wales, on 16 August 1865. She was educated at Brucedale, near Wagga Wagga, and later at Wagga Wagga Public School. Between 1877 and 1895 Gilmore taught in a number of schools in New South Wales. In 1896 she joined William Lane's 'New Australia' movement in Paraguay. She married fellow colonist and Victorian shearer William Alexander Gilmore (1866-1945) in 1897, and their only child William Dysart Cameron Gilmore (1898-1945) was born at Villarica, near the Cosme settlement. Before returning to Australia in 1902, Gilmore taught English in Rio Gallegos in southern Patagonia and wrote for Buenos Aires newspapers.

In 1903, A. G. Stephens featured Gilmore's poetry in the Red Page of the Bulletin, and in 1908 she became the first editor of the women's page of the Sydney Worker. Gilmore's first volume of poems, Marri'd and other verses, appeared in 1910. Other publications include The passionate heart (1918), Hound of the road (1922), The tilted cart (1925), The wild swan (1930), The rue tree (1931), Under the wilgas (1932), Old days, old ways (1934), Battlefields (1939), The disinherited (1941) and Fourteen men (1954).

In 1937, Gilmore was made a Dame of the British Empire in recognition of her contribution to Australian literature. She was the first woman to receive this award for services to literature. Gilmore was a founder of the Lyceum Club, Sydney, a founder and vice-president in 1928 of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, an early member of the New South Wales Institute of Journalists and a life member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Dame Mary Gilmore died on 3 December 1962.


Administrative Information


Access and Copying Conditions

Access: Check with Curator

This collection contains a variety of copyright material. Copyright is held by the creator of each item. Specific conditions for this collection are listed below. If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items. Digitised material from manuscript collections is provided to clients by UNSW Canberra in good faith for private study and research only, and may not be published or re-purposed without the express and written permission of the individual legal holder of that copyright. Refer also to the UNSW copyright, disclaimer and takedown policy. 

Copying: Check with Curator

Preferred Citation

Papers of Dame Mary Gilmore, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 062, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


The collection was acquired from Tim McCormick in 1986.

Separated Material

Further papers relating to Dame Mary Gilmore are held by the National Library, the State Library of New South Wales, the Charles Sturt University Regional Archives, the Fryer Library, University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney Library, University of Sydney.


Subject Keywords



Poetry, women poets, women authors, Australian authors

Personal Names

Dame Mary Gilmore 1865-1962

John Le Gay Brereton 1871-1933

Hugh McCrae 1876-1958




Container List


Series 1 Correspondence, 1909-1951

The first item in this series contains correspondence between Gilmore (17 letters) and Hugh McCrae (9 letters, mainly fragments), written between 1930 and 1951. The correspondence reflects Gilmore's affectionate regard for McCrae, who was one of her dearest friends. There are also three letters from George Mackaness to McCrae, referring to Gilmore and her work.

The second volume contains a more comprehensive series of letters to John Le Gay Brereton (34 letters), spanning the period 1909 to 1932. There is also a letter of condolence from Gilmore to Mrs Brereton after Brereton's death in 1933. In the letters Gilmore discusses her writing and other activities, including references to her work with Brereton on the Censorship Appeal Board. Gilmore also comments on literary figures such as John Shaw Neilson, George Robertson and Bernard O'Dowd. The volume includes manuscript drafts of various poems by Gilmore (12 p.), together with a draft of a long poem written as a memorial to J. F. Archibald (3 p.).

Volume 1
Correspondence with Hugh McCrae, 1930-1951, including letters of George Mackaness

Volume 2
Letters to John Le Gay Brereton, 1909-1933, including manuscript drafts of poems by Gilmore


Series 2 Poetry

This series comprises a volume of handwritten drafts of poems, annotated by Gilmore with criticisms and other comments. This collection of poems formed the basis for Gilmore's first book Marri'd and other verses (1910), published by George Robertson of Melbourne. The verso of each page is signed by Gilmore. Many of the poems are annotated with the date of their first publication, together with the name of the newspaper or magazine in which they appeared, including Bookfellow, the Bulletin, the Hobart Clipper, the Wagga Wagga Express and the Sydney Worker.

Volume 1
Manuscript drafts of poems, inscribed 'Mss a present from Dora Wilcox [who bore] cost of binding by Collins 13/11/53'