Donald Bruce Dawe AO is an Australian poet, and is considered by many as one of the most influential Australian poets of all time.

Early Life

Bruce Dawe was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne in 1930. Bruce Dawe's mother and father were from farming backgrounds in Victoria and, like his own sisters and brother, never had the opportunity to complete primary school. He always had encouragement from them (the younger of his two sisters also wrote poetry) and his mother, proud of her Lowlands Scots ancestry, would often recite poems she had learned in her 19th century childhood. Dawe's father's ancestors came from Wyke Regis in Dorset, England, in the mid-19th century. Dawe attended six schools before leaving Northcote High School at 16 without completing his Leaving Certificate. Of the four children in the family, he was the only one to attend secondary school.

Dawe was educated at Northcote High School, Melbourne. After leaving school at 16, he worked in various occupations (labourer, farmhand, clerk, sawmill-hand, gardener and postman) before joining the RAAF in1959. He left the RAAF in 1968 and began a teaching career at Downlands College, Toowoomba in 1969. He holds four university degrees (BA, MLitt, MA and PhD) - all completed by part-time study.

He was appointed as Lecturer at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) in 1971, became a Senior Lecturer in1980 and an Associate Professor following the status change to the University of Southern Queensland. He was awarded the inaugural DDIAE Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988. He retired from full-time teaching in 1993 and was appointed as the first Honorary Professor of USQ in recognition of his contribution to the University. He has taught U3A classes ever since his retirement from full-time teaching.

Until he went to University on a teaching scholarship in 1954, he worked in a wide range of jobs: as a clerk in various firms, as well as a sales assistant, an office-boy in an advertising agency, and a copy-boy at Melbourne newspapers Truth and the Sun. He also worked as a labourer in the Public Works Department, as a tailer-out in various Melbourne saw-mills, and as a farm-hand in the Cam River valley.

Dawe gained university entrance by completing his Adult Matriculation by part-time study in 1953 and enrolled at Melbourne University. He left university at the end of 1954 and moved to Sydney where he worked as a labourer in a glass factory and later in a factory manufacturing batteries. Returning to Melbourne in 1956, he worked as a postman for two years and as a self-employed gardener.

Dawe joined the RAAF in 1959 as a trainee telegraphist, but re-mustered as an education assistant. He was posted to Malaysia and returned to Melbourne after six months.

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