Poets Versus Critics


E. J. Brady, an early Bulletin contributor, is perhaps best known for the sea poems collected in his first volume of verse The Ways of Many Waters, published by the Bulletin in 1899 and republished by Lothian in 1909. These were the poems praised by John Masefield, who referred to them as 'the best poems yet written about the merchant sailor and the man-of-war's man'. But there were many facets to the ability of this versatile and flamboyant Australian. All kinds of serious and humorous verse as well as biographical, commercial and geographical books issued from his facile pen. In addition to being poet and prose writer, he was vitally involved in the early days of the Socialist and Labor Parties, attempted to enter politics directly but was narrowly defeated at branch pre-selection, edited several Labor Party papers as well as literary and general journals and ran press agencies in both Sydney and Melbourne. He had a wide and varied circle of friends drawn from political and literary circles from the late 1880s until the middle of this century. Friend of W. A. Holman, W. M. Hughes, and John Curtin, he could also claim close friendship from his schooldays with Quinn and Brennan and long association with Lawson and Daley. But it was while he was editing a general and sporting journal called the Arrow (which had previously been the Dead Bird and then the Bird-o'-Freedom) in the late 1890s that Brady tried his hand at writing a serial, an occupation he so enjoyed that it proved to be the first of six humorous serials he wrote and published in that journal. The last of these, 'The Younger Quixote', appeared in 1901 but was published in the New South Wales Bookstall Scries by A. C. Rowlandson as Tom Pagdin-Pirate in 1912. It was the first of these serials 'Rougemont Outdone', however, which saw the battle of the Poets and the Critics.

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Published 1 May 1972 in Volume 5 No. 3. Subjects: Australian poetry, Literary controversies.

Cite as: Webb, John. ‘Poets Versus Critics.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 5, no. 3, 1972, doi: 10.20314/als.fc963fdef1.