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Mary E. Fullerton (1868 – 1946)

Mary Eliza Fullerton was born on 14 May 1868 on her parents' isolated selection at Glenmaggie, in the North Gippsland region of Victoria. Fullerton and her numerous siblings grew up in a bark hut built by their father. This bush upbringing had an enormous effect on Fullerton's life, and was a theme she often returned to in her writing.

Largely self-educated, in the 1890s Fullerton began submitting stories and poems to periodicals such as the Bulletin and the Australian Town and Country Journal. By the late 1890s, Fullerton was living in Melbourne, where she became active in the suffrage movement and also wrote for socialist and feminist publications. By the time of her first book publication, a volume of poems entitled Moods and Melodies (1908), Fullerton was a prolific contributor of stories, verse and articles to a variety of newspapers and magazines. Much of Fullerton's poetry was originally published under the pseudonym 'E' , and she was known to have used a variety of other pseudonyms and initialisms.

In 1922, Fullerton moved to England to live with Mabel Singleton, whom she had met through the Women's Political Association in 1909, and they remained together until Fullerton's death in 1946. After moving to England, Fullerton met another expatriate Australian writer, Miles Franklin, with whom she maintained a correspondence and sometime collaboration lasting over twenty years. After Fullerton's death Franklin revealed her as the poet ‘E’, describing her friend as ‘sensitive, fastidious, reticent, self-mastered’. Aside from her four published volumes of poetry, Fullerton was also the author a number of novels (of which several were published pseudonymously), and non-fiction works such as The Australian Bush (1928) and the autobiographical Bark House Days (1921).

Poetry Collections
  • Moods and Melodies: sonnets and lyrics Melbourne Lothian 1908
  • The Breaking Furrow: verses Melbourne Sydney J. Endacott 1921
  • Moles Do So Little With Their Privacy: poems Sydney Angus and Robertson 1942
  • The Wonder and the Apple: more poems Sydney Angus and Robertson 1946
Suggested Further Reading
  • Joy Hooton 'Mary Fullerton: Pioneering Feminist' in                 The Time To Write: Australian Women Writers 1890-1930 Kay Ferris ed. (Ringwood, Victoria Penguin 1993) pp. 38-53
  • Sylvia Martin Passionate Friends: Mary Fullerton, Mabel Singleton, and Miles Franklin( London Onlywomen 2001)