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Frederick T. Macartney Frederick T. Macartney i(A15384 works by) (birth name: Frederick Thomas Bennett Macartney) (a.k.a. Frederick Thomas Macartney; Thomas Bennett Macartney; T. B. Macartney; Fred Macartney)
Born: Established: 27 Sep 1887 Port Melbourne, South Melbourne - Port Melbourne area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 2 Sep 1980 Blackburn South, Blackburn - Mitcham - Vermont area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,
Gender: Male
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Frederick Macartney was born and educated at Port Melbourne. After finishing school, he was a shop assistant for some time before working as a book keeper on a Riverina station (1910-1912). Through his Methodist upbringing he became involved in the Young Men's Literary and Debating Society. The skills he developed subsequently helped him to win impromptu speech competitions; and his verse won many prizes in competitions for non-professional writers.

After returning to Melbourne in 1912, he was encouraged by Bernard O'Dowd to concentrate on his verse. He was also a member of the Fabian Society and the Victorian Socialist Party. Through these memberships he developed friendships with a number of other Melbourne writers, including Frank Wilmot, Henry Tate, Guido Baracchi and Vance and Nettie Palmer (qq.v.). With a number of his acquaintances he founded the Melbourne Literary Club in 1916 and served as editor of the Club's magazine Birth in 1920.

In 1921 Macartney moved to the Northern Territory where he worked in the public service for twelve years. While in the Northern Territory he continued to contribute to the Bulletin and, on his return to Melbourne in 1933, he began an influential twenty year period as a significant figure in Australian literary culture.

Macartney worked as a freelance poet, critic, lecturer, editor, biographer and broadcaster. Many of his reviews appeared in All About Books during the 1930s and he was a lecturer on Australian Literature for the Commonwealth Literary Fund in the 1940s. He was also an influential member of organisations such as the Australian Literature Society and the International P.E.N. Club. He founded the Melbourne Literary Club in 1916 and was editor of its journal Birth and edited the 1947 number of Australian Poetry. His 1940s term as president of the Fellowship of Australian Writers ended in protest over the membership of left-wing writers.

Since the 1950s Macartney has been largely ignored by critics and historians, but his literary output made a significant contribution to Australian literature. His first publications appeared in the Australasian and he subsequently published more than a dozen volumes of verse, a biography of Frank Wilmot and his own autobiography. In 1957 Macartney published A Noticeable Man, a biography of his friend Judge Ross Mallam, number three of the Bulldozer Booklets, a series whose title was 'suggestive of a demolishing intention'. He also published a booklet The Aboriginal Dilemma (1975). Perhaps he is best-known today for his revision of E. Morris Miller's bibliography of Australian literature to produce Australian Literature: A Bibliography to 1938 . . . Extended to 1950, more familiarly known as 'Miller and Macartney'.

In later years Macartney remained a staunch critic of modern writers for abandoning traditional forms, distancing himself from much post-war writing and other trends in the arts. He died in 1980.

Most Referenced Works


  • This author has been listed as Thomas Bennett Macartney by H. M. Green, An Outline of Australian Literature (1930).

Awards for Works

Judge's Comment 1941 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin Papers , Summer vol. 1 no. 6 1941; (p. 15)
Ashton Murphy Memorial Literature Competition

Known archival holdings

Albinski 137
National Library of Australia (ACT)
State Library of Victoria (VIC)
Last amended 7 Oct 2008 10:15:14
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