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Dame Mary Gilmore
, 1961

by Max Dupain

gelatin silver photograph (image: 45.8 cm x 39.5 cm)

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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by Timothy Fairfax AC 2003
Accession number: 2003.23