Capel Boake

Capel Boake (pen name of Doris Boake Kerr. 29 August 1889 – 5 June 1944) was an Australian writer.

She was born in Sydney, but the family moved to Melbourne in 1893, after her father lost his job as a civil servant at the Railways Department. Boake’s mother supported the family by working as an assistant for a photographer.

Boake attended Prahran State School, but left school at an early age to start working. In her entry in Who’s Who in Australia (1938), she claimed to have been “self-educated at Prahran Public Library”. Boake worked as a shop-assistant, typist, secretary, and book-keeper, and wrote short-stories and poems in her spare time. Her maternal grandfather, Barcroft Capel Boake, published some poems in the periodical Bulletin, and her uncle, Barcroft Boake, wrote the collection Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems, published posthumously in 1897.

Capel Boake published her first short story in the Australasian in January 1916, and started to contribute regularly with other periodicals. She published her first novel, Painted Clay, in the following year, in 1917. In 1922, she collaborated with Bernard Cronin on the children’s book Kangaroo Rhymes, which she published under the pen name Stephen Grey.

During the 1930s, Boake worked as a librarian and, later, as a secretary for J. K. Moir at Payne’s Bon Marché. Capel Boake was active in P.E.N. International and was a founding member of the Society of Australian Authors. In 1939, she was awarded a Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship.

Capel Boake died of a cerebral haemorrhage, on 5 June 1944.

Books

Novels

  • Painted Clay (1917)
  • The Flying Shade (finished by early 1921, but never published)
  • The Romany Mark (1923)
  • The Dark Thread (1936)
  • The Twig is Bent (1946, posthumous)

Poetry

  • Kangaroo Rhymes, as Stephen Grey, together with Bernard Cronin (1922)
  • The Selected Poems of Capel Boake (1949, posthumous)

Anthologies

  • The little track and other verses: verses by Capel Boake, Myra Morris, Cecil Doyle, Bernard Cronin and Gertrude Hart (1922)
  • An Austral garden: an anthology of Australian verse, ed. M.P. Hansen and D. McLachlan (1926)
  • Silence Into Song: An Anthology of Australian Verse, ed. Clifford O’Brien (1968)

About her

  • Many Such as She: Victorian Australian Women Poets of World War One, ed. Michael Sharkey (2018)
  • “Kerr, Doris Boake (1889 – 1944)”, by John Arnold, Australian Dictionary of Biography – vol. 15, ed. John Ritchie (2000)
  • The Imagined City: Melbourne in the Mind of Its Writers, by John Arnold (1983)

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