Biography of Banjo Paterson
Banjo Paterson was born at the property "Narrambla", near Orange, New South Wales, the eldest son of Andrew Bogle Paterson, a Scottish immigrant from Lanarkshire and Australian-born Rose Isabella Barton, related to the future first Prime Minister of Australia Edmund Barton. Paterson's family lived on the isolated Buckinbah Station in the Monaro until he was five when his father lost his wool clip in a flood and was forced to sell up. When Paterson's uncle died, his family took over the uncle's farm in Illalong, near Yass, close to the main route between Melbourne and Sydney. Bullock teams, Cobb and Co coaches and drovers were familiar sights to him. He also saw horsemen from the Murrumbidgee River area and Snowy Mountains country take part in picnic races and polo matches, which led to his fondness of horses and inspired his writings.
Paterson's early education came from a governess, but when he was able to ride a pony, he was taught at the bush school at Binalong. In 1874 Paterson was sent to Sydney Grammar School, performing well both as a student and a sportsman. At this time, he lived in a cottage called Rockend, in the suburb of Gladesville. The cottage is now listed on the Register of the National Estate. Matriculating at 16, he took up the role of an articled clerk in a law firm and on 28 August 1886 Paterson was admitted as a qualified solicitor.
In 1885, Paterson began submitting and having his poetry published in the Sydney edition of The Bulletin under the pseudonym of "The Banjo", the name of a favourite horse. Paterson, like The Bulletin, was an ardent nationalist and, in 1889 published a pamphlet, Australia for the Australians, which told of his disdain for cheap labour and his admiration of hard work and the nationalist spirit. In 1890, as "The Banjo" he wrote "The Man from Snowy River", a poem which caught the heart of the nation and, in 1895, had a collection of his works published under that name. This book is the most sold collection of Australian bush poetry and is still being reprinted today. In his lifetime, Paterson was second only to Rudyard Kipling in popularity among living poets writing in English. Paterson also became a journalist, lawyer, jockey, soldier and a farmer.
Paterson became a war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age during the Second Boer War, sailing for South Africa in October 1899. His graphic accounts of the relief of Kimberley, surrender of Bloemfontein (the first correspondent to ride in) and the capture of Pretoria attracted the attention of the press in Britain. He also was a correspondent during the Boxer Rebellion, where he met George "Chinese" Morrison and later wrote about his meeting. He was editor of the Sydney Evening News (1904–06) and of the Town and Country Journal (1907–08).
In 1908 after a trip to the United Kingdom he decided to abandon journalism and writing and moved with his family to a 40,000 acres (200 km2) property near Yass.
In World War I, Paterson failed to become a correspondent covering the fighting in Flanders, but did become an ambulance driver with the Australian Voluntary Hospital, Wimereux, France. He returned to Australia early in 1915 and, as an honorary vet, travelled on three voyages with horses to Africa, China and Egypt. He was commissioned in the 2nd Remount Unit, Australian Imperial Force on 18 October 1915, serving initially in France where he was wounded and reported missing in July 1916 and latterly as commanding officer of the unit based in Cairo, Egypt. He was repatriated to Australia and discharged from the army having risen to the rank of major in April 1919. His wife had joined the Red Cross and worked in an ambulance unit near her husband.
Just as he returned to Australia, the third collection of his poetry, Saltbush Bill JP, was published and he continued to publish verse, short stories and essays while continuing to write for the weekly Truth. Paterson also wrote on rugby league football in the 1920s for the Sydney Sportsman.
Paterson died of a heart attack in Sydney on 5 February 1941 aged 76. Paterson's grave, along with that of his wife, is in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Sydney.
On 8 April 1903 he married Alice Emily Walker, of Tenterfield Station, in St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, in Tenterfield, New South Wales. Their first home was in Queen Street, Woollahra. The Patersons had two children, Grace (born in 1904) and Hugh (born in 1906).
One of his most famous poems is "Waltzing Matilda", which was set to music and became one of Australia's most famous songs. Others include "The Man from Snowy River", which inspired a movie in 1982 and inspired a TV series in the 1990s, and "Clancy of the Overflow", the tale of a Queensland drover.
In 1905 he published a collection of bush ballads entitled Old Bush Songs.
Paterson's poems mostly presented a highly romantic view of rural Australia. Paterson himself, like the majority of Australians, was city-based and was a practising lawyer. His work is often compared to the prose of Henry Lawson, a contemporary of Paterson's, including his work "The Drover's Wife", which presented a considerably less romantic view of the harshness of rural existence of the late 19th century.
Paterson authored two novels; An Outback Marriage (1906) and The Shearer's Colt (1936), wrote many short stories; Three Elephant Power and Other Stories (1917), and wrote a book based on his experiences as a war reporter; Happy Dispatches (1934). He also wrote a book for children The Animals Noah Forgot (1933)
Contemporary recordings of many of Paterson's well known poems have been released by Jack Thompson (actor),who played Clancy in The Man from Snowy River (1982 film).
Media reports in August 2008 stated that a previously unknown poem had been found in a war diary written during the Boer War.
Banjo Paterson's image appears on the $10 note, along with an illustration inspired by "The Man From Snowy River" and, as part of the copy-protection microprint, the text of the poem itself.
In 1981 he was honoured on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post.
A. B. Paterson College, at Arundel on the Gold Coast, Australia, is named after Paterson.
The A. B. "Banjo" Paterson Library at Sydney Grammar School was named after Paterson.
The Orange, New South Wales Festival of Arts presents a biennial Banjo Paterson Award for poetry and one-act plays and there is also an annual National Book Council Banjo Award.
Banjo Paterson's Works:
Clancy of the Overflow (1889)
The Man from Snowy River (1890)
In Defence of the Bush (1892)
The Man from Ironbark (1892)
Waltzing Matilda (1895)
Hay and Hell and Booligal (1896)
Mulga Bill's Bicycle (1896)
We're All Australians Now (1915)
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Banjo Paterson Poems
The Man From Snowy River
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.
Long ago the Gladiators, When the call to combat came, Marching past the massed spectators, Hailed the Emp'ror with acclaim!
A Change Of Menu
Now the new chum loaded his three-nought-three, It's a small-bore gun, but his hopes were big. "I am fed to the teeth with old ewe," said he, "And I might be able to shoot a pig."
OH! there once was a swagman camped in the Billabong, Under the shade of a Coolabah tree; And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling, “Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”
A Dog's Mistake
He had drifted in among us as a straw drifts with the tide, He was just a wand'ring mongrel from the weary world outside; He was not aristocratic, being mostly ribs and hair, With a hint of spaniel parents and a touch of native bear.
"We'Re All Australians Now"
Australia takes her pen in hand To write a line to you, To let you fellows understand How proud we are of you.
The Man From Iron Bark
It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town, He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down. He loitered here he loitered there, till he was like to drop, Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber's shop.
Mulga Bill's Bicycle
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze; He turned away the good old horse that served him many days; He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen; He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
A Disqualified Jockey's Story
You see, the thing was this way -- there was me, That rode Panopply, the Splendor mare, And Ikey Chambers on the Iron Dook, And Smith, the half-caste rider on Regret,
A Bunch Of Roses
Roses ruddy and roses white, What are the joys that my heart discloses? Sitting alone in the fading light Memories come to me here tonight
A Ballad Of Ducks
The railway rattled and roared and swung With jolting and bumping trucks. The sun, like a billiard red ball, hung In the Western sky: and the tireless tongue
A Bushman's Song
I’M travellin’ down the Castlereagh, and I’m a station hand, I’m handy with the ropin’ pole, I’m handy with the brand, And I can ride a rowdy colt, or swing the axe all day, But there’s no demand for a station-hand along the Castlereagh. +
"He ought to be home," said the old man, "without there's something amiss. He only went to the Two-mile -- he ought to be back by this. He would ride the Reckless filly, he would have his wilful way; And, here, he's not back at sundown -- and what will his mother say?
A Song Of The Pen
Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft, Not for the people's praise; Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed, Claiming us all our days,
I ain't a timid man at all, I'm just as brave as most,
I'll take my chance in open fight and die beside my post;
But riding round the 'ole day long as target for a Krupp,
A-drawing fire from Koppies -- well, I'm fair fed up.
It's wonderful how few get hit, it's luck that pulls us through;
Their rifle fire's no class at all, it misses me and you;
But when they sprinkle shells around like water from a cup
From that there blooming pom-pom gun -- well, I'm fed up.