Jessie Mackay was one of New Zealand’s first native-born writers and first to articulate the hope for a national awareness in its literature. Her ability to identify herself with others wherever and whatever their circumstances raised her beyond contemporary prejudices. Her commitment to numerous social causes was reflected in and took its toll on her poetry but she played a seminal role in developing the sense of a national community of writers and was revered as the unofficial poet laureate of her day.

Jessie Mackay was born in 1864 at Rakaia Gorge where her father was head shepherd. Despite her geographical isolation and home schooling, Mackay quickly achieved publication for her verses. Reared on the legends of Scottish saints and heroes, and stories of the Highland Clearances, she

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Citation: Jones, Jenny Robin. "Jessie Mackay". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 December 2004 [, accessed 23 February 2024.]

2855 Jessie Mackay 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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