Tierney, John

John Lawrence Tierney MA Dip Ed [1] was a school teacher and author. He was born on 17 June 1892 at Eurunderee, near Mudgee, as the youngest of eleven children to John Tierney (a school teacher from Ireland) and his German wife Elizabeth nee Rheinberger. He attended Eurunderee Public School (where his father had taught Henry Lawson) and Mudgee District School. He entered Teachers College Sydney in 1911 and commenced teaching in 1913. He obtained his bachelor and Master of Arts at Sydney University by part time study. In 1923 he taught at St George’s College Weybridge and completed his Diploma of Education at the University of Oxford.

In 1932 Tierney married according to Catholic rites, Effie Isabelle Brodie, a clerk and an Anglican. Initially they lived in Pennant Hills until 1939 when they moved to Beecroft where they remained most of the rest of their lives.

From the family farm at Eurunderee to growing an orchard in Galston, Tierney battled with the intrusion of the Australian bush and dug a trench around his property to prevent the roots of bush trees from taking the nutrients from his land. The joys and dangers of this trench became a matter of family lore. 

His wife Effie was a friend of the writer and historian Marjorie Barnard – with who she had worked in the library of the Technical College, Sydney. They both encouraged to write stories and submit them to the Bulletin. They first appeared in the Bulletin in 1942 under the pen-name Brian James. He published a number of short stories and novels between then and 1965.

Douglas Stewart, a writer and editor of the Bulletin described him as “long and stooping, with a sharp inquisitive nose and small bright darting blue eyes. He had a genial, sympathetic manner and, with his reddish, weather-tanned face, looked like a farmer or the priest of a country parish.”

He died on 11 February 1972, survived by his wife, their daughter and 2 of their 3 sons.

[1]        Most of the information in this biography derives from Australian Dictionary of Biography (Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2002) Vol. 16