Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Goode, Cyril Harry Everard (1907–1982)

by John Lack

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Cyril Harry Everard Goode (1907-1982), poet and short-story writer, was born on 5 October 1907 at Grenfell, New South Wales, third child of Victorian-born parents Henry Francis Good, farmer and grazier, and his wife Mary, née Gibson (d.1915). Cyril was educated at home by a tutor and then at bush schools as drought drove the family from a succession of properties. In 1920 they settled at Brighton, Melbourne, and he completed two years at a local school. An avid reader inspired by the poetry of Adam Lindsay Gordon, he joined pilgrimages to Gordon’s grave at Brighton cemetery—only to be reprimanded at church for honouring a notorious drinker, horse-racing enthusiast and suicide. After working in a warehouse, in 1925 he left with his father for Western Australia, where they purchased settlement blocks near Southern Cross.

Living alone in a tent, Good began writing (as Cyril E. Goode) sketches and bush ballads, which appeared in Western Australian newspapers and journals and in the Sydney Bulletin and Smith’s Weekly. He also started a diary, introspective and frank, which he kept all his life. After seven years of clearing, fencing and cropping, he was driven from the land by the collapse of wheat prices. Returning to Victoria, he published a selection of poems, The Grower of Golden Grain (1932), and worked as a shearer, tractor driver and teamster. In 1935 he went to the Western Australian goldfields and at Wiluna met Jessie Morrison, a Scottish-born nurse; they married on 22 June 1940 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Caulfield, Melbourne. Rejected for military service, Good was drafted into munitions work (where he befriended the balladist Edward Harrington and was then employed on the construction of Melbourne City Council’s Spencer Street power plant. Having qualified as an engine and turbine driver, he remained at the station until 1972.

Good had been radicalised by the Depression: its imagery recurred in the thirteen books he published between 1932 and 1973. Repudiating organised Christianity, he turned to rationalism and found his political faith in communism. While his books were mostly self-published in small numbers, some works—notably the ballad `The Bridge Party at Boyanup’—won a wider audience; he also gained recognition for innovative and striking sonnets, and had poems translated into Russian and Italian. He won the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts short-story award (1960) and the Litchfield prize for poetry (1965).

An enthusiastic participant in Melbourne literary circles, Good frequented the soirées of J. K. Moir and meetings of the Adam Lindsay Gordon, Henry Lawson, Australian Literature, and Australian Poetry Lovers’ societies, the Bread and Cheese Club (president 1979), the Fellowship of Australian Writers, PEN, and the World Congress of Poets. He wrote and demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and, with Jessie, travelled abroad during the 1960s and after retirement.

In 1945 the threatened demolition of Gordon’s last home had prompted Good to appeal, unsuccessfully, to the Brighton City Council for its preservation. He then bought the cottage and spent two years dismantling it and carting 25 000 bricks to his Newport backyard. An attempt in 1968 by the Brighton Historical Society to re-erect the building was abandoned. Humble, eccentric and dedicated, Cyril Good died on 25 December 1982 at Newport and was cremated. His wife and their daughter survived him. He had entrusted the Gordon cottage materials to a sympathetic Dandenong businessman, whose family retains them.

Select Bibliography

  • Age (Melbourne), 18 Nov 1969, p 2
  • Melbourne Observer, 27 Feb 1972, p 12
  • Herald (Melbourne), 2 May 1979, p 7
  • Sunday Press (Melbourne), 4 July 1982, p 13
  • Lawsonian, June 1983, p 2
  • P. Adam-Smith, taped interview with C. E. Goode (State Library of Victoria)
  • Goode papers (State Library of Victoria).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

John Lack, 'Goode, Cyril Harry Everard (1907–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goode-cyril-harry-everard-12551/text22593, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 21 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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