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Gertrude Scarlett Gertrude Scarlett i(A106543 works by) (birth name: Gertrude Alice Peir)
Born: Established: 29 Nov 1886 Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 1970 St Leonards, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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Gertrude Scarlett married Robert Dalley-Scarlett, a prominent Australian musician, at Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney, on 8 September 1909 . In 1912 they moved to Grafton where Dalley-Scarlett became organist and choral conductor to the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral . When Dalley-Scarlett moved to Brisbane in 1919 as organist at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Gertrude Scarlett remained in Grafton. In 1925 she moved to Sydney with her two sons. The marriage was dissolved on 3 March 1930.

To earn a living to support her two sons, Scarlett turned to writing. Nancy Keesing comments: 'She had a very observant eye, a good ear, a sense of beauty, a sense of humour and no literary snobbery at all, so she began to write anything and everything saleable. The Bulletin and the Woman's Mirror and other journals used to publish vast quantities of contributed 'pars' at rates varying from 1d to 2d a line as well as sketches, short stories and other material. Scarlett, using a galaxy of pseudonyms, wrote pars about anything and everything from natural history, humorous incidents seen or overheard, recipes, household hints, child care and gardening. She sent some fifty paragraphs to magazines every week'. Keesing goes on to observe: 'For a range of magazines she also wrote short stories varying from "true love" to adventure. She wrote a good deal for early radio; lyrics for one of the community singing groups popular in the depression; and a few book reviews.'

Keesing met Gertrude Scarlett at the Sydney Short Story Club in 1941 where Scarlett was one of four 'experts' who appraised literary contributions by the members. Keesing comments that 'After a year or so the only opinion I really valued was Gertrude Scarlett's...She was a kind, but toughly honest, critic of my work as a rule and I was glad of that....It was Scarlett who lent me Christina Stead's Seven Poor Men of Sydney long before she was well-known in her own country,...And it was Scarlett who directed me to all kinds of books from all over the world that I would not otherwise have heard of.'

Keesing remembers Scarlett as 'a pretty, plump woman with lots of laughter lines wrinkling a face made alert and expressive by bright brown eyes. Her voice was breathy and pleasantly Australian. She was immensely proud of her two sons, and their families.' Her freelance writing paid for their upbringing. Unfortunately, at Scarlett's request, Keesing burnt a huge volume of correspondence from Scarlett spanning decades.

(Source: Nancy Keesing Riding the Elephant (1988): Peter Roennnfeldt, 'Dalley-Scarlett, Robert (1887-1959), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, MUP, (1981): 197-199)

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Last amended 17 Apr 2012 16:56:37
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