Tasmania's journal of discovery

Tribute to a Tasmanian Tiger

imageMargaret Scott, literary icon of Tasmania, human rights activist, ABC television panellist with gently understated but devastating humour, died at the age of 71 on Monday, August 29.

Born in Bristol, England in 1934, she emigrated to Tasmania in 1959 and subsequently took up the position of head of the University of Tasmania’s English Department.

She retired in 1987 to pursue her writing of novels, magazine articles and, most notably, poetry.

Margaret Scott was particularly asscociated with the Port Arthur community and the arts community.

We will miss her.

image

In April this year, Summerhill Publishing [publishers also of Leatherwood Online], proudly launched a little more: Celebrating a life of letters by Margaret Scott [reviewed here].

Published to coincide with her Emeritus Award of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, it was a true celebration. It featured selections of her writing, from prose to poetry, and was interwoven with tributes and reminiscences from an eclectic mix of friends and writers.

Poet John Tranter introduced the book with his:

Tribute to a Tasmanian Tiger

From old England in a lather of energies and cardigans,
Over half a dozen seas, across burning countries
Reeking of incomprehensible cooking, migrants came.

Many were eager, but few so thoroughly
Alive and invested with abundant talents, none so
Rich with budding literary potential as this restless
Girl landed on Van Diemen’s Land (which seemed
Almost familiar, yet fields were ‘paddocks’, trees inflammable)—
Rara avis, one of us! chortled the bright parrots—
Excelsior! she said, and made herself at home, at once
Turning to the matter of having a number of children.

Sensible person! as well as witty, deeply schooled,
Creative to within an inch of her life, and also
Overly generous to her many friends—so let me offer a
Toast to a long and happy future: a panegyric
To a remarkable person, in the garb of an acrostic encomium.

Photographs by Alan Moyle

Footnote: Leatherwood Online is undergoing a major revamp for “reBoot” — its official ‘launch’ later this year and part of the new focus was an ongoing series of writings Margaret Scott originally published in Leatherwood, the print magazine which evolved into Leatherwood Online.

A taste of her whimsical approach to even the most mundane of subjects is demonstated in the first installment:  ‘All seated round the tub’, which you can read here

  1. I’m a former student of Margaret’s, and also miss her.

    She was a remarkable woman, possessed of a vibrant wit and a rapier tongue, and left an enduring legacy for thousands of English students at the University of Tasmania. Vale Margaret Scott.

    Posted by  on  29/09/2005  at  09:59 PM

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