"Banjo" Paterson Dead.

The Sydney Morning Herald

6 February 1941

Prolific Bush Poet. Australia-Wide Fame.

Mr. Andrew Barton Paterson, better known throughout Australia as "Banjo" Paterson, died at a private hospital, in Sydney, yesterday afternoon, after about a fortnight's illness.

Mr. Paterson was a prolific writer of light topical verse.

His ballads of the bush had enormous popularity. He was in his 77th year.

"Banjo" Paterson was born at Narrambla, and passed his earliest years at Buckenbah, near Obley, on an fenced block of dingo infested country leased by his father and uncle from the Crown.

When he was six, the family moved to Illalong, a day's ride from Lambing Flat diggings, where Young now stands.

Later, young Paterson was sent to Sydney Grammar School. There he divided the junior Knox Prize with another student.

Missing a bursary tenable at the University, he entered a solicitor's office, eventually qualified, and practised until 1900 in partnership with Mr. William Street, a brother of the former Chief Justice.

Meanwhile, the urge to write had triumphed over the tedium of waiting for clients, the immediate fruit being a pamphlet entitled, "Australia for the Australians." It was rather terrible.

Then he turned to metrical expression, and produced a flamboyant poem about the expedition against the Mahdi, mid sent it to "The Bulletin," then struggling through its hectic days of youth.

Fearful that the contribution might be identified as the work of the pamphleteer, he signed it "the Banjo." It was published, and a note carne asking him to call. For many years after that "The Banjo" twanged every week in the Bulletin.

In the meantime much of his verse was published in book form. These volumes met with great success. "Rio Grande's Last Race" sold over 100.000 copies, and "The Man from Snowy River" and "Clancy of the Overflow," were equally successful.

War Service.

Paterson was in South Africa as correspondent of "The Sydney Morning Herald" during the Boer War, and in China during the Boxer Rebellion.

From 1903 to 1906 he was editor of the "Evening News," in Sydney, and subsequently editor of the "Town and Country Journal" for a couple of years.  

He then settled at Coodia, a pastoral property in the Wee Jasper district, near Yass, and remained there until the Great War, in which he served with a remount unit in Egypt, returning with the rank of major.

The verse which made Paterson's name a household word in Australia stirred deeply the imagination of the native born in days gone by, for it was he who for the first time gave the Australian ballad characteristically Australian expression.

Still bracing as the mountain wind, these rhymed stories of small adventure and obscure people reflect the pastoral-equestrian phase of Australian development with a fidelity of feeling and atmosphere for which generations to come will be grateful.

Paterson and his old friend, Lawson, imparted to the literature of their country a note which marked the beginning of a new period. Lawson almost always wrote as one who travelled afoot - Paterson as one who saw plain and bush from the back of a galloping   horse.

Both wrote in other strains, of course, and of other than swagmen and cockies, stock-men and bullock drivers, but bush was always at their heartstrings, and it was of the bush, as they saw it from roadside and saddle that they wrote best.

Paterson's "The Man from Snowy River," "Pardon, the Son of Reprieve," "Rio Grande's Last Race," "Saltbush Bill," and "Clancy of the Overflow" were read with delight by every campfire and billabong, and in every Australian house - recited from a thousand platforms.  

In 1903 Mr. Paterson married Miss Alice Walker, a daughter of the late Mr. W. H. Walker, formerly of Tenterfield, a relative of Mr. Thomas Walker of Yaralla.        

The poet is survived by Mrs. Paterson and the two children by the marriage, Mrs. K. Harvey, whose husband is a naval officer, and Mr. Hugh Paterson of Queensland, who is at present a member of the Australain Imperial Force on active service abroad.

The remains will be cremated to-day at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.