Philip Durham Lorimer

[Editor: This article provides biographical information on Philip Durham Lorimer; for various works by him click here.]

Philip Durham Lorimer 150bPhilip Durham Lorimer was born in Madras, India, on 3 June 1843 to Scottish parents, Alexander Lorimer (a garrison assistant-surgeon) and Charlotte (Phillipa), née Henderson. Philip attended the Edinburgh Academy from 1854 to 1859, then migrated to Australia, arriving in Sydney in 1861.

Lorimer travelled throughout New South Wales and Queensland, working with overlanders to drive sheep and cattle. He also later travelled around Victoria.

He had several disappointments in life: Shortly after his arrival, he met and fell in love with a woman in Sydney, who died just a few years later (in 1868); he became very ill with “Gulf fever” for a while, from which he recovered; and he invested heavily in a business which subsequently failed.

Perhaps it was a combination of these disappointments that led him to take up the life of a wanderer, travelling from town to town, visiting bushmen’s huts, diggings, farming properties and stations, often paying his way by writing poetry for others. He was well-known to editors of various country newspapers, to whom he sold his poems and occasionally some prose. Lorimer became known as “the Australian bush poet”.

Philip Lorimer had adopted a very solitary lifestyle, not only “on the track”, but also later by establishing a “home” in a cave in the Blue Mountains, which he used as a resting place during his travels, sometimes living there for weeks on end. He refers to his cave home in his poem “Returning To My Cave”.

Lorimer died of paraplegia in Rookwood Asylum (Lidcombe, Sydney) on 5 November 1897.

Articles about Philip Durham Lorimer:
[The poor poet has been in the wars]” [28 July 1888]
A legal charge is brought against Philip Lorimer.
Death of a bush poet” [17 November 1897]
Obituary for Philip Lorimer.

A biography of Philip Durham Lorimer, written by Edward Augustus Petherick, was included in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet [1901]
Following are the several parts of the biography of Philip Durham Lorimer:
Biographical Sketch
I. The wilderness
II. Vanity Fair
III. The Pilgrimage
IV. The Delectable Mountains
V. Beulah

References and further information:
Cecil Hadgraft. “Lorimer, Philip Durham (1843–1897)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed 19 March 2013)
Philip Durham Lorimer” [entry from the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature], (accessed 19 March 2013)

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