[Editor: This obituary for William Baylebridge was published in The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld.), 14 May 1942.]
“Mystery poet” dead
William Baylebridge, Queensland’s mystery poet, whose work has been described by some authorities as bearing the brand of genius, and who, all his life, took care to shroud himself in obscurity, has died in Sydney.
Baylebridge’s real name was Charles William Blocksidge, son of Mr. G. H. Blocksidge, who is well known in Brisbane business circles. He was educated at the East Brisbane school and the Brisbane Grammar School, but in 1908, following a period during which he studied literature under the late David Owen, he left his native State and went to England.
Shortly afterwards he published “Southern Songs,” his first volume of verse. Like the majority of his work the collection was privately published under the name of William Baylebridge, a name which he subsequently adopted.
He was a prolific but never a popular writer. Like his personality, his poetry was abtruse. He never courted publicity of any description; very often after a collection of his verse had been published he would suddenly suppress it, and after his return to Australia his business communications were invariably conducted with the greatest impersonality through his publishers. Yet he has been described by competent critics as “the greatest poet of his time in Australia.”
Men who went to school with him in Brisbane — he was born in 1883 — recall that even when he was a boy he showed symptoms of the genius that was to evidence itself later in his work. “When the rest of us would be fishing or lobbying,” they say, “we would see him standing by himself gazing out to sea as if he were searching for inspiration.”
The poet never married. He died in Wahroonga at the age of 59, still completely remote from popular acclaim.
Perhaps the warmest tribute to his work is contained in H. A. Kellow’s book, “Queensland Poets.” Mr Kellow writes:—
“Vigorous writer of prose, sonneteer of outstanding merit, poet of vitalism, Baylebridge bids fair to be the greatest literary figure that Queensland has yet produced. But he is too subtle, too concise, too artistic, to win instant recognition.”
The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld.), 14 May 1942, p. 5 (City Final edition)
The author of this obituary states that Blocksidge (Baylebridge) “published “Southern Songs,” … under the name of William Baylebridge”; however, that assertion is inaccurate on two counts, 1) the book was entitled Songs o’ the South, and 2) it was published under the name of William Blocksidge; it was only later in life that Blocksidge adopted the name of Baylebridge.