[Editor: This obituary, regarding Louisa Lawson, was published in The Northern Champion (Taree, NSW), 2 October 1920.]
The late Louisa Lawson.
(By George Black.)
Mrs. Louisa Lawson, who died on the 12th inst., aged 72 years, was well known to me 35 years ago, or more, when she occupied a roomy and old-fashioned cottage in Phillip Street — on the site of the Automobile Club, I think. One of the front rooms was used as a printing office, and thence was issued “The Republican,” a weekly which sprang into life, like the Republican Union, mainly because of the British Government’s contemptuous treatment of Australia, and especially through Lord Derby’s refusal to ratify Premier McIlwraith’s annexation of New Guinea.
In those days Henry Lawson and his sister Gertrude were children and they used to play in the ancient garden behind the cottage. She moved thence to Church Hill, and when “The Republican” fizzled out, she brought out, in 1888, a magazine of advanced thought for women with the aid of women compositors which was called “The Dawn,” and also a paper for children called, I think, “Young Australia,” which she sold to Frank Barnes and which was afterwards run, I believe, by a man named Keep, who was Tommy Walker’s secretary when he lectured on secularism and who for some time was Mrs. Lawson’s publisher.
She devoted much time to the women’s suffrage movement, of which the Australian pioneer was Miss Helen Harte. It was while she lived in York Street that Henry Lawson came down to the “Bulletin” office with his first poem — inspired by a fire which destroyed the Wentworth Hotel. Verses on the “Wreck of the Dunbar,” “Faces in the Street,” and the “Army of the Rear,” quickly followed. Then he ventured into prose with “His Father’s Mate” — founded on a tale told him by his mother, whose name properly was Larsen, since that was the cognomen of her husband, a Swedish miner, whom she married while he was working at Home Rule near Mudgee. A tall and powerful woman of striking personality and an effective public speaker, Mrs. Lawson owed her swarthy complexion, she said, to the strain of gipsy blood which ran through her veins. It was assuredly from her that her gifted son inherited his literary gifts.
The Northern Champion (Taree, NSW), 2 October 1920, p. 2
The author describes Henry Lawson’s father as Swedish, whereas he is generally recognised as being Norweigan.
See: Brian Matthews, “Lawson, Henry (1867–1922)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
The author refers to “Louisa Lawson, who died on the 12th inst.” (the 12th of this month); however, as Louisa Lawson died on 12 August 1920 (almost two months prior to the publication of this article), either a different wording was intended, or the article has been copied from another publication which was published in August 1920. A search of the Trove collection of historical newspapers did not locate another copy of this article; however, there are various newspapers which have not as yet been added to the collection, and so it is possible that an earlier copy of this article exists.
annexation of New Guinea = in 1883, the Queensland government, led by Sir Thomas McIlwraith, annexed the Territory of Papua (the south-east quarter of the island) for the British Empire; however, the British government refused to ratify the annexation; the British proclaimed the territory as a protectorate in 1884, naming it British New Guinea, and formally annexed it in 1888
See: 1) “Territory of Papua”, Wikipedia
2) “Territory of Papua and New Guinea”, Wikipedia
cognomen = a surname, a last name, a family name; any name, especially a nickname; a diminutive or shortened name (e.g. “Betsy” or “Betty” for “Elizabeth”, “Bob” or “Bert” for “Robert”, “Will” or “Willie” for “William”); a familiar name (e.g. “Hank” or “Harry” for “Henry”); a pet name (e.g. “babe”, “honey”, “princess”, “wombat”); the third (and normally last) name of an ancient Roman (e.g. “Caesar” in “Gaius Julius Caesar”)
Helen Harte = (1842-1908), feminism activist, temperance lecturer, and poet; she was born in Birmingham (England) in 1842, came to Australia in 1880, and died in South Yarra (Melbourne, Vic.) in 1908
See: 1) Helen D. Harris, “Hart, Helen (1842–1908)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Miss Helen Hart”, Malvern Standard (Prahran, Vic.), 18 July 1908, p. 5
3) “Helen Hart passes: A well-known woman: Much travelled lecturess: Temperance and women’s rights”, The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), 17 July 1908, p. 6
inst. = instant; in this month; a shortened form of the Latin phrase “instante mense”, meaning “this month”; pertaining to, or occurring in, the current month
Lord Derby = Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (1799-1869), a British politician, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1852, 1858-1859, 1866-1868)
See: “Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby”, Wikipedia
McIlwraith = Sir Thomas McIlwraith (1835-1900), a Queensland businessman and politician; he was born in Ayr (Scotland) in 1835, came to Australia in 1854, became Premier of Queensland (1879-1883, 1888, 1893), resigned from his Ministry position in 1897, and died in London in 1900
See: 1) Don Dignan, “McIlwraith, Sir Thomas (1835–1900)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Thomas McIlwraith”, Wikipedia
Republican Union = the Australian Republican Union, an organisation founded in 1887, being active from 1887 to 1888; its main aims were to establish an Australian Republic and to encourage a national Australian sentiment
thence = from that place or point, from there (therefrom); from that time (thereafter, thenceforth); from that circumstance, fact, reason, or source (therefore); from that source; following that
Raymond H. says
Dear Ed. I have no mistake to quibble with this time.
Rather, I will share a smile with you.
The very first line of what you have published here says:
“Mrs. Louisa Lawson, who died on the 12th inst., aged 72 years,…”
In your footnotes you kindly explain that “inst.” above is an abbreviation from the Latin for ‘this month’.
However, as the item was published on the 2nd of the month (October); the 12th of the month was yet to arrive, yet she was already dead.
It would seem therefore that the author had written the item in mid-to -late September, sometime immediately after Louisa’s death; and this had not been picked up by the editor for the publication briefly therafter, early in the following month.
Accordingly, no quibble with you; but a quibble with the original editor who failed to pick up the “inst.” and substitute it with “ult.” for ‘ultimo mense’ — last month.
Thanks as always. Raymond.
Well-spotted. That discrepancy should have been picked up, but wasn’t.
An explanatory note has been added to the “Editor’s notes” section.
It’s good to have someone with an eagle eye and a quick mind who is able to spot such errors.
Thank you for your contribution. Much appreciated.