Born on 18th April 1839 at Kirmington on the south coast of N.S.W., Henry
Kendall was the son of a small farmer who moved north with his family to the
Clarence River district. He was thirteen when his father died in 1851 and
his mother took her children back to the south coast to live near
In 1855 as a cabin boy, he went to the South Seas on a whaling
brig owned by an uncle. Two years later he was breadwinner for the family in
Sydney: an errand boy, shop assistant, solicitor's clerk (at Grafton),
He married in 1868, and went to Melbourne in 1869, hoping to make a
living by writing; but here he failed, as he did when he returned to Sydney
in 1870, a victim of povery and drink.
He was in desperate straits in 1873 when the timber merchants, George and Michael Fagan, took charge of him and cared for him until he was well enough to be employed as a storekeeper in their timber business at Camden Havan, near Port Macquarie (N.S.W.).
His wife and two sons (they had been living apart) rejoined him here in 1876 and another son and a daughter were born.
When Kendall was appointed Inspector of Forests, at Cundletown on the Manning River, the travelling this involved proved too much for him and he died of tuberculosis on 1st August 1882.
While acknowledging his faults, T.Inglis Moore said of him: "He had a gift
of song and remains one of the sweetest of our singers." (p. 301,302)
Bibliography: The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse, chosen by
Beatrice Davis, 1984, Nelson.
Back to Australian Poems List