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Bruce Dawe

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Name  Bruce Dawe
Role  Poet

Education  Northcote High School
Awards  Christopher Brennan Award
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Books  Sometimes gladness, Aussie Nibbles, Animal Tales, Luke And Lulu, Slo‑Mo Tsunami: And Othe
Similar People  Janeen Brian, Jane Godwin, Victor Kelleher, Rachel Flynn, Raewyn Caisley

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Donald Bruce Dawe AO (born 15 February 1930) is an Australian poet, considered by some as one of the most influential Australian poets of all time.


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Early life

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Bruce Dawe was born in Fitzroy, Victoria, in 1930. His mother and father were from farming backgrounds in Victoria and, like his own sisters and brother, had never had the opportunity to complete primary school. He always had encouragement from them (the younger of his two sisters also wrote poetry) and his mother, proud of her Lowlands Scots ancestry, often recited poems that she had learned in her 19th century childhood. Dawe's father's ancestors came from Wyke Regis in Dorset, England, in the mid-19th century. Dawe attended six schools before leaving Northcote High School in Melbourne at 16 without completing his Leaving Certificate. Of the four children in the family, he was the only one to attend secondary school.

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After leaving school at 16, he worked in a wide range of jobs: as a clerk in various firms, as well as a labourer, sales assistant, office boy in an advertising agency, and a copy boy at the Melbourne newspapers The Truth and The Sun News-Pictorial. He also worked as a labourer in the Public Works Department, as a tailer-out in various Melbourne saw-mills, and as a farm-hand in the Cann River valley.

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Dawe completed his Adult Matriculation by part-time study in 1953 and enrolled at Melbourne University on a teaching scholarship in 1954. He left university at the end of 1954 and moved to Sydney where he worked as a labourer in a glass factory and later in a factory manufacturing batteries. Returning to Melbourne in 1956, he worked as a postman for two years and as a self-employed gardener.

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He joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1959, initially as a trainee telegraphist but re-mustered as an education assistant. He was posted to Malaysia and returned to Melbourne after six months.


Leaving the RAAF in 1968, Dawe began teaching at Downlands College, a Catholic boys college – Dawe became Catholic in 1954 – in Toowoomba, Queensland. After teaching English and history at secondary level for two and a half years, he became a tertiary lecturer in English literature at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education in Toowoomba.

He was appointed as lecturer at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) in 1971, became a senior lecturer in 1980 and an associate professor following the status change to the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). He was awarded the inaugural DDIAE Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988. He retired from full-time teaching in 1993 and was appointed as the first Honorary Professor of USQ in recognition of his contribution to the University. He has taught University of the Third Age classes since his retirement from full-time teaching.

He holds four university degrees (BA, MLitt, MA and PhD), all completed by part-time study.

Personal life

Dawe married Gloria Desley Blain on 27 January 1964. Between December 1964 and July 1969, they had four children: Brian, twins Jamie and Katrina, and Melissa. Gloria died in 1997.

Dawe has four degrees, all completed by part-time study: B.A. (Qld.), M.Litt. (U.N.E.), M.A. (Qld.), and Ph.D. (Qld.). He now teaches various literature courses in the U3A A (University of the Third Age), an organisation for senior citizens.


  • 1965 – winner of the Myer Poetry Prize
  • 1967 – winner of the Ampol Arts Award for Creative Literature
  • 1968 – winner of the Myer Poetry Prize
  • 1973 – winner of the Dame Mary Gilmore Medal
  • 1978 – winner of the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry
  • 1979 – winner of the Braille Book of the Year
  • 1980 – winner of the Patrick White Literary Award
  • 1984 – winner of the Christopher Brennan Award
  • 1990 – Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International
  • 1992 – made an Officer of the Order of Australia: "In recognition of service to Australian literature, particularly in the field of poetry"
  • 1996 – Alumni Award by the University of New England
  • 1997 – winner of the inaugural Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal at the Mildura Writer's Festival
  • 2000 – Australian Council for the Arts Emeritus Writers Award for his long and outstanding contribution to Australian literature
  • 2001 – awarded the Centenary Medal for "distinguished service to the arts through poetry"
  • References

    Bruce Dawe Wikipedia