Mary Hannay Foott

[Editor: This article provides biographical information about Mary Hannay Foott; for various works by her, click here.]

Mary Hannay Foott (née Black) was an Australian author, editor, and poet, whose most well-known work is the poem “Where the Pelican Builds”.

She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 26 September 1846, and moved to Victoria with her family in 1853, where she became a teacher. Mary married Thomas Wade Foott in 1874; they moved to Bourke (NSW) and then three years later to a rural property in south-west Queensland. Unfortunately, her husband died in February 1884, after a long period of illness. The property had already been suffering financially and so, after her husband’s death, Mary moved, with her two sons, to Toowoomba and then, in 1885, to Rocklea.

Mary Foott worked for a while as a teacher, and then later took up the job of editing the ladies’ pages in the Queenslander. Several of her poems had been printed in newspapers, and in 1885 she published a book of her poetry, Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems; in 1890 she reprinted her works in an expanded volume, entitled Morna Lee and Other Poems. She also wrote various articles and stories for the Queenslander.

She later went back to teaching, in Victoria, then New South Wales, and then back to Queensland. Although her main focus in life centered on teaching and family, she kept in touch with her literary contacts (including A. G. Stephens).

Mary Hannay Foott died in Bundaberg of pneumonia on 12 October 1918.

Reviews of the writings of Mary Hannay Foott:
The Reviewer [30 May 1885]
A review of Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems
Poems [4 July 1885]
A review of Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems
“Where The Pelican Builds,” And Other Poems [22 September 1885]
A review of Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems
Local and general news [19 July 1890]
A review of Morna Lee and Other Poems

Cecil Hadgraft. “Foott, Mary Hannay (1846–1918)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed 8 August 2012)
Mary Hannay Foott”, Wikipedia (accessed 8 August 2012)
Local and general news”, The Warwick Examiner and Times (St. Lucia, Qld.), Saturday 19 July 1890, page 2

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