C.J. Dennis

C. J. Dennis grew up in country South Australia in the late nineteenth century, and it was this landscape that inspired him when he wrote about the tough, laconic folk of the Australian bush. His full name was Clarence James Stanislaus Dennis, but to his friends he was known as “Clarrie” or “Den”. He is best known today as C. J. Dennis. Dennis started writing at an early age and while studying at Gladstone Primary School, he edited all three issues of the Weary Weekly. Dennis moved around a lot in his life – for a while he even lived in a tent, and then later in an old tramway bus, at Kallista, outside Melbourne, where he wrote much of his famous book The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. Over his lifetime, Dennis had over 4000 pieces of prose and poetry published. By 1917, he had become the richest poet in Australia. In 1931 he wrote the poem “A Bush Christmas”, where he turned the traditional snow-and-holly idea of Christmas upside down to make it authentically Australian. He also wrote and illustrated A Book For Kids. His wife later said, “I never knew Den more happy than when he was doing A Book for Kids.” He dedicated it to “good children over four and under four-and-eighty”.