Henry Kendall has often been called our finest colonial poet, yet the details of his life are little known in modern Australia and no new biography of Kendall has appeared for sixty years. Kendall's was a life which lends itself to biography and to fictions. His own accounts of it frequently appear at best to be lacking in credibility, at worst to contain calculated lies. As a result some of the most basic facts about the poet's life have remained in dispute. In writing this first full scale account of Kendall's life and times Michael Ackland has used a store of previously unpublished information to separate the real man from the myths which have come to surround him. He replaces the popular image of Kendall as a melancholy poet of the Australian bush with a fascinatingly complex portrait of a robust, enigmatic and many-sided character whose life registered the full impact of family tragedies, religious crises, drunkenness and poverty. Kendall's diverse career included periods as a journalist, public servant, timber merchant and colonial man of letters. Michael Ackland also reveals Kendall as an honest doubter, a lively humorist and a man deeply interested in politics, rural affairs and ecological issues. A good hater as well as a staunch friend, Kendall produced some of the most memorable and vitriolic writing in the decades following the discovery of gold; a period whose central characters included such figures as Henry Parkes, Charles Harpur, 'Orion' Horne, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Daniel Denichy. This book is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the literature, history and politics of colonial Australia as well as a long overdue reassessment of a man who represents an abiding part of our cultural heritage.