On the 31 December 1977, Mary Durack was appointed to the Order of the British Empire, Dames Commander, for her services to literature. In acknowledgment of her accomplishments she was also honoured with an AC (1989) and OBE in 1966. Dame Mary Durack is remembered as being the author of publications that includes Kings in Grass Castles, To Ride a Fine Horse, Sons in the Saddle and Swan River Saga: Life of Early Pioneer Eliza Shaw.
Born in Adelaide South Australia, the daughter of Michael Patrick and Bessie Ida Muriel (née Johnstone) Durack Mary's childhood was spent on the Argyle and Ivanhoe stations in the West Australian East Kimberley area. After being educated at Loreto Convent in Perth she returned to the family properties.
During her lifetime Mary became a prolific writer, with her first known work being Little Poems of Sunshine (1923). Mary and her sister Elizabeth, who also became a noted author, completed their first book together Allabout: The Story of a Black Community on Argyle Station, Kimberley in 1935. Mary also wrote under the name of 'Virgilia' for The West Australian newspaper.
In 1987 Dame Mary Durack became a Fellow of Curtin University and was commended by the Childrens' Book Council in 1965 for The Courteous Savage: Yagan of Swan River (1964), illustrations by Elizabeth Durack. The title was changed to Yagan of the Bibbulmun (1976), illustrations by Revel Cooper, a Bibbulmun descendant, as 'savage' was now considered racist.
Dame Mary Durack was a director and patron of the Stockmans' Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre, and a former executive member of the Aboriginal Cultural Foundation. She was a member of the Australian Society of Women Writers, The Royal Western Australian Historical Society, the National Trust and honorary life member of International PEN Australia.
The Australian Irish Heritage Association of WA conducts the Mary Durack Memorial Lecture commemorating the distinguished writer and their first patron. In 1979 the Western Australian Shires of Mundaring, Kalamunda and the Cities of Armadale and Swan established the Mary Durack Award.
On 2 December 1938 Mary married Capt. Horace Clive Miller OBE (died 1980) and they had six children.
View the full record at
Australian Women's Register
Western Australian writer. Credited with some illustrations of her writings, although these were most likely the work of her sister, Elizabeth Durack.
writer, contributed a page of caricatures entitled 'Aboriginal Types' to the Western Mail Christmas Number 1934, according to Bromfield. In fact, Elizabeth Durack probably did the drawing, Mary the captions. This entry is a stub. You can help the DAAO by submitting a biography.
View the full record at
Design and Art Australia Online