Born: Established: 29 Nov 1925 Kempsey ; Died: 11 Jul 1974 Sydney
Elizabeth Steele was named Betty Elaine but preferred the name Elizabeth for her poetry. She grew up in a large family of writers and readers. Hazel de Berg in her 'Introduction' to Steele's Selected Poems (1978) writes 'as a child ... [Steele] became accustomed to writing and listening to people reading.' (8) There was a family weekly competition for the best poem written and read aloud. Steele was educated at MLC Burwood, Sydney, New South Wales, and was influenced by her English teacher Dorothy Law.
In 1946 Steele married Robin Steele and the family lived in Brisbane, Queensland. Living next door to Steele in Brisbane was the potter Milton Moon and his wife Bet. Both encouraged Steele and Bet Milton preserved much of Steele's poetry. De Berg calls the poetry of this time 'perhaps the most beautiful' and describes it as 'about her feelings for her children - for the place - love poetry - the long time fruitful years - the pleasure in little things.' (9)
After the family's move to Sydney, New South Wales, in 1956, Steele studied at Sydney University and gained a Diploma in Social Studies. In Sydney Steele met Ray Mathew (q.v.) and was influenced by Kenneth Slessor and Judith Wright (qq.v.). She continued to write and was inspired by her time at University. Hazel de Berg states Steele 'always had a perspective about life and loved to hold a single moment [;] but the celebration of an event was not the event itself but the writing of the poem about it.' (10).
Steele died from influenzal pneumonia in 1974.Source: Hazel de Berg, 'Introduction', Selected Poems by Elizabeth Steele (1978)