- Category : Writers-Fiction
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 3
Edwin James ('Peter') Wilson is an Australian poet, painter, and lapsed scientist, with a strong interest in history. Born: 27 October 1942, Lismore, New South Wales
Occupations: Science teacher (1962–1965); lecturer Armidale Teachers’ College (now defunct) (1968–1972); Education Officer, The Australian Museum, (1972–1980); Community Relations, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (1980–2002); Hon. Research Associate (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney).
Genres: Author of 21 books, including poetry, about poetry, prose (novels, science fiction), memoirs, and social history.
Notables: The Wishing Tree and Poetry of Place (social history of Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney), Falling Up Into Verse (a book about poetry), The Mullumbimby Kid, and New Selected Poems.
Works: Articles and poems published in numerous Journals and Magazines. Published books include:
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (‘Guide to the Gardens’)(Ed.)1982, Banyan, (Poetry) 1984, Liberty, Egality, Fraternity! (Novel, please note ‘egality’ is derived from ‘egalitarianism’) 1985, The Dragon Tree, (Poetry) 1986, Discovering the Domain (Ed.), (Social History) 1987, Wild Tamarind, (Science fiction) 1989, Falling Up Into Verse, (Poetic Handbook) 1990, Songs of the Forest, (Rainforest Poems) 1991, The Rose Garden, (Poems) 1992, The Wishing Tree, (Social History, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain) 1993, The Botanic Verses, (Poetry) 1997, Chaos Theory, (Poetry) 1998, Cosmos Seven, (Selected Poems) 2000, The Mullumbimby Kid: A Portrait of the Poet as a Child, (Poetic Memoirs, Book One) 2001, Cedar House, (Gothic Novel and Australian ‘Wuthering Heights’) 2002, Asteroid Belt, (Poetry) 2002, Anthology: Collected Poems 2004, Poetry of Place, (Social History, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain) 2006, The Melancholy Dane: A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man, (Poetic Memoirs, Book Two) 2009, My Brother Jim, (Poetry) 2010, New Selected Poems 2010, The Mullumbimby Kid (second edition) 2012, New Collected Poems 2012, Oliver Bainbridge – Lord Nelson's Great Grandson? 2013, and Mullumbimby Dreaming, 2014.
Life: Edwin James (‘Peter’) Wilson (b. 1942) spent his early years in the then isolated farming community of East Wardell, in far northern coastal New South Wales, having been known as 'Peter' as a child, whose father died before he was born.
When his mother remarried Henry Forbes, cabinetmaker (in 1947), young 'Peter Wilson/Forbes' started school at Brunswick Heads. The 'boy poet' spent the formative decade (from 1948–1958) in Mullumbimby, prior to moving to Tweed Heads in 1959. At Mullumbimby he became a passionate orchid collector (from the surrounding rainforests).
Before attending Mullumbimby High School (at age 12) his mother told him his name was Edwin and not Peter, and he'd have to change for school banking, which was quite destabilising, an adjustment that was not properly made until he went to Murwillumbah High School (in 1959).
A scholarship to Armidale Teachers' College (1960–1961) provided his 'escape' from rural poverty, and was a period of aesthetic flowering. An appointment to the The Forest High School, Frenchs Forest (1962) enabled him to complete a (part-time) science degree at the University of New South Wales (in Chemistry and Botany).
His first brief marriage (to Margaret Dawn Macintyre in 1968) coinciding with his appointment as a lecturer at Armidale Teachers' College, was his second age of poetic awakening In 1972 he had returned to Sydney (into his 'garret phase' of verse), to work at The Australian Museum, quite literally the 'House of the Muses', and 'as fell so painfully out of love verse improved', and he has written ever since that time. When the child of that failed marriage (James Richmond Wilson, b. 1970) was accidentally killed in a road accident a lot more grief was sublimated into verse.
His first significant success in Literary Journals was with Poetry Australia (with a number of poems published over a range of years). His second lasting marriage (to Cheryl Lillian Turnham in 1975), coincided with his Literary Hoax in opposition to quotas (in which he had a poem published under the female pseudonym of 'Eileen' in Kate Jenning's Mother I'm Rooted, an Anthology of Australian Women Poets)). As a result of this he was sin-binned in some quarters for a score of years.
In 1980 he moved to the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, the closest thing to a rainforest in the city. Because of the 'Eileen' incident a lot of doors had closed to him, so in 1982 he set up Woodbine Press, a then subsidiary of Edwards & Shaw, with Dick Edwards (of Edwards & Shaw) as his silent partner. Banyan, his first book of poems, was printed with hot metal by Edwards & Shaw in their last year of business. Since then he has published more than twenty books, through Woodbine Press and other outlets (including Hale & Iremonger, Kangaroo Press, Rainforest Publishing, Kardoorair Press, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust).
Edwin Wilson retired from paid work in 2003, as a Research Associate of the Gardens. In 2003 he started art classes at the Lavender Bay Gallery, and was elected as an Exhibiting Member of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales (in 2008), and won the Medal of Distinction at the 2010 RAS Spring Show.
After an article on the centenary of ‘Tidge’ Wilson’s birth in the local paper at Lismore, New South Wales, at ‘the ripe old age of sixty one’ he was ‘discovered’ by his brother Jim, then retired, who’d worked as a carpenter/builder in his life, and died in 2008.
Wilson’s twentieth book, and tenth book of poetry, My Brother Jim (2009), was dedicated to Edwin James (Jim) Onslow/Wilson, 1939–2008. His New Selected Poems came out in 2010.
Edwin and Cheryl have three adult children, and live at Crows Nest, a suburb of Sydney.
Wilson's literary papers are held in the Mitchell Library at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
Who’s Who of Australian Writers, D.W. Thorpe, 1st and 2nd editions.
Thylazine (electronic) database (incomplete)
The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, William Wilde, Joy Hooton and Barry Andrews, Oxford University Press, Australia, 2nd edition, 1994.
Australian Poets and Their Works, William Wilde, Joy Hooton and Barry Andrews, Oxford University Press Australia, 1996.