"The sentimental bloke and his Doreen, Ginger Mick and Rose, Digger Smith and the many other larrikins, lasses, soldiers
and settlers that people the verse stories of C.J. Dennis won the hearts of fellow Australians when first they appeared
early this century. Such is the humanity to be found in their lives and the wisdom and humour in the teeling of their
stories that they continue to cast their spell.
"Yet, while best known for The Sentimental Bloke and other vernacular verse tales, Dennis also wrote many a salty
bush ballad, the lilting fantasy that is The Glugs of Gosh, a collection of merry verses for children and, in later
years, a weekly verse for the Melbourne Herald. This collection is a sampler including something from each,
presented with many of the sensitive illustrations Hal Gye prepared for the original editions.
"Few who turn these pages will fail to respond with joy to the robust humour and human-hearted tenderness that light
Dennis's work and are his great contribution to Australian writing."
THE SONGS OF A SENTIMENTAL BLOKE
A Spring Song
The Stoush o'Day
The Mooch o' Life
THE MOODS OF GINGER MICK
Duck an' Fowl
The Call of Stoush
In Spadger's Lane
A Letter to the Front
"A Gallant Gentleman
ROSE OF SPADGERS
The Faltering Knight
A Holy War
"'Ave a 'Eart!
The Knight's Return
A Woman's Way
Before the War
Over the Fence
A Digger's Tale
Half a Man
THE GLUGS OF GOSH
The Glug Quest
Joi, the Glug
The Stones of Gosh
The Little Red Dog
JIM OF THE HILLS
A Morning Song
A Freak of Spring
The Ant Explorer
A Change of Air
Going to School
BACKBLOCK BALLADS AND LATER VERSES
An Old Master
A Guide for Poits
The Silent Member
The Bridge Across the Crick
A Song of Rain
Hymn of Futility
THE SINGING GARDEN
The Indian Myna
The Pallid Cuckoo
The Ground Thrush
The Yellow Robin
JOURNALIST DAYS (A selection of poems from the Melbourne Herald)
Show Thoughts from the Bush
The Happy Man
Our Town Awakes
First Paragraph from the Introduction:
The Australian poet C. J. Dennis was at times very vague about his early background. Even his friend
and biographer, Alec Chisholm, admitted to being confused when he tried to establish the truth
about Dennis's childhood and youth. Chisholm's book, C. J. Dennis - His Remarkable Career, first
published in 1946, notes the gaps in Dennis's life story which occur primarily in his teenage years
and in his early twenties. Dennis was vague about these periods himself, even with his friends. When
he was in his mid-thirties he told his mentor and friend, Robert Croll, a man of letters and author
of several books, that he did not know the year of his birth. Dennis's biographical note which he
gave to Croll in 1913 says, "Born in Auburn, SA, some time in late seventies - don't know exact
year, say '77 or '78 . . . " He was actually born in 1876, on 7 September, to James Dennis and his
second wife Katherine, and was baptised three days later as Clarence Michael James.
As Clarence Michael grew to maturity, he styled his name differently, dropping his given middle
name altogether until eventually he was known as "C. J. Dennis" or in his later years, somewhat
allectionately, as "Den".
A second son, Francis Albert (known as Bert), was born into the Dennis family in 1880 and, after
a gap of six years, their third and final child, Claude Leo, arrived.
The death of Kate Dennis when she was thirty-seven years old caused a major upheaval in the
family. She died in Adelaide on 16 August 1890 and was buried there in the West Terrace Cemetery.
At this time Clarrie was a fourteen-year-old adolescent, Bert was ten and young Claude just four
and a half. Their father was himself fifty-four and now fully occupied in running the Gladstone Hotel
at Gladstone and hardly keen to tend to the upbringing of his growing family. A quick solution
to this situation became imperative.
Two spinster sisters of the late Kate Dennis came to the family's rescue. Mary Arm and Sarah
Tobin moved into the Dennis establishment and provided the comfort and direction their three
Dennis nephews needed.
The sisters brought to their task some quaint attitudes of gentility which now seem to be at odds
with the hotel environment into which their charges had been born. The aunts pampered the lads
and dressed them in starched suits and patent leather shoes, setting them apart from their mates by
being over-protective, strict and decidedly old-fashioned.
Due to his Little Lord Fauntleroy appearance, young Clarrie became subjected to much teasing
and ridicule from other young men of his age. At school Clarrie Dennis had mostly played with the
girls and was considered to be effeminate.
It has since been propounded by Chisholm and others that the "tough guys" in C, J. Dennis's
subsequent literary career were created as deliberate contrasts to the "lavender and lace" of his
From the Angus and Robertson hardback edition, 1988.