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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Mabel Forrest, 1917

Murray Studio (Brisbane & Gympie)

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 20.6 cm x 27.8 cm, image: 18.8 cm x 13.3 cm)

Mabel Forrest (née Mills, 1872–1935), writer, was born near Yandilla on the Darling Downs and grew up on various cattle stations in the district, publishing her first poem at age ten. She married at 21 and began supplementing the family income with her writing while living on a station in northern New South Wales with her selector husband, John Burkinshaw, and their infant daughter. By the age of 24, she had separated from Burkinshaw and in 1902 was granted a divorce on the grounds of his cruelty, desertion and infidelity. She married a surveyor named John Forrest soon afterwards and began to make her living as a writer. Forrest was prolific, producing poetry and short stories for many papers and magazines including the Bulletin, Lone Hand, Sydney Mail, Australian Woman’s Mirror and Smith’s Weekly. Her novel The Wild Moth (1924) was filmed by Charles Chauvel. Though never acknowledging her first marriage, she often called on the ill treatment she experienced in it as a theme in her writing. Her last poem was published two days before her death from pneumonia in March 1935.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Accession number: 2012.128

Currently not on display

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Murray Studio (Brisbane & Gympie)

Mabel Forrest (age 45 in 1917)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.