George Essex Evans

(1863—1909) poet and journalist

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(1863–1909), born London, came to Australia in 1881. He tried farming then turned briefly to teaching, and later journalism as agricultural editor of the Queenslander. In 1888 he joined the public service, ultimately becoming district registrar at Toowoomba. His first volume of poetry, The Repentance of Magdalene Despar, was published in 1891. Two other volumes are Loraine and Other Verses (1898) and The Secret Key and Other Verses (1906). In 1901 he won £50 for his ‘Ode for Commonwealth Day’. The Collected Verse of George Essex Evans was published as a memorial edition in 1928. His best-known individual poem, a great favourite in the first half of this century and frequently anthologised, is ‘The Women of the West’, a tribute to the women of the outback. His ‘An Australian Symphony’ is still considered highly as a patriotic poem, but in his other verse romantic themes predominate. More highly thought of in Queensland than elsewhere, Evans was undoubtedly a better poetic craftsman than many of his contemporaries among the bush balladists, but he failed to win the same popularity. His major narrative works, e.g. ‘Magdalene Despar’, although competent and enthusiastic, have lapsed into obscurity. In Toowoomba, where he worked and died, there is a monument to him and an annual George Essex Evans pilgrimage. Henry A. Tardent wrote The Life and Poetry of George Essex Evans (1913).

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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