Categories: This Day In History July 01 | This Day In History January 14 | Australian Notables | Australian Poets | Australian Fiction Writers | Officers of the Order of the British Empire | Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, New South Wales | Nominated Profiles.
H. M. Green describes Dorothea Mackellar  OBE as "a lyricist of colour and light in love with the Australian landscape". She never thought of herself as a poet. She wrote, "I have written from the heart, from imagination, from experience some amount of verse." Dorothea Mackellar was an Australian poet and writer. Her poem My Country is one of the best known of all Australian poems.
Dorothea Mackellar was another wonderful Australian poet who loved Australia and the Australian countryside. Her poem "My Country" is one of the best known of all Australian poems. The first verse is about England. It was originally written as a letter to her English cousins. The other verses are about Australia. The second verse is the most well known. Most Australians, I am sure, could recite this verse. As young children we were taught this poem at school.
Dorothea Mackellar was born in 1885 in Sydney. Her parents were Sir Charles Mackellar, a Doctor and a member of Parliament, and Marion Buckland, whose father was Thomas Buckland, a merchant, pastoralist and banker. Dorothea was educated at home and travelled the world with her parents, although she sometimes attended lectures at the University of Sydney. She could speak several languages; French, Spanish, German and Italian. Although she was raised in Sydney she spent a lot of time at her brothers' farms near Gunnedah, in the north-west of New South Wales. Dorothea wrote about the Australian bush and countryside. She was known as a bush poet. The inspiration for her poetry was from the times spent at her brothers' farms, which was a far cry from her every day life in Sydney.
Dorothea was very young when she began writing. Magazines published her poems and compositions, for which she was also paid. Dorothea and her family were visiting London, waiting for her brother to return from the Boer War, when they heard the terrible news that he had been killed in South Africa. Dorothea was homesick and to hear of her brother's death made it worse. She missed Australia, so she wrote "Core of my Heart".  Dorothea's poem "Core of My Heart" wasn't seen in print until the 5th September 1908 issue of the "London Spectator". It was seen a number of times in Australia before Dorothea renamed it "My Country" in her first book,  "The Closed Door, and Other Verses" in 1911. She published a number of poems and novels between 1914 and 1926."The Witch-Maid,  and Other Verses" and two more volumes of poetry and a novel, "Outlaw's Luck" (London). In 1912 and 1914 Dorothea and her friend Ruth Bedford wrote two novels. During World War I "My Country" became one of the best known Australian poems.
Dorothea Mackellar helped form the Sydney Publishers, Editors and Novelists Club in 1931. She was also Honorary Treasurer of the Bush Book Club of New South Wales. She was one of the founding members of the Sydney P.E.N. Club. Dorothea's parents lived with her as they got older so she could care for them. She stopped writing after her father's death in 1926. Her mother died in 1933. In later years Dorothea suffered ill health. She spent ten years in a Randwick nursing home. After Dorothea's younger brothers died she was able to keep both of the family homes; Cintra, Darling Point, and a house at Church Point on Pittwater. In 1968 Dorothea was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to Australian Literature.  She died in the Scottish Hospital, Paddington on 14 January 1968, after she had a terrible fall at home. Dorothea Mackellar's service was held at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point. After she was cremated, Dorothea was laid to rest in  Waverley Cemetery, in the family vault. Dorothea Mackellar never married, although she was engaged twice. After her death, her estate was valued for probate at over $1,580,000. The Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards were established in 1984, which is now an Australian wide poetry competition for all school students in Australia.
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