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Cross, Zora Bernice May (1890 - 1964)

18 May 1890
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
22 January 1964
New South Wales, Australia
Actor, Author, Journalist, Poet, Print Journalist and Teacher


Zora Cross was, among other things, a poet and author of children's verse. She wrote for the Brisbane Daily Mail as a freelance journalist, and was drama critic for the magazines Green Room and the Lone Hand.


The daughter of Australian-born parents, accountant Ernest William Cross and his wife Mary Louisa Eliza Ann (née Skyring), Zora Cross was educated in Sydney from 1905. She began work as a primary school teacher, but left the profession to give birth to a daughter who died as an infant. She married actor Stuart Smith in 1911, but insisted upon living separately. The marriage was dissolved in 1922. Zora gave birth to a son, Norman Garvin, in 1914, after a 'mysterious love affair' (ADB), and later had two daughters - Davidina and April - to her de facto husband, Bulletin 'Red Page' editor David McKee Wright. The eldest, Davidina, predeceased her mother in 1941.

Zora's first book of poems, A Song of Mother Love, was published in Brisbane in 1916. That same year she attempted publication of her first novel, on an Aboriginal theme, but was unsuccessful. In 1917 she published a second collection of poetry, Songs of Love and Life, comprising sixty love sonnets: 'the first sustained expression in Australian poetry of erotic experience from a woman's point of view' (ADB). A number of poems were published in the Bulletin. The Lilt of Life, published in 1918, ran along similar lines, but the inspiration behind the poems - Zora's relationship with David Wright, who had four sons to Margaret Fane - was the stuff of scandal. Zora also wrote verse for children, including The City of Riddle-mee-ree in 1918, and Elegy on an Australian Schoolboy, in memory of her soldier brother, in 1921.

When David Wright died suddenly in 1928, Zora supported herself and her three children by working as a freelance journalist (particularly for the Brisbane Daily Mail), teacher of elocution, actor and drama critic. She attempted to write a trilogy of novels on a Roman theme, but never completed the work. She died of heart disease in the home she had shared with Wright at Glenbrook, in the Blue Mountains, and was buried at Emu Plains.


c. 1930 - c. 1960
Career in journalism active

Sources used to compile this entry: Green, Dorothy, 'Cross, Zora Bernice May (1890 - 1964)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,

Archival resources

State Library of Victoria

  • Papers of William Peter Hurst, 1800 - 1936, MS 6107, MS 7856, M 6058; Hurst, William Peter; State Library of Victoria. Details

Barbara Lemon

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National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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