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Tasmanian writer and poet Barney Roberts was mainly educated by his mother who was a classical scholar and had run her own school in Victoria. His father was a farmer known for his quotations from Ruskin, Wells and Emerson. Roberts went to high school in Burnie and worked as a bank clerk for three years before World War 2. Captured in Greece in 1941, he was a prisoner of war for four years, during which time he cut trees in Austria. At this time he also wrote, as he described, 'doggerel verse and several bad plays' (Directory of Australian Poets, 1980).
When he returned to Australia in 1947, he set up a dairy farm near Flowerdale living there until his death. These experiences provided a background to his activities as a conservationist, and a trustee and president of the Tasmanian Peace Trust. Roberts also had a nursery which was managed by two of his sons, Max and Bruce (q.v.), after he retired. He did a writing course in the 1960s, writing a history of his town, Flowerdale to 1963 (1963), and had his first fiction published in 1972 with three of his entries in the FAW/Advocate Story Competition. He contributed to many magazines (Patterns, Overland, The Bulletin, Inprint, Walkabout, Mattoid etc) and newspapers (Canberra Times, Courier Mail, Advocate (Burnie), Mercury (Hobart)). Roberts was awarded an Honorary DLitt by the University of Tasmania in 2005. He also ran the publishing business 'Robin Books'.
Pete Hay (q.v.) in Tasmania Forty Degrees South (2006, Winter) said: 'He was Tasmania's own farmer-poet - our equivalent, if you like, of Robert Frost. He was a peerless writer of place and nature'.