Edward Phillip Harrington was an Australian poet and short story writer, the last of the bush balladists.

Early Life

Edward "Ted" Harrington was born to Phillip Henry and Margaret nee O'Brien on the 28th September 1895. His early youth was spent in the Shepparton area where his father worked a small wheat growing property at Pine Lodge Creek.

It was here that his sister, Mrs Reilly, recalls Ted composing his first poem at the age of nine as part of a competition between the two siblings to see who could write the most impressive verse. His sister recalled that Ted immediately set to work and produced a five stanza poem which "...was a much better piece than mine even though I'd copied one out of a school reader."

Ted's skill with the pen was soon recognised by one of his teachers, Mr McKernan, at Shepparton East State School. Mr McKernan sent off some of the young poets work to the Department of Education and the offer of a partial scholarship was made for the then, Bendigo College. However, Ted's parents were unable to pay for his board and soon after the family moved to a small selection at Wanalta, not far from Colbinabbin.

Phillip Harrington expected that his sons would assist on the farm but as his sister recalls, for Ted, there were always other priorities... "He'd leave the horse and plough in the middle of the paddock so he could write down what was in his mind straight away, and if father found them or came upon a half milked cow or a half-sown crop he'd come storming into the kitchen. Our mother would simply say she'd called Ted in to have a cup of tea."

The young Ted attended the Wanalta School - referred to by that other local writer Joseph "Tom Collins" Furphy as "...the schoolhouse on the plain..." - and followed in Furphy's lead by contributing his poems to the Rushworth Chronicle under the pseudonym "A Wanalta Schoolboy". And when he left, at age fourteen, his formal education was complete although, as his once father commented, "He was always reading!".

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