Banjo Paterson Has A Permanent Spot On The Bookshelf

I was recently reminded of a pair of books that I’ve been carting around for nearly twenty years though with over 1,500 pages between them they are not the type for genteel bedtime reading.

Fellow blogger Kevin Adams is a lover of all things music with a particular bent for traditional folk, with a tendency to write music of a historical nature. I particularly enjoyed his album A Crossword War – Bletchley Park Remembered In Song and his more recent  homage with Pegasus, A Song For D Day.

But back to the books : Singer Of The Bush, the complete works of Andrew Barton Paterson from 1885 – 1900, and Song Of The Pen covering the period 1901 – 1941. First editions, they were a gift for my father when he retired and cost me $40 each – a hellava lot of money when I was earning only $116 per week!

Paterson, fondly known as Banjo,  (17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on rural and outback areas. His more notable poems include “Clancy of the Overflow” (1889), “The Man from Snowy River” (1890) and “Waltzing Matilda” (1895), regarded widely as Australia’s unofficial national anthem.

He was a war correspondent during the Boer War, an ambulance driver in the First World War and honorary vet for the Light Horse Brigade as well as a farmer, lawyer and massive sports fan.(His nickname came from a racehorse he’d won a few bob on).

Copies of Paterson’s published submissions to The Bulletin, considered the premier news magazine at the time, include illustrations by famous artists such as Norman Lindsay. There is also a wealth of history within these tomes including the poet’s friendships with fellow balladeers Henry Lawson and Breaker Morant.

I find it disappointing that copies of these volumes are regularly on throw out tables at charity book sales. If you find a set in reasonable condition they are well worth picking up to be reminded of an earlier Australia.

Add To Must Do List :

Yeoval NSW.      Banjo Paterson Cafe and Museum

Yass NSW.          Banjo Paterson Park

Orange NSW.      The  biennial Festival of Arts presents a Banjo Paterson Award for poetry and one-act plays.

12 thoughts on “Banjo Paterson Has A Permanent Spot On The Bookshelf

  1. Great post, and thank you for prompting my memories of my father and his recitation of The Man From Snowy River, apparently learned at school and never forgotten. The jollier the party, the more rollicking the ballad 🙂 I inherited his book ‘The Collected Verse of A. B. Paterson’ the 44th edition published in 1981 by Angus and Robertson from their first publication in 1921. Here’s to many more!


  2. Kevin Adams

    And he wrote ‘Song of the Artesian Water’ – I wonder if the rather incongruous paragraph about me at the beginning here was because I pointed you at my recording of it a while back? Anyway, thanks for the mention and another totally enjoyable read!


      1. Kevin Adams

        They are baffling at times, which is a pity because the platform is so enabling.
        PS I’ve even just got in a muddle trying to post this reply to your reply, so it might appear twice (at least!!)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I was hoping to visit in August when I was due to travel to Longreach. Although the trip is still going ahead many of the attractions remain closed such as the sunset Thompson River cruise, the Stockmans Hall of Fame has reduced availability, and the Biłby regeneration facility remains closed. As soon as everything is functioning again you wont see me for dust.


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