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Fullerton, Mary Eliza (1868–1946)

Fullerton, Mary Eliza (1868–1946)

Australian poet, author, and socialist. Name variations: (pseudonyms) Alpenstock and Austeal; (pseudonym) "E". Born Mary Elizabeth Fullerton on May 14, 1868, at Glenmaggie, Victoria, Australia; died on February 23, 1946; one of seven children of Robert (a farmer) and Eliza (Leathers) Fullerton; attended local state school; never married; lived with Mabel Singleton; no children.

Selected writings:

Moods and Melodies (poetry, 1908); The Breaking Furrow (poetry, 1921); Bark House Days (childhood reminiscences, 1921); Two Women (novel, 1923); The People of the Timber Belt (novel, 1925); A Juno of the Bush (novel, 1930); The Australian Bush (a descriptive work, 1928); Moles Do So Little With Their Privacy (poetry, 1942); The Wonder and the Apple (poetry, 1946).

Australian writer Mary Eliza Fullerton was an avid reader and independent thinker at an early age. Born in a bark house built by her father and largely self-educated, she was raised in a Scots-Presbyterian community but was later critical of religion, calling herself "a medley of beliefs." In the late 1890s, she became active in the suffrage movement, an interest ignited in her childhood when her mother was denied the vote. "I felt that somehow … my mother was slighted and, at large, women," she wrote. Later, she joined the Victorian Socialist Party and the Women's Political Association. During World War I, she became a member of Women Against War.

A self-described loner who never married, Fullerton made a living writing articles, stories, and poems for newspapers, often using the pseudonyms Alpenstock and Austeal. Her first collection of poems, Moods and Melodies, was published in 1908. From 1922, Fullerton lived in England, where she met and befriended writer Miles Franklin , who arranged to have her poetry published during the 1940s. Fullerton won a prize for Two Women (1923), one of only three novels she wrote under her own name. Her use of the pseudonym "E," under which her later poetry was published, was said to be linked to her sensitivity about her lack of formal education and her belief in sex bias in publishing. Her true identity was the subject of much speculation in literary circles and was only revealed after her death in 1946.


Wilde, William H., Joy Horton, and Barry Andrews, ed. Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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