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Mary Rattenbury Mary Rattenbury i(A14565 works by) (birth name: Mary McIntyre) (a.k.a. Mrs. William Rattenbury)
Born: Established: 12 Jul 1878 Ipswich, Ipswich area, South East Queensland, Queensland, ; Died: Ceased: 23 Aug 1937 Brisbane, Queensland,
Gender: Female
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Rattenbury was the daughter of John and Teresa McIntyre and the first of five children to survive childhood. During her childhood her family moved to an area south of Townsville on the Burdekin River, then to the Johnstone River, to the Herbert River area, to Brisbane and then to Charters Towers. By 1888 the McIntyres were at Mount Morgan where Rattenbury attended her first school and began to write. Her poems were published in local Rockhampton newspapers such as the Morning Bulletin and the Capricornian and later the Daily Record and the Woman's Budget. Some of them expressed her resentment at the hard life she had experienced as a child; there is some suggestion she hated her father (McDonald-Armstrong, 1990).

At the age of sixteen, Rattenbury left Mount Morgan to take up a position with a Rockhampton family. Two years later she married William Rattenbury. During thirty-seven years of marriage Rattenbury had four children, all born in Rockhampton. In 1916 the family went to live in Yeppoon and became well known locally with Mary Rattenbury, a Justice of the Peace, working as a storekeeper and writing in the local press. Her husband was a member of the Livingstone Shire Council and an auctioneer. Rattenbury was considered a radical in her views and determination to be heard in the press. She was always trying to improve the condition of working class wives and their families.

During World War I, she wrote many poems on the war; the sale of one poem 'Old Nick' organised through the Daily Record raised 1,025 pounds by May 1916 for a fund to help wounded soldiers. Rattenbury was strongly opposed to conscription and she wrote letters to the local press urging a 'No' vote in the conscription referendum. She also wrote a poem on 'The Burial of the Daylight Bill' around the termination of daylight saving on the 25 March 1917. By the late 1920s her stories and songs were being published in America and she took out copyright on some of them through the Library of Congress Copyright Office. Rattenbury also had stories accepted for radio broadcasting on 4QG in Australia, for instance 'Australian Native Bear'. She was one of our first conservationists, recognising that the koala was an endangered species.

Rattenbury was gaining wider recognition among Australian writers; Mary Gilmore (q.v.) apparently thought highly of her work and John Le Gay Brereton (q.v.) read her poems and recommended she contact George Robertson (q.v.) of Angus and Robertson to get them published (Rattenbury (1939): 154-156). In 1926 she became a member of the Society of Australian Composers and Authors while resident in Sydney. Towards the end of 1930 she returned to Yeppoon. Soon after she was appointed a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. According to McDonald-Armstrong (1990): 19 Rattenbury had communication with a wide variety of Australian writers - F.E. Baume, Dulcie Deamer, J. F. Archibald, Dame Mary Gilmore, C. J. Dennis, Ambrose Pratt, Miles Franklin, Ethel Anderson, Eleanor Dark, A. E. Pearse, Robert Kaleski, A. G. Stephens, Bartlett Adamson, P.R. Stephensen, Barbara Baynton, A. H. Davis and Louise Stone [sic] (qq.v.). However, she became the forgotten poet in Central Queensland during the fifty years after her death.

(Source: Adapted from Sid McDonald-Armstrong Mary Rattenbury ed. Christine Cullen and Jean Renew (1990))

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Last amended 21 Nov 2013 15:34:36
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