Reprint: Australian Authors VII: Dulcie Deamer by Aidan de Brune

Dulcie Deamer has had an adventurous life. She was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1890, her father being a doctor.

She never went to school, her mother being her sole teacher. At the age of eight she was allowed the unrestricted run of her father's fine library, and she read the novels of Lord Lytton and Sir Walter Scott, abhorring -- as she confesses -- all "children's" books. Her hobbies were natural history and archaeology, and whatever books she wanted on these subjects were bought for her. From the very beginning, any information she could obtain concerning the Stone Age drew her like a magnet. She disliked dolls, adored animals, and preferred trees and flowers to the society of other children.

At eleven she began to write verses. A year later her family moved to Featherstone, a tiny bush township in the North Island, and here for five years she ran wild, riding unbroken colts, shooting, learning to swim in snow-fed creeks, and going for long, solitary rambles of explora- tion through the virgin bush. It was here in the thick scrub, where there was always the risk of encountering wild cattle or a wild boar, that what she describes as ''memories of the Stone Age" came to her. And so, when the newly-started 'Lone Hand" magazine startled Australasia by offering a prize of 25 pounds for the best short story submitted to it, Dulcie Deamer, then 16, sent along her first serious prose effort -- a story of the savage love of a cave-man.

It won -- and altered the whole course of her life.

For some years previously her parents had been training her for a stage career. This original idea was not abandoned. At 17 Dulcie Deamer was touring New Zealand with a little company playing melodrama in all the back-block townships. It was thus she met her future husband, Albert Goldie, who was at that time business manager for one of Williamson's companies.

A whirlwind courtship ended in a marriage in Perth, Western Australia -- the bride being not yet 18. Then came a tour of the Far East, with Hugh Ward's London Comedy Company, which her husband was then managing. Here all manner of adventures befell the young actress-authoress. A bomb was thrown into her carriage in the streets of Bombay, where anti-British rioting had broken out.

Luckily it failed to explode. She was caught in another riot in the Temple of Kali, in Calcutta, and only saved by the intervention of a Brahmin priest. A fat Bengalese millionaire, hung with necklaces of pearls the size of broad beans, nearly succeeded in trapping her into his harem, and in China she saw execution grounds littered with freshly severed heads.

These excitements provided material for
an Indian novel, which was published in New York, which city she visited when she was 21. In the meantime a book of her collected Stone Age stories had been published in Sydney, and three sons had been born to her.

In the following years she visited Lon
don, Paris, and Rome, and her family had increased to six. During a second visit to the United States she was involved in strike riots in the vicinity of Chicago, and had to run for her life from a couple of bayonet charges, when the military were called out, the strikers having turned the street cars loose under their own power, and started to wreck the suburb with torn up paving stones. Previously to this she had been booked to sail on the ill-fated Titanic, but had changed her plans at the last moment, and taken passage on the Olympic, sailing four day sooner. To gain experience on this voyage she travelled steerage with thirteen hundred imigrants from every European country.

She was again in America during the
Great War, and witnessed all the frenzies of Yankee excitement on Armistice Day.

Immediately after the war three of her
novels were published in London and New York-- "Revelation," "The Street of the Gazelle," and "The Devil's Saint." Her work is strongly coloured with imagination. "Revelation" and "The Street of the Gazelle" deal with Jerusalem in the time of Christ, "The Devil's Saint" is a mediaeval romance dealing with witch-craft and black magic.

Finally she returned to Sydney, which
she had for long regarded as "home." Here she settled down to journalism, but by no means had finished with adventures, one of which was a visit to the famous Homebush abattoirs, disguised as a man, for no woman is allowed to witness the actual killing.

During the last few years a de luxe
edition of her short stories ("As It Was in the Beginning") was published in Melbourne, with illustrations by Norman Lindsay, and a volume of her poems ("Messalina") has recently been brought out in Sydney. She has now turned her attention to play writing, her first play being produced last year. She hopes to contribute screen stories to the newly established Australian film industry. She has written a number of serials for Australian papers, and is now engaged in a new long novel, which will be published in Australia by the Endeavour Press towards the end of the year.

First published in The West Australian, 13 May 1933

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 19, 2010 7:35 AM.

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