Famous Deaf Australian

Judith Arundell Wright 
(31 May 1915 – 25 June 2000)
Photo credit: National Library of Australia 

Judith Arundell Wright

Campaigner for Indigenous land rights, Environmentalist, Australian poet

Judith Wright was a poet, essayist, conservationist and campaigner for Indigenous rights. She was the second Australian to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Judith Wright was not born deaf; however, she started to lose her hearing in her mid-20s and became completely deaf by 1992. As she became progressively deaf, academic Julian Croft is said to have commented her deafness seemed to reinforce her feelings about language. "Her deafness gave her poetry readings a directness and force any poet would envy," he said.

Wright was 25 when her first poem was published and her first collection of verse, The Moving Image, was published in 1946. She went on to publish many other works including poetry, a biography of her pioneering family, children’s books and her autobiography.

Wright was actively involved with issues relating to conservation, wildlife perseveration and Aboriginal rights. These interests were reflected in her poetry and writings, which included her book, The Cry for the Dead (1981), about the treatment of Indigenous Australians by settlers in Queensland from the 1840s to the 1920s.

Wright was the first woman to be appointed to the Australian National University Council as the Governor-General’s nominee. She was awarded the Commonwealth Literary Fund Fellowships in 1949 and 1962, a Creative Arts Fellowship (ANU) in 1974, a senior Anzac Fellowship in 1976 and a three-year Australia Council Literature Board Senior Writers Fellowship in 1977.

Judith Wright died of a heart attack in Canberra on 25 June 2000.

Notable Awards and Achievements:

  • The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (1991)
  • NSW Premier’s Special Award for Poetry (1991)
  • Aboriginal Treaty Committee – Secretary (1979  - 1983)
  • Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland – founding member and President (1962 – 1976)


Deaf Can:Do Celebrates National Week of Deaf People 2017. Check out event details.