Banjo Paterson

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson
Banjo Paterson in 1890
Born February 17, 1864
Narambla, New South Wales, Australia
Died February 5, 1941(age 76)
Sydney, Australia
Occupation Author,
Spouse Alice Walker [1]

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson (February 17, 1864 – February 5, 1941) was a famous Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales where he spent much of his childhood. Paterson's more notable poems include "Waltzing Matilda", "The Man from Snowy River" and "Clancy of the Overflow".


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Works
  • 3 Legacy
  • 4 A Selected List of Banjo Paterson's Works
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Paterson was born at Narambla, near Orange, New South Wales, the eldest son of a Scottish immigrant from Lanarkshire on February 17, 1864. Paterson's family lived on the isolated Buckinbah Station until he was 5. When Paterson's uncle died, his family took over the uncle's farm in Illalong, near Yass. When Paterson turned 10 he was sent to school at Sydney Grammar School, performing well both as a student and a sportsman. Leaving school at 16, he took up the role of an articled clerk in a law firm and by the age of 23 Paterson was a fully qualified solicitor.

In 1885, Paterson began submitting and having his poetry published in the Sydney edition of The Bulletin under the pseudonym of "The Banjo", the name of a favourite horse. Paterson, like The Bulletin, was an ardent nationalist, and in 1889 published a pamphlet, Australia for the Australians which told of his disdain for cheap labour and his admiration of hard work and the nationalist spirit. In 1890, The Banjo wrote "The Man from Snowy River", a poem which caught the heart of the nation, and in 1895 had a collection of his works published under that name. This book is the most sold collection of Australian Bush poetry and is still being reprinted today. Banjo Paterson also became a journalist, lawyer, jockey, soldier and a farmer.

He would later become a war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald during the Second Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion and World War I.


One of his most famous poems is "Waltzing Matilda", which was set to music and became one of Australia's most famous songs. Others include "The Man from Snowy River", which (loosely) inspired a movie in 1982 and (even more loosely) inspired a TV series in the 1990s, and "Clancy of the Overflow", the tale of a Queensland "drover" (cattle handler responsible for herding large mobs of cattle long distances to market), amongst several others.

Paterson's poems mostly presented a highly romantic view of rural Australia. Paterson himself, like the majority of Australians, was city-based and was a practising lawyer. His work is often compared to the prose of Henry Lawson, a contemporary of Paterson's, including his work "The Drover's Wife", which presented a considerably less romantic view of the harshness of rural existence of the late 19th century.

Paterson authored two novels; An Outback Marriage (1906) and The Shearer's Colt (1936), wrote many short stories; Three Elephant Power and Other Stories (1917), and wrote a book based on his experiences as a war reporter; Happy Dispatches (1934). He also wrote a book for children The Animals Noah Forgot (1933)


Banjo Paterson's image appears on the (AUD - Australian Dollar) $10 note, along with an illustration inspired by "The Man From Snowy River" and, as part of the copy-protection microprint, the text of the poem itself.

Banjo Paterson's works are musically featured in a number of albums by the Australian group, Wallis and Matilda. The most noted album is called "The Pioneers".

A.B. Paterson College, at Arundel on the Gold Coast, Australia, is named after Banjo Paterson.

A Selected List of Banjo Paterson's Works

  • Clancy of the Overflow (1889)
  • The Man from Snowy River (1890)
  • In Defense of the Bush (1892)
  • Waltzing Matilda (1895)
  • T.Y.S.O.N. (1898)

See also

  • The Bulletin Debate
  • Serle, Percival (1949). "Paterson, Andrew Barton". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. 
  • Notes on Author: Andrew Barton Paterson
  • Australian Authors - A. B. ("Banjo") Paterson (1864-1941)
  • "Banjo" Paterson
  1. ^ The Verse of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson Australian Bush Poetry, Verse & Music; Accessed on June 6, 2007
  • AB 'Banjo' Paterson Biographical Summary - Reserve Bank of Australia website
  • Photos of Banjo Paterson memorial outside Orange NSW
  • Works by Banjo Paterson at Project Gutenberg
  • National Geographic Society magazine August 2004 article on "Banjo" Paterson
    • Family Tree
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