Sandhurst, K.J. Robshaw, Printer and Stationer, 1867.
Octavo, [ii] (title page, verso blank), 24 (last blank) pages.
Early quarter sheep and marbled papered boards, retaining the original green wrappers, with the full title page details repeated within a decorative border on the front cover (and an advertisement for the printer on the outside rear cover); wrappers a little creased, chipped and marked, with the leading edge of the rear one reinforced with tissue-paper; trifling signs of use and age internally; overall, a very good copy.
Thomas Bracken (circa 30 December 1841?-1898), was born in Ireland; he became an orphan in 1852. He 'was cared for by an aunt until about the age of 12, when he was sent to Australia to the care of his uncle, John Kiernan, a farmer at Moonee Ponds, near Melbourne. He worked on his uncle's farm for about a year, and was then apprenticed to a chemist in Bendigo. After about 18 months he went to work on a station at Colbinabbin, north-east of Bendigo, where he became a proficient horseman and shearer. Little is known of this period of Bracken's life, except that he began writing verse during these years and published a volume, "The Haunted Vale", in 1867. Bracken is thought to have arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand, in early 1869' ('Dictionary of New Zealand Biography'). He spent the rest of his life in New Zealand, working primarily as a journalist and editor, and continuing to write and publish his own poetry. 'His single most important literary achievement, however, was his poem "God defend New Zealand". On 1 July 1876 the New Zealand "Saturday Advertiser" published the five stanzas under the title "National hymn", and announced a competition to compose an air for the poem for a prize of 10 guineas.' The work was given equal status with 'God save the Queen' as a national anthem in 1977. 'Bracken's poetry was highly praised in his lifetime and in the early twentieth century.... However ... recent literary historians and anthologists have shown little interest in him ... His current poetic reputation must depend, therefore, solely on "God defend New Zealand". It may be that this recognition owes little to reasoned response to Bracken's words and much more to the readily identifiable melody by [John Joseph] Woods. The poem remains, nevertheless, Bracken's one permanent poetic memorial.' Be that as it may, this early regional imprint is rare, and the lengthy title poem, along with 'The Old Land and the New', 'The Wattles are in bloom again', and 'Meet me by the Yarra', provide it with considerable traction. Trove records only one copy, in the State Library of Victoria (that copy is digitized, and it clearly lacks the wrappers). Provenance: Edward Edgar Pescott (1872-1954), horticulturalist, naturalist, author and book-collector, with his signature on the front flyleaf. The earlier name-stamp of one J. Searle has been erased from seven pages (including the title page, where Searle has also written his name and address - 90 Simpson Road, Richmond - in pencil); the stamp is just visible at the head of the front cover.