Notes on Author

Barcroft Boake

BARCROFT BOAKE was born in Sydney, NSW, in 1866. His father was a photographer who had migrated from Ireland. Boake received an education that was superior to the norm of the time and took work, in 1886, as a surveyors assistant in the Snowy river country. He then took a position as boundary rider and drover on a cattle station. He believed life in the bush to be ‘the only life worth living.’ In 1888 a joke hanging went badly wrong and Boake nearly died. He seems to have been obsessed with the experience, and wrote at least two separate accounts of it. He returned to Sydney in 1891, despite his love of the bush, due to family circumstances. Boake failed to manage the personal and financial problems which beset him on his return and, being of a depressive personality, on May 2nd, 1892 he disappeared from home. Eight days later his body was found, at Folly Point in the Middle Harbour scrub, hanging by the neck from a stockwhip. In this action he reflected the passing of his idol Adam Lindsay Gordon twenty-two years prior to his own death.

Boake believed that the ‘romance of the outback’ was a grim one as shown in his well-known poem ‘Where the Dead Men Lie’. He used the pseudonym, ‘Surcingle’, when publishing what was to become his most well-known poem, and the title poem of his only volume of work which was published after Boake’s death by A.G. Stephens. His dark conception aligns him more with Henry Lawson and Barbara Baynton than the spirited and sardonic view of most bush poets.

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