John Shaw Neilson (1872–1942) received very little schooling, yet became one of the foremost poets of his generation. Published seventy years after Neilson’s death, Collected Verse of John Shaw Neilson is a testament to Australia’s literary heritage.
Born at Penola, South Australia, Neilson spent most of his working life as a labourer. He won a national poetry prize in 1893 and contributed to various publications as a young man. His first book of verse, Heart of Spring, was published in 1919; followed in 1923 by Ballad and Lyrical Poems; in 1927 by New Poems, and in 1934 by Collected Poems. His last book, Beauty Imposes, published in 1938, led Robert FitzGerald to remark that ‘no other Australian poet has Neilson’s skill with words and rhythms’.
One of the first post-Federation Australian poets alongside Christopher Brennan and Mary Gilmore, John Shaw Neilson's legacy of a lifetime's work is perhaps more compelling today than ever before.
Praise for Collected Verse of John Shaw Neilson:
There is so much here that lingers on the palate. Neilson is one of the most noble and inspiring souls to have scratched a living in the history of Australian writing. My advice is to hide pages of this book about the home and, even more, about the office. Let them surprise you one by one.THE AGE
Margaret Roberts and UWA Publishing are to be applauded for their essential work in ensuring that local poetry remains archived and in print. Roberts has applied a thorough and thoughtful shape to Neilson’s sprawling colonial and post-Federation oeuvre.SOUTHERLY JOURNAL
To my mind, Neilson was that rare thing: a natural poet with an intuitive gift for lyricism, which he fashioned into a conversation with the imagination of anyone prepared to listen.THE AUSTRALIAN
Neilson at his best stands unsurpassed in modern English-speaking poetry, and he can take his rightful place in company with the finest lyricists of all English literature.TOM INGLIS MOORE
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