Leon Maxwell Gellert was born in 1892 in Walkerville, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. After an education at Adelaide High School, he embarked on a teaching career; first at Unley High School then later at the University of Adelaide’s Teacher Training College.
Gellert enlisted with the AIF’s 10th Battalion within weeks of the outbreak of the World War I and sailed for Cairo in October 1914. He landed at Ari Burnu Beach, Gallipoli, in April 1915, but was wounded and repatriated as medically unfit just over a year later. He attempted to re-enlist but was soon found out. Back home in Adelaide, he returned to teaching.
During the War Gellert had begun to write poetry and his first collection, Songs of a Campaign, was published in 1917 and favourably reviewed by The Bulletin. Angus & Robertson were suitably impressed and soon released a new edition, illustrated by Norman Lindsay.
Gellert moved to Sydney where he taught English at Cleveland Street Intermediate High School until 1922. He then took to journalism and joined the staff at tabloid newspaper Smith’s Weekly. There he was introduced to the circle that included Sydney Ure Smith and Bertram Stevens. Gellert was appointed editor of Ure Smith’s Home magazine and co-editor of the quarterly Art in Australia which he took over following Stevens’ death in 1922.
Gellert continued editing Home until 1942 when it ceased publication. He then became literary editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, writing the ‘Something Personal’ column in the Saturday issue as well as humorous columns for the Sunday Herald and the Sunday Telegraph. He returned to Adelaide after the death of his wife Kathleen in 1969, living in the suburb of Hazelwood Park. Leon Gellert died in 1977.
Gavin Souter’s biography of Leon Gellert, A Torrent of Words, was first published in 1996 and is released here digitally for the very first time.