Nat Gould

His life and books


E.J. Brady

Preserved in the archives of the Mitchell Library in Sydney (MLMSS A1726) is a collection of three letters written by Nat Gould after his return to England in 1895 and addressed to E.J. Brady.

Edwin James Brady (1869-1952), an Australian writer, journalist and poet, was born at Carcoar in New South Wales, and educated in America and Sydney. He worked as a wharf clerk, farmer and journalist, editing rural and city newspapers. He was a friend of Sir Edmund Barton, the first Australian premier, and helped to save the life of Henry Lawson in 1910. In 1909 he set up a writers' and artists' colony at Mallacoota in easternmost Victoria and lived there until his death at the age of 83.

While working on the Sydney wharves Brady had refused to be sworn in as a special constable during the maritime strike of 1890 and was dismissed. He became secretary of the Australian Socialist League, and edited its newspaper, the Australian Workman.

Between attempts at farming he worked as dramatic reporter for Truth, wrote features for the Sunday Times, the Freeman's Journal and the Bird O' Freedom. Eventually some of his books were published. Brady set up the Commonwealth Press Agency in Sydney but moved it to Melbourne in 1906, where he edited the Native Companion in which he published Katherine Mansfield's first short stories. However his only really profitable book was Australia Unlimited (1918), a survey of Australia's industries.

At Mallacoota he became involved in many different ventures : a south-coast railway, timber mills, gold mines, growing medicinal plants, a mechanical voting machine, and a co-operative for unemployed Melbourne workers. He returned however to publicity work and journalism, and much of his later work is unpublished. His greatest literary achievements were sea ballads, praised by the British poet laureate John Masefield.

Probably it was while writing for the Bird o' Freedom that he met Nat Gould, of whom he became a great admirer. Anxious to be published in London, Brady had sought the assistance of Nat Gould. Although generously willing to do all he could for the younger writer, Nat Gould had to tell him that his work was not really saleable then on the highly demanding and sophisticated London market.