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Grace Ethel Martyr was the daughter of James Kent and Grace Flora Martyr. She grew up in Maldon, in central Victoria, a town for which she never lost her affection, although she spent much of her working life in Bendigo. She was employed by the Bank of New South Wales for four and a half years, but left this position due to ill-health. While working at the bank she published a collection of patriotic poems, Afterwards and Other Verses (1918), which she dedicated to her parents, but she did not begin to write seriously until she had left the bank.
Martyr wrote children's poetry and fiction, such as 'Four Little Girls', which was serialised in The Australasianbut her principal literary output is the poetry she published in The Bulletin and The Australian Woman's Mirror. As well as her writing, Martyr worked for The Bendigo Advertiser, where she edited the women's columns and the children's page as well as acting as the Bendigo social correspondent for several Melbourne publications. She also worked with the Melbourne pianist William James, writing stories and verses for the 3LO children's hour, with James setting the verse to music.
In 1920 she came second to the poet David McKee Wright in the Rupert Brooke Award, run by the Presbyterian Ladies College for poems on Gallipoli. Martyr was close to her parents and, like them, is buried in the Maldon cemetery.