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Lala Fisher Lala Fisher i(A26431 works by) (birth name: Mary Lucy Richardson) (a.k.a. Mary Lucy Fisher; Mrs Francis George Fisher)
Also writes as: Lala
Born: Established: 27 Jan 1872 Rockhampton, Rockhampton - Yeppoon area, Maryborough - Rockhampton area, Queensland, ; Died: Ceased: 27 Feb 1929 Gladesville, Ryde - Gladesville - Hunters Hill area, Northwest Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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Mary Lucy (Lala) Fisher was the elder daughter in a family of two daughters and six sons. Her mother, Lucy Knox, was the sister of mining entrepreneur, William Knox D'Arcy, and her father was Archibald John Richardson, Government Surveyor for the Rockhampton district and official geographer to the 1864 Jardine expedition to Cape York. He was subsequently appointed Land Commissioner for the Port Curtis and Leichhardt districts and it was during this appointment that he discovered sapphires at Anakie, 320 kms west of Rockhampton.

The young Lala was a free-spirited girl who played cricket with her brothers and shocked the locals when she crossed the Fitzroy river bridge on a Chinese grocer's cart. She attended Rockhampton Girls' Grammar School. Fisher went to England around 1892, returning in 1893, after which she married Francis (Frank) George Fisher, her father's assistant. In 1897 the couple left for England with their two young sons. They took a quantity of sapphires with them with the intention of floating a company in London, but the venture failed largely due, as Lala wrote in 1905, to an error of judgement on Frank's part.

While in England the multi-talented Fisher won recognition as a writer, songwriter, lecturer and long-distance swimmer. She published a book of verse, A Twilight Teaching (1898) and edited By Creek and Gully (1899), an anthology of prose and verse by expatriate Australian writers. Fisher's poetry in this anthology speaks of nostalgia for Australia, but her short stories present a harsher view of Australian bush life. Fisher was also a member of the the Writers' Club, a fellow of the Anthropological Society of London, president for Queensland in the International Congress of Women, and was presented to Queen Victoria at Windsor.

The Fishers returned to Australia in 1901. Temporarily estranged from Frank, Lala lived in Charters Towers, Rockhampton and Brisbane. She wrote for for various newspapers, including Steele Rudd's Magazine and the radical The Eagle, edited by Frank Hill. In 1905 Fisher published 'Queensland Gems' in Steele Rudd's Magazine, which was published as a book the following year.

The family moved to Sydney in 1906. To relieve their financial difficulties, Fisher worked as a canvasser for Colonial Mutual Life Assurance and secured a position as a housekeeper in a Blue Mountains hotel. Her sons returned to live with their grandfather's family in Rockhampton, then travelled to England with their cousins in 1911 for technical training. Both served in World War I.

In 1909 Fisher bought the Theatre Magazine and Frank Hill became a partner in 1912. Fisher appears to have continued editing the magazine until 1918. From 1894 or earlier, Fisher had corresponded with A. G. Stephens seeking advice on her poetry. As proprietor of Theatre Magazine she was able, in 1917, to offer him a page in the magazine. Fisher suffered emotional problems from 1920 and in 1922 she wrote to Stephens that she had been unable to work for two years and that her husband insisted she was mentally ill. The magazine was sold in 1923 and Fisher was admitted to Gladesville Mental Hospital somewhere around this time. She died there of a heart attack some six years later.

Fisher was a founding member of the Society of Women Writers, established in Sydney in 1925.

Most Referenced Works


  • J. H. Hornibrook, Bibliography of Queensland Verse with Biographical Notes (1953) erroneously lists Lala Fisher's birth and death details as: Born 21 July 1872; died 20 March 1929.
  • The Bibliography of Australian Literature F-J (2004) lists Fisher's birth and death details in accordance with Hornibrook.
  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Mary Lucy (Lala) Fisher, (1872-1929), from which much of this biography is sourced.
Last amended 4 Dec 2013 15:44:34
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