Biography of Roderic Quinn

Roderic Quinn
Roderic Joseph Quinn

(1867-11-26)26 November 1867
Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia
Died15 August 1949(1949-08-15) (aged 81)
Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia

Roderic Joseph Quinn (26 November 1867 – 15 August 1949) was an Australian poet.

Early life

Quinn was the seventh child of Irish parents Edward Quinn, letter-carrier, and his wife Catherine. He was educated at Catholic schools where he met and formed lifelong friendships with Christopher Brennan and E. J. Brady. Following school he studied law irregularly and taught for six months at Milbrulong Provisional Public School, near Wagga Wagga. After a short stint back in Sydney as a public servant he became editor of the North Sydney News.


Quinn began publishing his poetry in The Bulletin during the 1890s and continued to do so for the rest of his life, writing over 1200 individual pieces in all. He published a novel, Mostyn Stayne in 1897, but it was not successful. He wrote a number of short stories during his career but does not appear to have returned to the novel length in his fiction. However it was poetry that was his first calling, and The Bulletin was his primary vehicle of publication. "In later days Quinn would turn up at The Bulletin each week with something which was called 'Rod Quinn's rent poem' which was bought but not often published."

Quinn was a leading member of the Dawn and Dusk Club in the 1890s, although in contrast to the club's boisterous reputation he "had an air of courteous deference and a fine sense of humour."

Together with poet and journalist Louise Mack, Quinn organised the farewell Bohemian dinner of Scottish-Australian poet and bush balladeer Will H. Ogilvie (1869–1963) in January 1901.

He never married and supported himself from his writing. He died in Darlinghurst, NSW, in 1949. He was the brother of Patrick Quinn and uncle of the writer Marjorie Quinn.


Norman Lindsay observed: "Listening was his distinguished characteristic. He was a very tall man, so that with men of average height he had to bend a little to be on equal terms, and this bending gave him the air of couteous deference. the courtesy was genuine. he was a kindly man, for I never heard him say anything depreciative of others, either their works of their personalities."

Of his verse, The Western Mail referred to his "poetic genius" and stated that he "occupies a high place amongst lyricists of the Commonwealth". Norman Lindsay summed up his work as follows: "That Rod was what he was defines the small place his poetry takes in this country's literary tradition."


  • Mostyn Stayne (1897)


  • The Hidden Tide (1899)
  • The Circling Hearths (1901)
  • A Southern Garland (1904)
  • Poems (1920)

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