Banjo Paterson: The Poet and Lawyer
Hello, my name is Bronwyn and I'm Assistant-Curator of Manuscripts here at the National Library of Australia.
Today we're in the manuscripts work area to take a sneak peek at a collection of papers we've recently acquired, the Banjo Paterson collection.
Before he was a well-known writer, Paterson was a lawyer and he worked in Sydney. He even partnered in a law firm.
No amount of focus on his legal career however could keep Paterson from putting pen to paper and writing creatively. As can be seen in this next item I've chosen.
An item in the collection that really left an impact on me was this 1892 legal journal.
When we unpacked the collection here at the Library, I wasn't surprised to see this journal because I knew Paterson practiced as a solicitor.
But what did surprise me when I opened the journal was to see so many examples of drafts of his poems.
They really really show Paterson's drafting processes. It's full of editorial amendments.
They're written in his hand. There's some with lines through them and I think you get a real feel for how Paterson worked on his poems.
There's a great example here in the book where he's actually written a poem and put lines down through it.
There's another example where pages have actually been ripped out. One can't help but think was that a frustrated Paterson when he was doing this work.
When I came across Waltzing Matilda in this legal journal that was a real WOW moment for me. It's written in Paterson's hand and he's crossed out 'You'll come a waltzing Australia with me' and put 'waltzing Matilda with me'.
Another part of the journal that really captivated me was the prelude to The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses. It reads,
'I have gathered these stories afar.
In the wind and in the rain
In the land where the cattle camps are.
On the edge of the plain.'
Like the Waltzing Matilda piece that really really captivated me.
But what I love about this journal is that it shows the two sides to Paterson.
You see a legal journal, you know he was a solicitor, but you also see the creative poet in this book and I can't help but wonder whether there were times in between clients or perhaps even at lunch times where he may even be writing some of his poetry.
My name is Conor. I'm the Director of Philanthropy at the National Library of Australia.
The Banjo Paterson collection is one of the treasures of the National Library's collection.
We want to share that with everybody in Australia.
To support our appeal to digitise the papers of Banjo Paterson, please visit our website at www.nla.gov.au
Discover the legal journal from our Banjo Paterson collection that gave Assistant-Curator of Manuscripts, Bronwyn Ryan, quite a surprise!
Before being known as a writer, Banjo Paterson worked as a lawyer in Sydney for many years. No amount of focus on a legal career could keep Paterson from putting pen to paper in more creative ways though.
The National Library of Australia is proud to be the custodian of the papers of A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson (1864-1941).
Collection material featured in this video: