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E. J. Brady (1869 – 1952)

Edwin James Brady was born on 7 August 1869 at Carcoar, near Bathurst, New South Wales, the son of Irish immigrants Edwin John Brady, a police constable, and his wife Hannah (ne Kenny). Brady began his schooling at Oberon, on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, but in 1881 the family moved to Washington D. C. in the United States, where Bradys father had lived for a time after leaving Ireland. They returned to Australia the following year, however, and settled in Sydney, where Brady resumed his schooling. He matriculated to the University of Sydney, but seems to have attended only a few classes and did not complete a degree.

In the late 1880s, Brady worked as a clerk on the Sydney wharves. His experiences there are thought to have fostered two important interests that would later emerge as themes in his writing: an interest in life at sea, and a commitment to labour politics. After being dismissed from his position during the maritime strikes of 1890, Brady became increasingly active in the union movement, and through the 1890s he worked as a journalist and editor for a number of socialist newspapers. From 1900 to 1903, Brady was a part-proprietor and editor of the Grafton Grip (newspaper), after which he returned to Sydney to set up the Commonwealth Press Agency. In 1906, Brady moved his agency Melbourne, where he also edited the short-lived literary journal The Native Companion. After a trip to South-East Asia in 1912, he returned to live in Mallacoota, in the East Gippsland region of Victoria. For the rest of his life, Brady lived in Mallacoota and Melbourne, dividing his time between writing, journalism and various business schemes. Brady died in hospital in Pambula, New South Wales, on 22 July 1952.

Brady began contributing poems to Sydney newspapers in the early 1890s. Much of his work was published in the Bulletin, an important forum for Australian writers of the 1890s, and in 1899 the Bulletin Company published Bradys first collection of poetry, The Ways of Many Waters. Bradys poems were heavily influenced by the highly popular Bush Ballad verse style. Thematically, Bradys poems tended to deal with sea-life rather than life in the bush, though while the settings may have differed, Bradys sea ballads still displayed the same focus on narrative, and recording the slang idioms of the common man, found in the bush ballads.

Poetry Collections
  • The Ways of Many Waters Sydney Bulletin Newspaper Company 1899
  • The Earthen Floor Grafton Grip Newspaper Company 1902
  • Bush-land Ballads Melbourne Lothian 1910
  • Bells and Hobbles Melbourne George Robertson 1911
  • The House of the Winds London Harrap 1919
  • Wardens of the Seas: poems Sydney Endeavour Press 1933
Suggested Further Reading
  • Mendelsohn, Oscar One Mans View of E. J. BradySoutherly vol. 15, no. 1 1954 pp. 5861
  • Webb, John B. Brady, Edwin James (1869-1952)Australian Dictionary of Biography