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Emily Matilda Manning (1845 – 1890)

Emily Matilda Manning was born in Sydney on 13 May 1845, the daughter of William Manning, a prominent judge and parliamentarian, and his wife Emily Anne (née Wise). She was educated at a private school in Sydney, and enjoyed a privileged upbringing, with the family mixing in the colony's highest social circles. Emily's interest in literature was encouraged by John Woolley, Professor of Classics at the recently established University of Sydney, though as a woman she was not permitted to attend the University itself.

In the mid-1860s, Emily Manning went to London, where she worked as a journalist and writer for English periodicals. Returning to New South Wales in the early 1870s, she became a regular contributor to various Sydney newspapers and periodicals. As well as pursuing a journalistic career, Emily began publishing her poetry in the press about this time, with her poems generally appearing under the pseudonym ‘Australie’.

In 1873, she married Henry Heron, a Sydney solicitor. The couple would have seven children, but still Emily managed to maintain a career as a journalist and author. Her only collection of poetry, The Balance of Pain and other poems, was published in 1877 under her pseudonym ‘Australie’. This volume, which was critically well-received, highlighted Manning's range and versatility as a poet; the title work was a long narrative poem employing a variety of verse forms, and the collection also included hymns, a dramatic cantata, and descriptive poetry.

From the early 1880s, Henry Heron began experiencing financial difficulties, and Emily became more active in journalism, probably in order to supplement the family income. Her work was highly regarded, and before her premature death Emily worked as a leader writer and associate editor for Sydney newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald and the Illustrated Sydney News. She died of pneumonia on 25 August 1890.

Poetry Collections
  • The Balance of Pain and other poems London George Bell and Sons 1877
Suggested Further Reading
  • Patricia Clarke Pen Portraits: Women Writers and Journalists in Nineteenth Century Australia North Sydney Allen and Unwin 1988 pp. 113-16.
  • Elizabeth Webby '"Born to Blush Unseen": Some Nineteenth-century Australian Women Poets', in  A Bright and Fiery Troop: Australian Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century Debra Adelaide, ed. ( Ringwood, Victoria Penguin 1988), pp. 41-52.