AustLit logo
Jim Grahame Jim Grahame i(A7468 works by) (birth name: James William Gordon) (a.k.a. Jim Gordon; J. W. Gordon; Poor Hawk)
Born: Established: 23 Oct 1874 Creswick, Creswick area, Creswick - Daylesford area, Ballarat - Bendigo area, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 12 Aug 1949 Leeton, Leeton area, Leeton - Narrandera area, Riverina - Murray area, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


James William Gordon's father was John Gordon, a station manager who was the son of a Glasgow wine and spirit merchant. After his education at the Public School in Balmoral, Victoria, James Gordon spent the next twenty years working variously in the eastern states as jackeroo, horsebreaker, bullock driver, opal miner and drover. He then became a station manager on the Darling River, New South Wales. He married Celia, the daughter of John McIntyre, a grazier, in 1902 . The couple had two sons and three daughters and settled in the Yanco Irrigation Area, New South Wales in 1912 where Gordon was attached to the government field staff as an inspector of orchards, doing his rounds by horse and sulky.

Gordon met Henry Lawson at Bourke in 1892, the year when Lawson said he wrote his best. The two poets renewed their friendship in 1916 and when Lawson went to live at Leeton in 1917 he persuaded Gordon to adopt a different writing name to 'Poor Hawk'. According to an article, 'Poet of the Bush: 80,000 Miles in a "Literary Sulky"' written in 1939 by 'W.J.' [probably Walter Jago, editor of the Lone Hand 1919-1921], Lawson said to Gordon: 'Your poetry is too good for a pen name. Besides, people like to think that one of their favourite poets is a real flesh and blood character with a proper handle to his mug. Cut out the pen name and call yourself "Jim Grahame". It's got a good brothy twist in it, and it isn't so far removed from your own name anyway.' After Lawson published a story in which 'James Grahame' figured as the main character the new name was accepted. In his story Lawson wrote: 'My mate, James Grahame, has a long scraggy neck like mine.'

Gordon had commenced freelance journalism about 1900, with his first verses published in the Sydney Christmas Bulletin in 1902. A.G. Stephens has said that Gordon 'writes in vigorous rhythms what bushmen think and feel and his epithets are as vivid and clear as sunlight.' E. Morris-Miller described him as 'a bush balladist of merit'.

His papers in the State Library of New South Wales include Gordon's correspondence with Mary Gilmore, 1916-1942; Walter Jago, 1929-1941; Bertha Lawson, 1931-1943; and J. K. Moir, 1944-1946. In his contribution to Lawson by his Mates (1931) Gordon described his friendship with Lawson and included a memorial poem, 'The Bush Mourns', which has been printed separately as a souvenir.

Most Referenced Works

Last amended 10 Aug 2012 06:35:23
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: