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John Shaw Neilson received only a basic education, yet became one of Australia's best poets. He was born at Penola, South Australia on 22 February 1872. Raised by a family of poor labourers, Neilson worked as a farm hand. In 1893 he won a national poetry prize, and as a young man he contributed to various publications, gathering both critical and commercial praise across Australia. In 1919, following the First World War, Neilson published his first full collection, Heart of Spring, to widespread acclaim, following it in 1923 with another collection, Ballad and Lyrical Poems. In 1927 he published New Poems, and in 1934 the first Collected Poems appeared. His last collection Beauty Imposes, published in 1938, was lauded by literary critics and led Robert FitzGerald to remark that, 'no other Australian poet has Neilson's skill with words and rhythms.' Vivian Smith called him 'the foremost poet of his generation.'
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