Skip to main content

Portrait of Henry Kendall, c.1890-94

S. Milbourn Jnr

albumen silver photograph on cabinet card (support: 16.5 cm x 10.7 cm, image: 13.5 cm x 10.1 cm)

More images of this artwork

Henry (Thomas Henry) Kendall (1839-1882) was once regarded as the finest poet Australia had produced. Kendall received a limited education and worked on a whaling ship before contributing his first poems to the Month in 1859. In 1861 he commenced employment as a clerk, and by 1866 he was working in the Colonial Secretary’s Office in Sydney. Over this period his reputation as a poet grew through the appearance of the volume Poems and Songs (1862) and his regular contributions to publications in Sydney and Melbourne. The volume Leaves from Australian Forests (1869) garnered critical praise but sold poorly; in late 1870, in bad physical and financial shape, he was charged with forging and uttering a cheque. Successfully defended by WB Dalley on the grounds of insanity, he lost his wife and children, and became a derelict. In due course he was committed to the Gladesville Hospital, but friends took him in, and eventually he was able to regain his family and resume his writing. His Songs from the Mountains (1880) was a great success. Henry Parkes intervened to secure his appointment as inspector of forests in 1881, but the following year he died of tuberculosis. He was the first of a number of prominent Australian poets and literary figures – including Henry Lawson, Dorothea McKellar and Jules Francois Archibald – to be buried in Waverley Cemetery.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008

Accession number: 2008.6

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

S. Milbourn Jnr (age 27 in 1890)

Henry Kendall

Subject professions


Related portraits

1. Adam Lindsay Gordon, 1890-1894. All S. Milbourn Jnr.
© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.