Friday, June 27, 2014

The Lady on the $10 Note.

It's not that I have any great knowledge but blogging does make you a little inquisitive, do you agree?
I found that after leaving school much too early, my thirst for learning increased, trivial facts seem to have stayed in my head where my times table didn't. They still don't but at least my phone has a calculator and many other things including a camera which I seem to use more frequently in our blog posts. The iPhone is a great camera and so simple to handle. Ooops, there I go again, off on a tangent.

Back to the subject in hand - a week ago I posted the Aussie 10 dollar note and it got me wondering who is the lady on the other side of Banjo Patterson. Well I can tell you, she is, or was Dame Mary Gilmore.

$10 dollar note by iPhone
Why is she there on our currency? I didn't have a clue until I Googled her. She must have been an amazing lady and probably seen as rather out of place when women were to take a back seat and look after family matters.

Wikipedia best describes her literary career better than I could.
In 1890, she moved to Sydney, where she became part of the "Bulletin school" of radical writers. Although the greatest influence on her work was Henry Lawson it was Alfred "A. G." Stephens, literary editor of The Bulletin, who published her verse and established her reputation as a fiery radical poet, champion of the workers and the oppressed.
She followed William Lane and other socialist idealists to Paraguay in 1896, where they had established a communal settlement called New Australia two years earlier. At Lanes breakaway settlement Cosme she married William Gilmore in 1897. By 1900 the socialist experiment had clearly failed. Will left to work as a shearer in Argentina and Mary and her two year old son Billy soon followed, living separately in Buenos Aires for about six months, and then the family moved to Patagonia until they saved enough for a return passage, via England, in 1902 to Australia, where they took up farming near Casterton, Victoria.
Gilmore's first volume of poetry was published in 1910, and for the ensuing half-century she was regarded as one of Australia's most popular and widely read poets. In 1908 she became women's editor of The Worker, the newspaper of Australia's largest and most powerful trade union, the Australian Workers' Union (AWU). She was the union's first woman member. The Worker gave her a platform for her journalism, in which she campaigned for better working conditions for working women, for children's welfare and for a better deal for the indigenous Australians.

Dame Mary Gilmore had a long fruitful life reaching her 97th year and she, as was Australia poet Henry Lawson given a State Funeral. 
Portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore by William Dobell
I can't really say that I know a great deal about Mary Gilmore's history other than the research did over an hour while writing this post but I hope that it inspires you, as it has me to learn more about a great lady that adorns our ten dollar note.

I will never look at that note in my wallet the same again without wondering more about Mary Gilmore's Life.


  1. What a cool way to pique our interest in Australian history. I knew quite a lot about Dame Mary Gilmore but not about Daisy Bates who the mint may well put on the next note that needs a historically important woman. These 19th century women were amazing!!

    Thanks for the link

  2. Hels - Strong women that make a difference.


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