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H. C. McKay H. C. McKay i(A9491 works by) (a.k.a. Hugh McKay; Hugh Cleland McKay; H. McKay)
Also writes as: Wilhelm Blaubottel ; August Blowfly ; Barnabas Buzz ; Vair ; Augustus Blowfly ; Meriden ; Augustus-Hic-Blowfly ; Augustos Blowflyopoulos ; Anton Denning ; Rupert Gargoyle ; Augustus Blowflyopoulos ; Sir Rupert Gargoyle
Born: Established: 17 Jul 1878 St Kilda East, Caulfield - St Kilda area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 1962 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
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H. C. McKay studied medicine half-heartedly at Melbourne University in the 1890s, was apprenticed to a pharmacist in 1904 and finally passed the Victorian Pharmacy Board examination in 1913. Whilst at university, he contributed to the medical students' journal Speculum and was a member of the TMJ (Too Much Jesus) Society. During this time he became known in the bohemian circle which included E. J. Brady (later editor of Native Companion) and Leon Brodzky aka Spencer Brodney. His continued interest in astronomy and science manifested itself in his articles and science fiction stories published in the Lone Hand between 1908 and 1910. His short story 'At the Song of the Moon' predates Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian stories by some months. He also mentioned in a letter to E. J. Brady, dated 16 May 1911, his discovery of a successful method of coloured photography (E. J. Brady in All About Books 20 January, 1930 p.26).

McKay moved to Perth and worked as a pharmacist between 1915 and 1921, which coincides with a marked reduction in literary output. He returned to Sydney in 1921, where his poetry was included in Poetry in Australia 1923 (Sydney: Vision Press, 1923) and he associated with the 'Vision' group of writers. Despite this, he had little success with his submissions of serious verse to the Bulletin, becoming more noted for his light verse and his satirical and sci-fi short stories. During this period he devised a new form of verse, the 'reversolet', which reads like a palindrome - the same line by line, whether you start from the beginning or the end.

Peter Kirkpatrick in The Sea Coast of Bohemia: Literary Life in Sydney's Roaring Twenties (1992) describes an occasion when McKay begged an extra pencil and 'in the heat of inspiration...wrote down an entire poem: one hand starting at the first line of the first verse, the other from the last line of the last verse, both meeting in the middle of the completed work!' E. J. Brady noted in All About Books (20 January, 1930) that McKay could write backwards or forwards with both hands.

Although hired as the science writer for Smith's Weekly, McKay, as a poet, was expected to produce verse for special events such as Bert Hinklers' successful solo flight from England, for which he produced 'Song of Bundaberg' (Smith's Weekly 3 March, 1928 p.10). He later joined the Daily Telegraph but returned to Smith's Weekly staying until it folded in 1950, and continued to write for newspapers into his late seventies.

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Last amended 2 Jun 2014 09:49:10
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