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Dame Mary Gilmore DBE

1865 – 1962

Dame Mary Gilmore DBE (1865-1962) was a poet, journalist and social visionary who campaigned for social reform from a radical standpoint. She was the first female member of the Australian Workers' Union, and from 1908 to 1931 she championed the causes of the underprivileged as editor of the women's page of the Australian Worker. The wild swan, a book of verse excoriating the white settlers' ravaging of the land and destruction of Aboriginal culture, was published in 1930; Under the Wilgas (1932) and subsequent works expanded on this theme. Between 1891 and 1961 at least thirteen portraits were made of Gilmore by various artists, an indication of her importance as patriot, feminist, social crusader and folklorist. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1937 in recognition of her contribution to Australian life and literature.

Updated 2018