Mary Fortune entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Mary Fortune, publishing under the pseudonyms 'Waif Wander', 'M. H. F.', and 'W. W.', wrote in a range of genres for the Australian periodical market in the second half of the nineteeth century and into the first decade of the twentieth. Her output includes hundreds of works on crime and detection; she is arguably the first woman to publish in the genre. In addition, she wrote poetry, sketches of life in colonial Australia, other journalism, memoirs, serialised novels including a work of gothic fiction, a pantomime that has not survived, and a recipe. Bibliographic Citation link.
1833 Mary Helena Wilson, who later became the popular Australian author MF (also known as 'Waif Wander' and 'W. W.'), was probably born in this year in Belfast. Bibliographic Citation link.
14 December 1855 The first known publication by MF, a poem titled "Song of the Gold Diggers", appeared in the Mount Alexander Mail under the initials 'M. H. F.' Bibliographic Citation link.
By 14 October 1865 MF was very probably the author of the anonymous short story "The Stolen Specimens" printed in The Australian Journal. If she was, this makes her one of the first women to publish detective fiction. Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
By 7 November 1868 MF, as 'W. W.,' contributed to The Australian Journal the first of The Detective's Album series of stories (later collected as a volume): "The Red Room". Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
1871 MF published her collection The Detective's Album, which reprinted seven of her stories from the long-running series of the same title in The Australian Journal. Bibliographic Citation link.
September 1913 MF's final publication to appear in a journal or the like was "A Tragedy in the Silent Night" in The Australian Journal. Bibliographic Citation link.
MF must have died after she ceased sending new work to The Australian Journal in 1913; perhaps after it stopped reprinting her earlier pieces, in 1919. The actual date is unknown. The Journal paid for her burial, but apparently in somebody else's grave, whose location remains a mystery.  Bibliographic Citation link.
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