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David McKee Wright was born at Ballynaskeagh, in County Down, Ireland, the son of Rev. William Wright, a Presbyterian minister and well-known author. The younger Wright attended Dulwich College, but emigrated to Sydney for health reasons before travelling on to New Zealand in 1887. He spent some years in the Otago back country, working on stations, and began to write about his experiences in 1890, publishing the first examples of his verse in the Otago Witness. He published several volumes of poetry while studying at Otago University and won university distinctions, including the Stuart Memorial Prize for the poem 'Queen Victoria, 1837-1897'.
Wright studied for the Presbyterian ministry, but joined the Congregational Church in order to marry. He was a minister at several churches in New Zealand but he resigned in 1905 due to his unpopular support of state control in the liquor trade.
He then devoted himself to literary work and began his long career in journalism. After working for some time on the staff of the New Zealand Mail, he moved to Sydney in 1909 where he began work for the Bulletin. He succeeded Arthur H. Adams as editor of the Bulletin's 'Red Page' and worked in that position until his death from heart disease in 1928. A prolific writer of verse, he has more than one thousand five hundred poems listed on AustLit, most of these published in the Bulletin.
Strongly influenced by Irish history and legend, Wright's most significant collection of verse, An Irish Heart, was published in 1918. However, his reputation may have suffered through well-known clashes with Hugh McCrae and Norman Lindsay over their interpretations of classical art and literature. After his death, Zora Cross, his partner for several years, entered his novel 'Julian the Apostate' in the Bulletin story competition, where it received a commendation. The novel was serialised in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1930, but it was never published in book form.