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Lesbia Harford was born Lesbia Venner Keogh at Brighton, Victoria, in 1891. Born with a congenital heart defect and later suffering from tuberculosis, her activities were greatly restricted. Nevertheless, she studied law and philosophy at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1916. Harford had paid her way through university by coaching art classes. She continued this after graduation and also worked as a clerk and as a freelance social researcher. Despite her frailty she went to work in a clothing factory to better understand the lives of the women who worked there. This began a period of activity in union politics which inspired much of her poetry. At this time she met artist Patrick Harford and married him in 1920. Lesbia Harford was a prolific writer of lyrics, transcribing them into a number of notebooks, but she published little during her lifetime. She died in 1927. In 1941 Nettie Palmer selected and arranged seventy-four of Harford's lyrics for The Poems of Lesbia Harford. Drusilla Modjeska included an additional one hundred lyrics in her 1985 edition of Harford's poetry. A novel, The Invaluable Mystery, which had been recently discovered was published in 1987. This exploration of the repression of women during the internment of Germans in World War I complements similar explorations in Harford's poetry.