Poems by George E. Evans
George Essex Evans
1863 - 1909
george essex evans has over 200 published poems attributed to his name. His work frequently appeared in Australian newspapers and he wrote in many other literary forms including short stories, essays, various humorous works and a novella.
The Early Years
family a fortune of 60 000 pounds, but it did not last very long. Consequently, Evans was raised and educated by his mother Mary Ann (nee Owen). She was an educated woman, fluent in both Latin and Greek.
Move to Australia
Initially he earned a living by working as a teacher at a private school, but eventually became an Agricultural Editor of The Queenslander. Evans also wrote travel books for the Government Tourist and Intelligence Bureau. He entered the public service in 1888 and eventually became District Registrar of births, deaths and marriages first for Gympie and then later for Toowoomba.
Evans, the Man
His first volume of poetry, The Repentance of Magdalene Despar, was published in 1891. Between 1892 and 1897 Evans was associated with John Tighe Ryan in the production of the periodical, The Antipodean. In 1898 another collection of poetry, Loraine and Other Verses, was published and in 1901 Evans won a prize of fifty guineas for his "Ode for Commonwealth Day". Although this ode was praised by the then Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, it was criticised by his peers as trite.
The Secret Key and Other Verses which included part of the Loraine volume, was published in 1906. He won a reputation in his own state of Queensland as the author of patriotic verse, as in "Cymru", and his bush ballads, such as "The Women of the West," were popular.
His work was also noticed by the Queensland State Government and following the success of The Garden of Queensland, Evans was promoted to the Chief Secretary's department to advertise and sell Queensland at the Franco-British Exhibition in London in May 1908.
Evans also wrote and produced some theatrical works for the Brisbane Theatre including Robinson Crusoe, a pantomime and Musical Whist. During the last two years of his life he wrote prolifically about the resources of his state for the Queensland government.
Evans also founded the Austral Society in Toowoomba in 1903 to promote music, art, literature, science and industry.
Evans died at age forty-six from complications arising from gall bladder surgery in 1909. The news of his death was first delivered on the stage of the Austral Hall during the largest Austral Festival celebrations ever held. Evans's death prompted an emergency meeting of the Austral Association Committee who, knowing that of all the titles Evans held he was most proud of 'Founder of the Austral Association,' decided that the festival must continue. A series of emotional tributes to his impact on advancing the cause of Australian Music, Art and Literature followed.
His funeral was held on the 11th of November 1909 at the St. James Church and he was eulogized by Alfred Deakin whom he shared a long correspondence with in Federal Parliament as 'Australia's Poet.'
In a speech that was wired to the poet's widow after his death, Australian Prime Minister Deakin shared his sentiments stating that he was:
"Deeply grieved at sudden and unexpected death of your greatly-gifted husband. Australia will mourn the loss of her national poet whose patriotic songs stirred her people profoundly in the arduous campaign for union."
Evans works include: