A. B. Paterson A. B. Paterson i(A17466 works by) (a.k.a. Andrew Barton Paterson; Banjo Paterson; A.B., ('Banjo') Paterson; A.B., ('Banjo') Patterson)
Also writes as: El Mahdi ; B ; The B ; The Banjo ; A. B. P.
Born: Established: 17 Feb 1864 Narrambla, Orange area, Bathurst - Orange area, Central West NSW, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 5 Feb 1941 Sydney,
Gender: Male
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Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson was born at Narrambla near Orange in 1864. Born into a family of graziers, Paterson developed a love for horses and the outdoors. In 1871 his family moved to the Yass district. Paterson received lessons from a governess and later attended a bush school before completing his education at Sydney Grammar School. After failing a University of Sydney Scholarship examination, Paterson trained as a solicitor and was admitted in 1886. He practised in partnership with John William Street for most of the 1890s.

Paterson's first poem was published in the Bulletin in 1885, beginning a publishing relationship that saw him become one of the most popular poets in Australia. In 1895 Angus and Robertson published Paterson's first collection, The Man from Snowy River, and Other Verses, to great acclaim. The first edition sold out in a week and further issues continued to sell steadily for months. This book contained many of Paterson's well-known poems in addition to the title poem: 'Clancy of the Overflow,' 'The Geebung Polo Club,' and 'The Man from Ironbark' were all included. In 1895, while holidaying in Winton, Queensland, Paterson wrote Australia's best-known folk song, "Waltzing Matilda". Paterson acknowledged the influence of the bush ballad on his verse. That same year he also wrote the 'book' for the operetta, Club Life - a collaboration with composer/organist, Ernest Truman.

In his travels through New South Wales and Queensland Peterson collected a number of ballads and published the collection as Old Bush Songs in 1905. While the simplicity of Paterson's poetry is acknowledged by critics, the power of his arcadian vision is indisputable. Unlike many of Paterson's contemporaries, his poetry continues to hold the interest of both scholars and the public.

Although best known as a bush poet, Paterson was also a journalist and war correspondent.  He began writing journalism in the 1890s, contributing prose pieces about his travels through the Northern Territory and other places to the Sydney Mail, the Pastoralists’ Review, the Australian Town and Country Journal, the Lone Hand and the Bulletin.

In 1899, he sailed to South Africa to cover the Boer War for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age as their war correspondent. While there, he was attached to General French’s column from where he reported on the capture of Pretoria, the relief of Kimberley and the surrender of Bloemfontein. Because of the quality of his reporting, he was appointed a correspondent on the war for Reuters.

Paterson returned to Sydney in 1900 and sailed to China the following year as a roving correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald. From 1903 till 1908, he was editor of the Sydney Evening News. When World War 1 broke out, he sailed to England hoping to cover the fighting from Flanders, but this was not to be. He returned to Australia in 1915 and was commissioned in the 2nd Remount Unit, Australian Imperial Force and served in the Middle East.

Paterson married Alice Emily in 1903. They spent much time in the country on several properties so that Paterson's two children could have the rural childhood he fondly remembered. But after World War I, the family settled permanently in Sydney. Here Paterson was a celebrated citizen and well-known racing identity. He continued to write poetry and journalism. He contributed articles to both the Sydney Mail and Smith’s Weekly before becoming editor of the Sydney Sportsman in 1922 In 1934, his memoir of famous people he had met on his travels over the previous four decades was published as Happy Dispatches. In 1939, the year he was appointed C.B.E, he wrote reminiscences for the Sydney Morning Herald. He died two years later after a short illness.

Most Referenced Works


  • A. B. Paterson was included in the Bulletin's '100 Most Influential Australians' list in 2006.
  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Andrew Barton Paterson.
  • Paterson was the grandson of Emily Mary Barton.

Awards for Works

The Man from Ironbark 1974 single work picture book children's humour The man from Ironbark, a real bushman, is visiting Sydney for the first time. He finds the rush and bustle too exhausting so he decides to rest in a barber's and enjoy a shave. The barber, 'small and flash' tries to pull a joke on the bushman but comes off second best because his victim is a man whose actions speak louder than words.
1975 winner Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards Picture Book of the Year
Old Bush Songs : Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days 1905 anthology poetry
2006 winner Australian Bush Laureate Awards Book of the Year For the 2005 centenary edition edited by Graham Seal and Warren Fahey.
Last amended 14 Sep 2017 14:39:39
Influence on:
The Office Drover Valerie P. Read 2003 single work poetry
Waltzing with the Rogue Valerie P. Read 2003 single work poetry
The Man from Snowy River Beaumont Smith 1920 single work film/TV
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