Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kendall, Henry Clarence

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938206Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 30 — Kendall, Henry Clarence1892Sidney Lee

KENDALL, HENRY CLARENCE (1841–1882), poet of New South Wales, born in Ulladalla district on 18 April 1841, was son of Basil Kendall, by his wife Melinda m'Nally. His father, the son of a missionary to Australia under Samuel Marsden [q. v.], long led a roving life in the colony. Henry received very little education, but at an early age was impressed by the wild beauty of his native country, and read such modern poetry as reached his neighbours. In 1860 he became clerk to a lawyer in Sydney, James Lionel Michael, who was himself a man of literary tastes (d. 1868). In 1862 Kendall sent a parcel of manuscript verses to the London ‘Athenæum,’ whose editor sufficiently appreciated their promise to publish three poems dealing with the scenery of the Australian bush on 27 Sept. 1862. Encouraged by this recognition Kendall printed at Sydney a volume of ‘Poems and Songs;’ but he suppressed it, on the ground of its immaturity, in 1865, and issued without date another volume, ‘At Long Bay: Euroclydon: Poems,’ Sydney. Sir Henry Parkes at the same time encouraged him to contribute verse to his newspaper, the ‘Empire.’ He entered the public service of New South Wales in 1863 as clerk in the lands department, and was afterwards transferred to the colonial secretary's office. In 1869 he resigned these posts and removed to Melbourne, where he worked hard as a journalist. In 1870 he wrote the words for ‘Euterpe,’ the cantata by Charles Edward Horsley [q. v.], which was prepared for the opening of the Melbourne town-hall. But in 1873 his health failed, and he returned to New South Wales, residing successively at Gosford and Camden Haven, near Brisbane Water. After he had been employed for some time as a clerk in the business of two brothers named Fagan at Gosford, Sir Henry Parkes conferred on him an inspectorship of forests. He died at Redfern, near Sydney, on 1 Aug. 1882, and was buried in Waverley cemetery. A monument was subsequently erected to his memory there. He married in 1867 Charlotte, daughter of Dr. Rutter of Woolloomoolloo, Sydney, and left by her five children. After his death 1,200l. was raised by public subscription for the support of his family.

In his two chief volumes, ‘Leaves from an Australian Forest,’ Melbourne, 1869, 12mo, and ‘Songs from the Mountains,’ Sydney, 1880, Kendall proved his right to the title of the poet of the bush. No one has yet described the effects of Australian landscape more sympathetically and more accurately, or has shown a more passionate affection for Australia. His lighter verse, a reflection of Calverley, is not successful, despite its fluency. A collection of his verse appeared with a brief memoir at Melbourne in 1886. A poem by him in memory of Adam Lindsay Gordon [q. v.] was prefixed to J. Howlett Ross's ‘Laureate of the Centaurs’ in 1888.

[Memoirs in collected edit. 1886; Athenæum, 9 Sept. 1882; D. B. W. Sladen's Australian Poets, 1788–1888, London, 1888, pp. 280 sq.; A Study of Henry Kendall as a Bush Poet, in Australian Ballads and Rhymes, ed. D. B. W. Sladen (Canterbury Poets), 1888, pp. 277–301; Contemporary Review, lii. 407; Heaton's Australian Dictionary of Dates.]

S. L.