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Thomas Wood

(1892—1950) composer


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(1892–1950), the English composer, visited Australia 1930–32 and published a delightful record of his travels, Cobbers (1934), in which he printed the words and music of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ without realising copyright might be involved but percipiently praised it as being ‘Good enough to be the unofficial National Anthem of Australia’. Further impressions of Australia are recorded in his autobiography, True Thomas (1936). Cobbers, which owes a great deal to Wood's gregarious qualities, includes graphic descriptions of Australian landscapes and ways of life and work, both urban and rural. Enlivened by his personal, easy style, it includes numerous original comments on the national character, language and humour and distinctive summations of regional differences. Victoria is described as having sobered down ‘after a riotous youth … It creases its trousers and goes to Church’; Hobart ‘has the air of an English country town which has shed its old houses and wandered down to the sea for a rest’; Sydney is ‘an exotic: a lovely and petulant spend-thrift, going its own wilful head-strong vivid way; self-centred, yet open-hearted; absurdly vain, yet very likeable’. Wood's later book, Cobbers Campaigning (1940), is a tribute to Australia's part in the First World War.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.



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