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Leon Gellert with mask
, 1936

by Max Dupain

gelatin silver photograph (mount: 50.5 cm x 40.5 cm, image/sheet: 39.5 cm x 30.3 cm)

Leon Gellert (1892-1977), poet and journalist, was a physical education teacher at Hindmarsh Public School in his native Adelaide when the World War 1 began in 1914. Eighteen days later he enlisted in the AIF. He began writing poetry on board ship in the Aegean. Wounded at Gallipoli, he was nursed back to health in London, returned to Adelaide and discharged unfit in mid-1916 (a few months later, he tried to re-enlist, but it came to naught). He went back to teaching, and continued to write. Songs of a Campaign (1917) went quickly into repeat editions, the third illustrated by Norman Lindsay. A second book, The Isle of San (1919), also illustrated by Lindsay, proved far less successful. Moving to Sydney, Gellert taught at Cleveland Street Intermediate High until 1922, when he began writing the ‘Man in the Mask’ column in Smith’s Weekly. The same year, he started co-editing Art in Australia and became a director of Art in Australia Ltd. Until 1942, he edited The Home. Henceforth, he worked for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sunday Herald and, in the 1960s, the Sunday Telegraph, writing elegant, lightly humorous columns, many based around his home in Burran Ave, Mosman. Toward the end of his life he returned to Adelaide, where he lived with his dachshund in a house he named Crumble Cottage. His biography by Gavin Souter, A Torrent of Words, was published in 1996.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Danina Anderson, daughter of Max Dupain 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2017.23