Letter by J. Le Gay Brereton to George Robertson 1916.10.23

Fisher Library
23 October 1916

Messrs Angus and Robertson
Dear Sirs,

Many thanks for Ginger Mick. What a deft artificer of verse Dennis is! Without straining he can give an air of quaint impressiveness to a platitude; and from a publisher's point of view, a man who can do that is a treasure beyond rubies. He can make the superficial and obvious attractive. His humour is the genuine thing, and he can deal a stab of pathos on occasion. Many a man will feel his heart throb applause as he reaches the conviction that justice is justice, and that love is love - amazing revelations to people with eyes from which the horn can only be blown by high explosives. One problem that Dennis suggests, without hinting at a solution, is this: If it takes a world war to make Ginger Mick realize the brotherhood of Australians, what hideous disaster is required to convince an ordinary patriot of the brotherhood of man?

The value of Mr Dennis's poems will increase with years, for when they are - as dialect compositions are apt to become - forlornly out of date, spectacled candidates for the Ph.D. degree in German universities will be compiling extensive dissertations on its vocabulary and syntax. And this reminds me to feel horribly shocked that, at a crisis like the present, when it is the duty of every Australian to refuse enemy goods of every description, Mr Dennis, taking cowardly cover behind his bad spelling, uses at least two pure German words - cliner (kleine), and keekin' (kieken).

I hope Ginger Mick will do as well as the Bloke and that author and publishers both make even more than they deserve.

Yours faithfully,
J. Le Gay Brereton

J. Le Gay Brereton was, at the time of this letter, librarian at Sydney University's Fisher Library which received copies of all Australian published books.

From Dear Robertson: Letters to an Australian Publisher edited by A.W. Barker.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002