Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dame Mary Gilmore and a bomb plot

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

1865 Mary Gilmore (born Mary Jean Cameron; later, Dame Mary Gilmore; d. December 3, 1962), Australian poet, utopian socialist, Communist, close friend of leading Australian socialist William Lane and fellow poet Henry Lawson. Gilmore was the first woman member of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and member of its executive. She is the woman on the $10 note.

Lawson once asked her to marry him but she gave him a "no", noting in her diary "a curious immaturity" in him – like a "sappy twig".

When Lane led several hundred (figures vary according to source) Australians on the Royal Tar to Paraguay to form a utopian community, first New Australia and then Cosme when they abandoned the former, Gilmore was the colony's schoolteacher and 'newspaper' editor (the paper was read out daily to the colonists). After her return to Australia some six years later (she and her husband were among the first to leave Cosme, disillusioned), she continued to write poetry and became active in campaigns for the aged and under-privileged ...

In her old age she told the National Times, May 6 - 11, 1974 of an unsuccessful attempt of Larry Petrie's to blow up Circular Quay, the main dock area of Sydney. No date is given, but it’s probably 1892.

Petrie had left a bomb in a drain at the Quay, and some of his associates decided to remove it. While Mary Cameron (as she was before marrying William Gilmore) watched out for police, with great trepidation the diminutive Member of NSW Parliament Arthur Rae (1860 - 1943) crawled up the drain and removed the bomb, having volunteered to do so because at 5 feet tall he was the smallest person in the clandestine operation. Rae was Vice President of the AWU and one of the founders of the Australian Labor Party. In 1891 he was one of the first 36 Labor members elected to Parliament; he was later a Senator in the Australian Parliament ( 1910 - '14, 1918 - '35). Alongside Artie Rae and Mary at this extraordinary occurrence was Chris Watson (1867 - 1941), third Prime Minister of Australia and the first Labor PM (1904) ...

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