Reprint: Death of Mrs. M. Forrest: Esteemed Authoress and Poetess

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Mrs. Mabel Forrest, the Queensland poetess and authoress, whose works have had appreciative recognition in and beyond Australia, died early yesterday morning.

Mrs. Forrest had experienced indifferent health for several years, but continued her prolific literary output without impairment of her grace of style and vigour of thought. Paralysis of the right arm supervened on a fracture of the shoulder, caused by an accident about 12 months ago, but she bore her suffering with fortitude and cheerfulness.

Mrs. Forrest's early life in the country and experience on stations, amid bush-bordered lands or on the plains, was reflected in much of her work. She was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Mills. Mr. Mills was well known on Darling Downs and South western grazing properties, including Marnhull and Callandoon. She was born near Yandilla, and she also lived in Goondiwindi and Dalby. Later she lived in Townsville and Charters Towers, amid the contrasting conditions of the North.


Most of Mrs. Forrest's books bore alliterative titles. Her first novel to be published in London, in 1924, was "The Wild Moth," later screened as "The Moth of Moonbi." It ran into three editions in London. Other novels were "Gaming Gods," "Hibiscus Heart," "Reaping Roses," "The Bachelor's Wife" (published in 1912, and the prelude to success in prose), "Carlotta," "The Scythe of Fate," "Topaz Eyes." Among her verse was "Alpha Centauri" and "The Rose of Forgiveness" (1909), "Streets and Gardens"' and "The Green Harper." Some of her books first appeared as serials and these, as well as short stories and verse, were accepted by many Australian and English newspapers and magazines.

Several of her short stories were translated into Dutch and published in Holland. She won 14 prizes in literary competitions. Her writing began in her seventh year. In her country home she scribbled her thoughts on backs of envelopes and any piece of paper at hand. While other children yearned for toys she begged Santa Claus to bring a "big book, full of blank paper." She even wrote on a white-washed chimney with a piece of charcoal.

So much of Mrs. Forrest's work was redolent of the bush and the open spaces, of the tribulations and the triumphs of the men on the pastures and the farms, of the spirit of the country, and there was such understanding and sympathy in her description of scene and incident, that she was often thought to be a man. The Society of Authors, inviting her to membership, addressed her as "M. Forrest, Esq." She had been mistaken for a mine manager and a cattle and a sheep station owner. A Frenchman of letters, Henri Corbiere, appreciating her "The Heroes," written in war time, wrote to her longing to "shake mon ami by the hand."

Many notable English poets and authors wrote to her in tribute to her work. She was a member of the Society of Authors (London), the Fellowship of Australian Writers, the Lyceum Club (London), and a life member of the Queensland Press Institute.

The remains were cremated at the Brisbane Crematorium yesterday afternoon.

First published in The Courier-Mail, 19 March 1935

[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 October 26, 2011 6:46 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #279 - Last Drinks by Andrew McGahan was the previous entry in this blog.

Great Australian Authors #52 - Mabel Forrest is the next entry in this blog.

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