Anna Wickham Poems

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Anna Wickham
Anna Wickham was the pseudonym of Edith Alice Mary Harper (1884 -1947), a British poet with strong Australian connections. She is remembered as a modernist figure and feminist writer, though one not able to command sustained critical attention in her lifetime. Many treated her as an eccentric, on the basis of a disorganised lifestyle in later years, while she had a number of very good and notable literary friends. She was born in Wimbledon, London, and brought up in Australia in a rather disordered existence, mostly in Brisbane and Sydney. Her pen-names imply an Australian self-identification: 'Wickham' was after a Brisbane street; it followed her use of John Oland for her first collection, which alludes to the Jenolan Caves in New South Wales. She returned to London in 1904, where she took singing lessons and had a drama scholarship (at the future RADA, just founded). She pursued her singing in Paris in 1905 with Jean de Reszke, the Polish tenor. In 1906 she married Patrick Hepburn, a London solicitor with interests in Romanesque architecture, and later astronomy. They had four sons, but the marriage had constant difficulties. They lived first in central London, then in family houses in Hampstead: Downshire Hill from 1909, and then from 1919 a house on Parliament Hill which would be her permanent home. She invested a great deal in motherhood for her first two children, and also became involved in the contemporary philanthropic movement concerned with maternal care, at St. Pancras Hospital. She was in a private mental hospital in 1911 for a period of about six weeks, after a voyage to see her father in Ceylon, and a visit from her mother (both parents were still resident in Australia).

I will pluck from my tree a cherry-blossom wand,
And carry it in my merciless hand,
So I w... [read poem]
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