Biography Adam Lindsay Gordon

Adam Lindsay Gordon

photo of Adam Lindsay Gordon
  • Time Period1833 - 1870
  • PlaceAzores
  • CountryPortugal

Poet Biography

Adam Lindsay Gordon was born on Oct. 19, 1833 at Fayal in the Azores and died on the 24th of June 1870 at New Brighton, Australia. He was educated in England at Cheltenham College, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and the Royal Worcester Grammar School.

As a youth he was very wild and reckless and his father decided that he should be sent to South Australia. He arrived in Adelaide in 1853 he was 20 years old and within a few days he joined the South Australian Mounted Police. Two years later in 1855 he resigned and became a horse breaker and steeplechase rider. He soon gained a reputation as being the best and most daring non-professional steeplechase rider in the colony.

In 1859 and two years after the death of his parents in 1857 he received 7,000 pounds from his mother's estate. Soon after in 1862 he married Margaret Park a girl of 17 he purchased a small cottage Dingley Dell in South Australia.

In August 1864 his first poem "The Feud" was published in March 1865. At this time he was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly but later resigned because he had bought land in Western Australia. The venture failed and he returned in 1867 and settled in Mount Gambier.

During this time he was contributing verse to the Australian and Bell's Life in Victoria.

The years from 1867 to 1870 were not good years for Gordon in fact they were disastrous. He decided to embark on yet another business venture and rented livery stables at Ballarat in Victoria. He had poor business sense and the venture failed. In 1868 he had a bad riding accident and worse still his only child Annie died at 11 months of age and his wife left Ballarat.

During this time Gordon apparently had many debts and fortunately a small legacy arrived just in in the nick of time for him to settle them. Also at this time he went to Melbourne and created a record at Flemington by winning three steeplechase races in one afternoon two of them on his own horses.

In 1869 he moved to Brighton and his wife rejoined him. But events were stacking up against him and in March 1970 he fell badly in a steeplechase and sustained a serious head injury from which he never fully recovered.

He became very depressed and more so when he learned that a legacy he was expecting from a Gordon estate in Scotland was not valid due to a change of law. He was hoping to pay for the printing costs for Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes which were published on the 23rd June 1870 the day before he died. He was warmly congratulated by other well known poets of the day with whom he was friendly including Henry Kendall.

Nevertheless for Gordon his future seemed very bleak and dismal. Early on June 24, 1870 he shot himself on the beach at Brighton. He was just 37 years of age.

How sad that someone with his dashing good looks and wonderful talent ended his life this way.

It is interesting to note that in 1932 a statue of Gordon was unveiled at Parliament House in Melbourne and in 1934 his bust was placed in Westminster Abbey.