Magwere answer'd nothing, standing still
And very rigid in the mocking sun;
And knew not any answer for the wind.
(Magwere, Who Waits Wondering, 50-52)
Born in Grahamstown, South Africa, in 1885, Kingsley Fairbridge was educated at St. Andrew's College, but at eleven, his family moved to Umtali in the eastern highlands of Rhodesia. He was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, where he graduated with a first from Exeter College in October 1908. In the following year he published Veld Verse and Other Lines. His life work was the founding of the "Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies", afterwards incorporated as the Child Emigration Society. The Fairbridge Farm Schools were the fruit of this. To save working-class children in Britain from an impoverished life, he proposed to resettle them to overseas colonies. He opened a school for this purpose at Pinjarra near Perth in 1913. Two more schools opened at Molong, near Orange, in 1937. and at Glenmore, Victoria. Fairbridge also established the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School at Cowichan Station, near Duncan, on Vancouver Island, in Canada, in 1935. This continued operating until 1950. Fairbridge died in Perth just 39 years old, July 19, 1924, weakened by malaria contracted in Mashonaland during his youth. He is buried in Pinjarra, 120 miles south of Perth. His wife, Ruby Whitmore, a nurse he met in Oxford, wrote of his verse in December 1927: "The Veld was his public school, and in this school he learned, among other things, to understand the native mind and the mind and ways of the animals about him. The natives responded to his sympathy and gave him their stories and legends" (Veld Verse, v).
With thanks to Philip Herringer in Adelaide, South Australia (email correspondence July 16, 2003).
Given name: Kingsley
Family name: Fairbridge
Birth date: 1885
Death date: 1924
Buried at: Pinjarra, Australia