Thursday 14 September 2017

John Meredith - author and photographer

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John Meredith published many books and articles in magazines and journals. BMC's library contains a scrapbook of some of these articles.

He was also a poet, and an excellent photographer who photographed all his sources, some more than once as he kept in touch with the people he had collected from. A selection of these photos is included in Real Folk (below) and his photos are included in his collection held by the National Library. The National Library catalogue entry lists 995 entries for John Meredith (author) - books, recordings, and 267 photographs.

John Meredith's bookplate

John Meredith's papers at the National National Library,  Manuscript Reference number NLA MS 1007
Papers of John Stanley Raymond Meredith, 1948-2001 [manuscript]
The collection comprises papers relating to Meredith's long career in the folk music industry. There is correspondence; research material from field trips and for his books; transcriptions of songs; drafts of his writings, including those for several of his books; musical scores; scrapbooks; diaries and photographs. Correspondents include Hugh Anderson, Gwenda Davey, Charles Edward, Ron Edwards, Martin Fitzgerald, Mary Gilmore, Catherine Jeffries, John Low, Vance Palmer, Pamela Rosenberg, Yvonne White, Stephan Williams and Chris ("Woody") Woodland.

Folk musician and folklorist. A self-taught musician, Meredith formed the original Bushwhackers band in 1952 and was a founding member of the Bush Music Club (1954) and early editor of its magazine Singabout. In 1954 he also became secretary of the new Australian Folklore Society. Meredith spent many years collecting and recording hundreds of traditional Australian folk-songs and bush-dance music. With the aid of a government fellowship and together with Hugh Anderson, he collected material for and published Folksongs of Australia Vol. 1 in 1967. Vol. 2 was published in 1987. Meredith went on to publish a number of books relating to the Australian folk music scene and to write many of his own songs including two ballad operas, The wild colonial boy and How many miles from Gundagai?


Article in Challenge (Eureka Youth League newspaper) March 1955 (thanks to Keith McKenry for the image)
Old Bush Songs
, a series by John Meredith which was published weekly in The Bulletin from 2nd March 1955  (
thanks to Keith McKenry for these images from John Meredith's scrapbook held in the National Library Oral History collection)
1. Next week The Bulletin will begin publishing a series of old bush songs, words and music ...

2.  Travelling down the Castlereagh

3.  Another fall of rain

4.  With my Swag all on my Shoulder

5. The Old Man Kangaroo, collected from the late "Hoopiron" Jack Lee

6.  Bold Jack Donahoe, April 6, 1955

7.  Jog along till Shearing, collected from Joe Cashmere, published 13/4/55

8.  Jim Jones at Botany Bay, published 20/4/55

9.  The Umeralla Shore

10.  The Old Bark Hut


In 1956 Brisbane's New Theatre put on The Wild Colonial Boy, a play written by John Meredith and Joan Clarke. The play was reviewed by Tribune in 21st March & advertised in 27th March issue.


Songs from the Bush. Collected and edited by John Meredith and others.
Arranged by Alfred Hill. Imperial edition no. 766. Allan & Co Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Adelaide, Bendigo, 1957.

Review in  Singabout 2(3), December 1957, pages 8 & 9


Bushwhacker Songs: Old and New Sydney: John Meredith, ca.1955, (foolscap) 
Seven Bushwhacker Broadsides bound together with Bushwhacker Community Songsheet, no. 1.


foolscap page scanned as 2 images
Songs from the Kelly Country,
collected and edited by John Meredith; illustrations and layout by Gil Small, assisted in publication by Brian Loughlin. (published by Bush Music Club)

First edition was issued in 1955 as a folder of foolscap Bushwhacker Ballads with metal binder.

2nd edition in 1956 was a small bound booklet. (8", 20cm)

Songs From Lawson, edited by John Meredith. Woolloomooloo, N.S.W.: Bush Music Club, 1956, 1957


The Songs from the Australian musical drama Reedy River, by Dick Diamond /​ prepared by David E. Milliss and John Meredith; with the assistance of Stan Wakefield and Laurence Morris. Cover title: "Reedy River" song book.
1st, 2nd & 3rd editions, New Theatre, 1954, 1960 & 1966

1st edition 1954, New Theatre,

title page

2nd edition. Sydney: New Theatre, 1960.   Cover title: "Reedy River" song book.

 title page

3rd edition. Sydney: New Theatre, 1966.   Cover title: "Reedy River" song book

title page

Authentic Australian Bush Ballads, edited by John Meredith & Alan Scott for the Bush Music Club. Sydney, Southern Music Publishing Company, c.1960


The Wild Colonial Boy: The Life and Times of Jack Donahoe 1808(?)-1830
. Sydney, N.S.W.: Wentworth Press, 1960


Songs of Australia Words & Music by Stan Wakefield, edited by John Meredith for The Bush Music Club. Series no. 2. Sydney, Southern Music Publishing Co, 1966


Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson. Sydney: Ure Smith, ca.1967, 1968, 1973

Review in BMC Newsletter, 1968?

2nd ed 1967, reprinted 1985


Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson. Dee Why West, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, 1968, 1979

Frank, The Poet: The Life and Works of Francis MacNamara by John Meredith and Rex Whalan. Melbourne: Red Rooster, 1979

Review of Frank the Poet in Mulga Wire no. 15, October 1979, page 4 (unsigned - Editors  Dave Johnson, Bob Bolton and Ralph Pride)

Review of Frank the Poet by Lester Grace, Stringybark & Greenhide, 1(4), p.25


Ned Kelly After A Century of Acrimony  by John Meredith and Bill Scott. Sydney: Lansdowne Press, 1980

Review by Bob Bolton in Mulga Wire, no.22, Dec 1980, p.7


The Coo-ee March: Gilgandra-Sydney 1915 Dubbo, N.S.W.: Macquarie Publications, 1981

Review by Bob Bolton in Mulga Wire no. 25, June

The Donahoe Ballads Ascot Vale, Vic.: Red Rooster Press, ca.1982


The Wild Colonial Boy: Bushranger Jack Donahoe, 1806–1830 Ascot Vale, Vic.: Red Rooster Press, 1982

Duke of the Outback: The Adventures of "A Shearer Named Tritton" Ascot Vale, Vic.: Red Rooster Press, 1983

Mulga Wire, no.11, p.7

Learn To Talk Old Jack Lang: A Handbook of Australian Rhyming Slang by John Meredith, drawings by George Sprod. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1984, 2nd edition

Review from Stringybark & Greenhide, 5(4)

Dinkum Aussie Slang:  A Handbook of Australian Rhyming Slang  by John Meredith, drawings by George Sprod. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1991

Thanks to Chris Woodland for scans of inscriptions in these titles and for the following information. The reason that Learn to Talk Old Jack Lang was closely followed by Dinkum Aussie Slang was because the title of the first publication was felt to be too esoteric.

Folk Songs of Australia and the Men and Women Who Sang Them, Volume 2  by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson. Kensington, N.S.W: New South Wales University Press, 1987 
Launch of this book

Review by Dave Johnson in Mulga Wire no.62, August 1987, pp.S1-S4


The Householders' Compendium   Shepparton, Vic.: Night Owl, 1986

Corrections courtesy of Chris Woodland.

Mulga Wire no.55, June 1986. p,.8
The Coo-ee March: Gilgandra-Sydney, 1915. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1986

Review by Bob Bolton, Mulga Wire no.25, June 1981.


King of the Dance Hall: The Story of Fifty Years of Ballroom Music with Frank Bourke and the White Rose Orchestra Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, c1986


Gallant Peter Clark Woden, A.C.T.: Popinjay, 1988

Peter Clark was a drover in the Hunter region of NSW. He was killed by Wilson the bushranger in 1868. This book sets out to be an example of the processes of oral tradition, to bring together all the various accounts of the incident.

From the Archives - Review by Alan Scott of John Meredith's Gallant Peter Clark

Review by Alan Scott in Mulga Wire no.68, August 1988, pp.S1-S3


The Last Kooradgie: Moyengully, Chief Man of the Gundungurra People Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 1989


Real Folk Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1995 -  includes an autobiography - see pdf version

Breaker's Mate : Will Ogilvie in Australia by Will Henry Ogilvie, compiled and edited by John Meredith. Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, ca.1996

Haiku of John Meredith, made by hand by Merro, using traditional materials, including rice paper, Size is 4 1/8 inches (105mm)  X  5 13/16 inches (147mm). With thoughtful haiku poems. (Chris Woodland collection)



List of publications from Wikipedia
Publications found in BMC archives are included in this article.


1 comment:

  1. Hi I’m looking for the book ‘King of the dance hall with Frank Bourke and the White Rose Orchestra. 50 years of.....
    Can you point me in the direction of purchasing it. My mum grew up with him regards