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Skinner, Mary Louise (1876 - 1955)


19 September 1876
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
25 May 1955
York, Western Australia, Australia


Born in Perth - the niece of Western Australian Premier George Leake - M. L. Skinner moved with her family to England and Ireland in 1878, and then attended an academy for young ladies in Edinburgh. Later Skinner trained as a nurse and worked for the Royal Hospital for Women and Children, London; she also wrote for the Daily Mail. Returning to Perth in 1900 she continued nursing and began to publish in the Western Mail and West Australian. Later on Skinner studied midwifery in London and wrote a textbook, Midwifery Made Easy (1912). In 1913 she went to Kashmir, India, where she joined Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. In 1917 she joined the Australian Imperial Force and established hospitals in the bush at Wagin and Katanning, Western Australia. Skinner served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment during World War I; her first book, Letters of a V.A.D. (1918), was published under the pen name of R.E. Leake. Meeting D.H. Lawrence in 1922, she collaborated with him in the writing of The Boy in the Bush (1924). Her later novels include Black Swans (1925) and the comic adventure, Tucker Sees India (1937). Skinner was awarded life membership of the Fellowship of Australian Writers in the early 1950s.

Published resources


  • Lawrence, D. H. and Skinner, M. L., The boy in the bush, Martin Secker, London, 1924. Details
  • Skinner, M. L., Black swans : rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno, Jonathan Cape Limited, London, 1925, 383 pp. Details
  • Skinner, M. L., Men are we, People's Printing and Publishing Co., Perth, 1927, 32 pp. Details