Marjorie Quinn, servant of literature
A new donation to our collection is The Years that the Locust hath eaten: Memoirs of Marjorie Quinn, published by Arcadia, an imprint of Australian Scholarly Publishing.
It is of particular interest to Manly readers because the Quinn family were long-time residents, living in Darley Road and Addison Road. Marjorie Quinn was the niece of the well-known poet, Roderic Quinn, whose poem Manly was at one time a standard recitation for a generation of schoolchildren (see below). Her father, Patrick Quinn, was a journalist and was friends with many of the Bulletin poets, including Henry Lawson, Victor Daley and Henry Kendall. He became MLA for the Sydney Bligh electorate, and on his death in 1926 was buried in Manly Cemetery.
Marjorie Quinn was born in Sydney in 1889, and made her name as the founding secretary of the Fellowship of Australian Writers in 1928. She mixed in artistic circles and made pen portraits of many of the celebrities of the inter-war period. The value of her memoirs lies in these sketches of the characters of the likes of Dorothea Mackellar, Miles Franklin, and Ion Idriess as well as other minor writers with Manly connections such as Dora Wilcox and JHM Abbott, both of whom lived locally at one time, and the formidable administrator of Papua New Guinea, Sir Hubert Murray, (who grew up in a big house on North Steyne named The Pines). She seems to have had a talent for introducing unlikely individuals to each other.
Although her memoirs are primarily about other people, and are light on recollections of Manly, Marjorie Quinn remembered how much she relished body-surfing at South Steyne every morning well into her 50s.
My thanks go to Kath Berryman, who with Deborah McMahon was responsible for salvaging and publishing these memoirs, for her kind donation of a copy to our collection.
By Roderic Quinn
Lulled by breezes serene and tender,
Set by surges and snow-white sands,
Crowned with beauty and clad in splendour,
Matchless Manly for ever stands.
Hers forever the anthem olden
Breaking waves through the ages raise;
Mellow moonlight and noontide golden
Light with glory her nights and days.
Set apart with her hills and hollows,
Pines and beaches, at peace she dreams;
Hers the witch-lights the artist follows –
Held and spelled by their magic gleams.
Sought by all are the gifts she proffers –
Weary women and worn-out men,
Who so tastes of the cup she offers,
Longs to drink of its wine again.
No place else may a man discover
All the glory she ceaseless pours:
West of sunset are hearts that love her –
Dreaming ever of her lit shores.
Girt by waters that slumber never,
Swathed in glamour that ceaseless shines,
Loved and lovely she glows for ever –
Manly dreaming behind her pines.