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Gullett, Sir Henry Somer (Harry) (1878–1940)

by F.M.C.

The world is the poorer for the loss of Harry Gullett of whom however great his merits as a Parliamentarian, politics never knew the best. His real profession was journalism and therein he was one of the leaders of the times. His friends were legion in England and America as well as in his own country for Harry Gullett could not live in any community for twenty-four hours without making friends. Perhaps it is for his great qualities as a comrade especially within his old profession, that great numbers of men and women will best remember him.

There was some Irish mixture in his blood that made him of quick sympathies, hot in any cause that touched him, and in general (as one said of him who knew him best) a “hungry man”. He was an ideal journalist and for most of his active newspaper life any collection of Australian journalists would probably have named him as the first among them for facility in his work, versatility in its range, and knowledge of men and affairs. As gallery writers did in those days, he entered into all the great political fights of the first years of Federation, knew intimately the chief combatants in the arena, and became an ardent admirer and supporter of John Christian Watson, the first Federal leader of the political Labour Party.

Like other Australian journalists in the years before the last war, he went to London to try his fortune, and those days were for some of us who survive him, as certainly for himself, some of the happiest in our lives. Gullett’s acquaintance was of the most catholic, but with the happy facility for making friends among all and sundry he never failed either to make his way, as a journalist should, in the circle of men of influence and authority or to be acknowledged by that circle when once he had entered it.

He bore a light heart through fair days and days not so fair, and in every company his sane and cheerful spirits were infectious. There was some natural quality about him that compelled notice, and a gathering of strangers into which he might suddenly be introduced would be apt to remember him for long afterwards. It took a great deal to make any but the most ephemeral impression upon the seasoned members of the British war correspondents’ mess at G.H.Q. during the last war. The first night Harry Gullett dined there all newspaper despatches were late and short, and some of the correspondents were seriously debated for days afterwards whether this Australian could be right and, as he prophesied at their dinner table, the British Government would after the war really have to repudiate the internal war debt. 

On both sides of the Empire there are many who will pause for more than a moment to lament Harry Gullett’s passing, and more than a few for whom something of a light will have gone out of life.

Original publication

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Citation details

F.M.C., 'Gullett, Sir Henry Somer (Harry) (1878–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/gullett-sir-henry-somer-harry-448/text449, accessed 22 November 2017.

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