Born: Established: 27 Apr 1889 St Leonards ; Died: 9 Aug 1968 Concord
Harley Matthews was born in North Sydney and grew up on his parents' vineyard at Fairfield, New South Wales. He was educated at the Fairfield Public School and Sydney Boys' High School. Matthews worked as an articled clerk 1906-1914 and then enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He took part in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, was mentioned in despatches, wounded and served in France before discharge in 1917.
After the war Matthews pursued a career in journalism with the Sydney Sun 1918-1920, where he also contributed stories and sketches, issued in his only story collection, Saints and Soldiers (1918). He wrote freelance in the United States 1920-1922 but then turned to winegrowing with his wife, Barbara Goode, on the Georges River at Moorebank. The vineyard attracted a large group of mostly Bohemian writers, artists and eccentrics in search of good wine and conversation in the 1930s. Between 1912 and 1938 Matthews published three books of verse, including Under the Open Sky (1912) and Vintage (1938) .
Matthews was divorced in 1940 and in 1942 wrongfully arrested and imprisoned as a seditionist for suspected membership of the Australia First Movement. This blunder by military intelligence was not publicly acknowledged until 1945 when the report of the Clyne Royal Commission into the Australia First Movement found he was a loyal subject and not a member. Matthews was awarded 700 pounds in compensation. From 1943 Matthews lived alone on a mixed farm at Ingleburn on the outskirts of Sydney where he continued to entertain and write poetry until his death.
(Source: J. T. Laird, 'Matthews, Harley (1889 - 1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, MUP, 1986, pp 447-448.)