MORE than 100 years after she lived at Beechworth the town’s “world famous” poet and novellist is to be honoured annually by the town.
Ada Cambridge lived in the North East hub from 1885 to 1893, while her husband George Cross was the Anglican vicar at Christ Church.
The church last Friday hosted readings of Cambridge’s poetry and Beechworth Arts Council vice president Daren Pope said it had been such a success it would be held yearly.
“We had over 50 people which is excellent considering it was in the middle of winter,” Mr Pope said.
The council’s president Jamie Kronborg added there were also plans to award an annual prize in Cambridge’s name to a young female writer.
Melbourne’s Willy Lit Fest already has biographical prose, poetry and Young Ada awards in recognition of Cambridge’s connection to Williamstown, her abode after leaving Beechworth.
“The Willy festival have a regular tribute competition and we reckon we can claim her as our own,” Mr Pope said.
“She became world famous, it’s not an overstatement to say her poems were published the world over.”
Mr Pope said honouring Cambridge was also about “broadening the cultural horizons” of Beechworth.
“We’ve been quite rightly bathing on Ned Kelly, which is a wonderful story and inspirational, but there’s a broader palette,” he said.
“There are Eugene von Guerard and Nicholas Chevalier to name just two artists who were in the North East in the 19th century.”
Cambridge (1844-1926) has traditionally been overlooked with her entry in the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature stating “until the late 1970s Cambridge….was dismissed as extraneous to the nationalist tradition which asserted itself in the 1890s”.
“Anyone before 1870 was considered not in touch with the true spirit of Australia and that’s been revised,” Mr Pope said.
“(Cambridge) was very much a woman of her own mind and didn’t fit in with the high society of Beechworth.”
Mr Pope cited her poem Fashion as an example of what he believes was Cambridge’s attitude to some Beechworth women.
That pampered body means an empty head.
When selfish greed becomes a social sin.
The world’s regeneration may begin.
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