Mary Hannay Foott

Mary Hannay Foott

Mary Hannay Foott (26 September 1846 – 12 October 1918), was an Australian poet and editor who is best remembered for the poem Where the pelican builds.[1]

Mary Hannay Foott was born at Glasgow to a merchant, James Black, and his wife Miss Grant. The family came to Australia in 1853. Mary lived for some years with her parents near Melbourne and went to Miss Harper's school. She was afterwards one of the first students at the Melbourne National Gallery Art School, and also studied painting under Louis Buvelot.

In 1874 Mary married Thomas Wade Foott and lived for three years in Bourke, New South Wales. In 1877 her husband took up country on the Paroo River in south-west Queensland. One of her poems, "New Country", is descriptive of her own experience, and the next seven years in this country had a great influence on her writings. Her husband died in 1884 from over-work and exposure during the drought of that year, and the losses of stock were so great that Mrs Foott was obliged to sell her interest in the property and move to Toowoomba, Queensland.

In July 1885 Foott went to Rocklea, near Brisbane, and opened a private school which supported her family. In the same year she published her first volume Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems, and began to do journalistic work for the Queenslander and Brisbane Courier. In 1887 she joined the staff of the Queenslander and wrote under the pen-name of "La Quenouille", but several stories also appeared in her own name. These have never been collected. Morna Lee and Other Poems, largely a reprint of her first volume, was published in 1890. Mrs Foott continued her literary work for many years at Brisbane, and from 1907 at Bundaberg, Queensland, where she died in September 1918.

Foott's younger son was killed in action at Passchendaele in September 1917, and she was survived by her other son, Brigadier-General Cecil Henry Foott, C.B., C.M.G., who was born on 16 January 1876, educated as an engineer, and serving with distinction through the great war was six times mentioned in dispatches. He commanded the 4th Division A.M.F. 1929-31, and died on 27 June 1942.

Mrs Foott's published verse was small in quantity but usually of good quality. One of her poems "Where the Pelican Builds" is included in most Australian anthologies.



  • Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems (1885)
  • Morna Lee and Other Poems (1890)

External links


  1. ^ Adelaide (1988) p. 66


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  • FOOTT, Mary Hannay (1846-1918) — poet was born at Glasgow on 26 September 1846. Her father, James Black, was a merchant who had married a Miss Grant, and came to Australia in 1853. Miss Black lived for some years with her parents near Melbourne and went to Miss Harper s school.… …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

  • Cecil Henry Foott — Infobox Military Person name= Cecil Henry Foott lived= 16 January 1876 – Death date and age|1942|6|27|1876|1|16|df=yes placeofbirth= Bourke, New South Wales placeofdeath= caption=Portrait of Brigadier General Cecil Henry Foott nickname=… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Australian poets — The poets listed below were either citizens or residents of Australia and published the bulk of their poetry whilst living there.A B*Arthur Henry Adams (1872–1936) *Robert Adamson (born 1944) *Adam Aitken (born 1960) [cite web title = Adam Aitken …   Wikipedia

  • 1918 in Australia — Infobox Australian year year = 1918 monarch = George V governor general = Ronald Munro Ferguson pm =Billy Hughes population = 5,029,403 australian = elections =South Australia, Queensland See also: 1917 in Australia, other events of 1918, 1919 in …   Wikipedia

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