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Ian Mudie (1911-1976)
Ian Mayelston Mudie was born in Hawthorn, South Australia on 1 March 1911.
He was educated at Scotch College, Adelaide (1920-26) and shortly after finishing his schooling, packed his swag, left his parents’ home and set off to Victoria on foot. His experiences on the road, including hitch-hiking, odd-jobbing for his keep, a bit of bludging when absolutely necessary, and swapping yarns with country people probably laid the foundations for some of his later iconic poems such as “They’ll Tell You About Me” but almost certainly initiated his love for the Australian ‘Bush’ and the Australian character. The pencilled letters he wrote home to his anxious parents, that describe some of these adventures, are part of the Mudie Collection held in the State Library of South Australia. He married Renee Doble in Adelaide in 1934 and they had two sons.
By March 1940 his famous poem “Corroboree to the Sun” was first published which prompted writer Xavier Herbert to proclaim Mudie as ‘the only Australian poet’ in his letter to Mudie dated 5 March 1940.
Through his links with P.R.Stephenson and W.J.Miles at the Publicist Publishing Company he became aware of the Australia First Movement. The aims and aspirations of this Movement clearly struck a chord with Mudie and so he became a member, but unfortunately the Movement had been seduced by anti-British sentiments so that by 1942 during the Second World War the terms ‘sedition’ and ‘treason’ were being used against the Movement. At this time Mudie ‘joined up’ and served in the Australian Army for the duration of the war. However his association with the Movement was surely an object of scrutiny to which he responded with a number of nationalistic poems among them “If This Be Treason”.
His concern for the Australian aborigines is another theme running through Mudie’s poetry and this also expressed itself when in 1941 he joined with others to form the Jindyworobak Poets.
After the War he received a fellowship from the Commonwealth Literary Fund to research and write about the paddle-steamers of the Murray and Darling rivers. He also edited the anthology “Poets at War” in 1944 and collaborated with Colin Thiele to edit “Australian Poets Speak” in 1961.
Mudie was chief editor at publishing house Rigby’s (1960-65) and organised the Writers’ Week at the Adelaide Festival of Arts from 1960 to 1972.
Ian Mudie died in London on 23 October 1976. He was cremated and his ashes were returned to Australia and scattered on the Murray River.