Skip to main content

Adam Lindsay Gordon, 1890-1894

S. Milbourn Jnr

albumen silver photograph on cabinet card (support: 16.5 cm x 10.7 cm, image: 13.1 cm x 10.6 cm)

More images of this artwork

Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833–1870), poet and horseman, arrived in Adelaide in 1853 and joined the South Australian Mounted Police. After two years he resigned and found work as a horse-breaker and also began establishing himself as a steeplechase rider at country race meetings. On his mother’s death in 1859 he came into a £7,000 inheritance, much of which was later squandered in various imprudent investments. Meanwhile, he’d married, served a term in the South Australian parliament, and started writing. Gordon’s poems began appearing in newspapers in 1864 and in 1867 he published his first two volumes of verse. He then moved to Ballarat and joined the Light Horse but suffered a serious horse-riding accident in early 1868 which compounded other misfortunes: the failure of yet another business venture and the death of his infant daughter. He nevertheless built on his reputation for hunting and horsemanship; and continued to publish and garner praise for his poetry, a third volume of which, Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes, appeared in 1870. Very shortly after its publication, however, and having failed to secure another inheritance that would have assuaged some of his financial worries, Gordon committed suicide, shooting himself on the beach at Brighton. ‘The bold resolute man, the accomplished scholar in whose heart burned true poetic fire, and the warm-hearted friend’ was buried in the Brighton cemetery, his grave becoming a site of pilgrimage for his admirers for many years to come.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008

Accession number: 2008.7

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)

Adam Lindsay Gordon

Subject professions


Related portraits

1. Portrait of Henry Kendall, c.1890-94. 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.