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CJ Dennis, through the eyes of his wife

a radio feature produced by Lyn Gallacher

C.J Dennis is best known for his 1915 verse novel The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. It sold 66,000 copies within eighteen months of its first publication, extraordinary even by today’s standards. It made Dennis famous, and made him one of the few poets in Australia to earn a living from his craft.


But whatever your preference The Bloke, or the sequel The Moods of Ginger Mick, or the satire The Glugs of Gosh, reading the verse of C.J Dennis is an opportunity to relish the sound and rhythm of Australian spoken language, and to take delight in the inventiveness of its rhymes.


This week’s Hindsight approaches this most larrikin of Australian poets through the eyes of his wife, a tough minded woman whose name was Olive Herron, although Dennis called her Biddy and she wrote under the pen name Margaret.


The setting is The Singing Garden, the Toolangi property where Den and Biddy lived from 1915 until Den’s death in 1938. It was called “Arden” back then, but the current owners Jan and Vic Williams now call it The Singing Gardens after C.J Dennis’s last book of poetry which was inspired by the garden Biddy cultivated there. Jan and Vic have also opened the site up as a tea room, and they host a C.J Dennis festival each year, because it gives the public the chance to share the same environment that C.J Dennis knew and loved and which was the source of much of his inspiration.

Listen to the program here …

HindsightCJ Dennis, through the eyes of his wife



Jan Williams


Susan K Martin


Melissa Bellanta


John Derum





Lyn Gallacher, Producer


Tim Symonds, Sound Engineer


Anne Phelan, Actor




© 2012—Lyn Gallacher & ABC RN

Filed under: radio features, works