Backblock Ballads and Other Verses [by C. J. Dennis, 1913]

[Editor: This book of poems by C.J. Dennis was published in 1913, although many of his works had previously appeared in various periodicals. Although Backblock Ballads and Other Verses was not a good seller, twenty-one of its poems were included in his later book, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918), which achieved great success (a comparison of the poems included in the two books is available here), and four of its poems were included in his book The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke (1915). Most of the poetry of C.J. Dennis is written in the style of the Australian vernacular.]

1913 hardcover edition

Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913 hardcover edition)

Backblock Ballads


Other Verses

By “Den”.
(C. J. Dennis.)


Roamin’ Free
An Old Master
Wanderers Lost
The Looting of Jim
Hopeful Hawkins
The Homeward Track
Barley Grass
Mornin’ Magpies
Up ’Long the Billabong
When the Sun’s Behind the Hill
The Cruise of the “Nightmare”
The Ballad of Juno Sue
Me an’ Bates
The Bleating
Comin’ ’Ome frum Shearin’
The Silent Member
On the Land
The Sentimental Bloke —
          I. A Spring Song
          II. The Intro
          III. The Stoush o’ Day
          IV. Doreen
Brothers o’ Mine
The Joy Ride
The Tory
A Real Australian Austra—laise
My Poor Relation
The Martyred Democrat
The Idolators
The Lovers
The Nearing Drums
The Royal Hat
Under the Party Plan
Yarra Flats
The First Elective Ministry
It was Never Contemplated
Weighed In
The March
A Ballad of Elderly Kids
The Eternal Circle
The Chase of Ages
The Bridge Across the Crick
Son of a Fool
Suburbia — A Yearn
The High Priest
Brown’s Tram
The Bore

Commonwealth of Australia :
E. W. Cole, Book Arcade, Melbourne
346 George Street, Sydney
67 Rundle Street, Adelaide

Most of these verses have appeared in the “Bulletin”. Others were printed in the “Lone Hand,” “The Gadfly,” “The Critic,” and “The Evening Journal” (Adelaide). To the proprietors of these journals the thanks of the Author are due for permission to reprint.

[All Rights Reserved.]

C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913] (paperback edition)


  1. These poems by C.J. Dennis appear for the first time on the internet:

    The Cruise of the “Nightmare”
    The Looting of Jim
    On the Land

    The glossary for Backblock Ballads and Other Verses makes its first appearance as well, although much of it was included within the glossary for The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke.

    There is poem called “On the Land” by C.J. Dennis on the internet, but it is a totally different poem (published in The Critic, 5 September 1903, page 31)

  2. Neil Glover says:

    There were three bindings of this book (a) Paperback (called Wrappered), Price on cover 1/6.
    (b) Cloth, Price 2/6 – but my copy has a blank circle where the price appears on the P/Back.
    (c) Leather (boxed), Price 5/- ( I have not seen a copy or description of this book).

    McLaren speculates that 5000 copies in total were printed by E.W.Cole. Possibly 4400 Paperback – 500 Cloth and 100 Leather. On the 2nd.May 1916, Cole advised Dennis that his stock of Backblock Ballads stood at 1977 copies @ 1/6 – 60 copies @ 2/6 and 35 copies @ 5/-. This highlights the slow sales.
    Following a dispute with Cole over the ‘Bloke’ stories appearing in ‘The Sentimental Bloke’ without permission, Dennis purchased the remaining stock which is thought to have been pulped by George Robertson.
    It can therefore be assumed that approximately 2500 Paperbacks – 450 Cloth and 60 Leather bound copies were sold. I have only seen the three copies that I have – two Paperbacks (one without original covers) and one cloth. Perry Middlemiss states on his website that he has never seen a copy.
    I would be very interested to hear from anyone who can provide a description of the leather bound volume.

    • The National Library of Australia has a leather edition of “Backblock ballads and other verses” in Harry Chaplin’s collection, “Papers of C J Dennis and Hal Gye” (MS 6480).
      The collection includes six copies of the 1913 book, including one described as “Original soft green leather covers as issued”.
      Perhaps a C. J. Dennis researcher could arrange access with the NLA and – if permitted – take some photos of the leather edition, and publish the photos on the internet.

Speak Your Mind