When female Australian Britishsubjects won the vote with the Uniform Franchise Act (June 16, 1902), Louisa Lawson, who had had only two years of schooling, was hailed by her political sisters as "The Mother of Womanhood Suffrage". (Women in South Australia were the first in the world to win the right to vote and stand for election.)
Lawson was a poor, Mudgee-born bush battler, forced by marital breakdown, economic depression and drought to move with her four surviving children to the city. She was an idiosyncratic but indomitable woman, a prodigious worker, powerful writer and fine poet, a spiritualist, farmer, inventor, postmistress and shopkeeper.
Henry Lawsonat the Australian Government's About Australia category.
If any Almy reader could recommend to the editors of the Culture Portalthat Faces in the Street
and the Lawson Chronology, or any of my links about the Lawsons, stop rejecting them after all these years
I'd be amazed if they do, and grateful to you. As you can see at Search, there are about 250 links,
and often there's a new Lawson-oriented page in Recently updated pagesas I'm an avid Lawsonian.
Lawson spent thirty-five years of her hard life fighting for women's rights. She founded the Association of Women, and with Henry, in 1887 - '88 she published the journal, The Republican. Louisa Lawson then became founder, owner, publisher and editor of The Dawn, the new nation's foremost women's political magazine, announcing that it would battle for women's rights, and the vote. "Why should one half of the world govern the other half?" was Lawson's rallying cry.
While she supported her children in a little house at 138 Phillip Street near Sydney's docks, she had to teach herself the difficult trade of setting lead type, because of a black-ban by the New South Wales Typographical Association. The Postmaster-General's Department refused to register The Dawn for sending through the post. In 1891, Lawson helped launch (with Maybanke Anderson, Rose Scott, and Dora Montefiore) the Womanhood Suffrage League of NSW. She also founded the Dawn Club, which met in various locations in Sydney, including the tea rooms of the remarkable Quong Tart ...
Australian politicians and educators, particularly conservative ones, tend to promote the myth of Henry Lawson as a homespun rural author, and consequently, although there is some truth in it, a bucolic view of Lawson is very widespread – he has been washed in antiseptic and billy tea. For example, one website says "Henry Lawson lived in the country on a selection in Sapling Gully approximately 6 kms. from Mudgee in New South Wales." In fact, from the age of 17 to his death at 55, Lawson spent almost his entire life in Sydney, a bustling world city twice as populous as San Francisco in his heyday 1890s, where he mixed with the bohemian and (often extremely) radical intellectuals and activists of the era, as did his mother for the last 37 years of her life. A large part of Henry's writing, especially his poetry, was political, swinging between what we would call today "left" and "right". Progressives and reactionaries, unsure of what to do with him, have preferred to ignore him or make him a kind of literary jackaroo. Louisa Lawson's life, too, probably because she was both poor and in many ways excessively progressive for her times, has been virtually swept from public consciousness despite her incredible achievements. I hope the Almanac's Lawsons Chronology might in some small way help to correct the historical revision of the whole 'Lawson myth', by showing these two Aussies in context.
Wilson's Blogmanac, founded on April 26, 2003. Dedicated to the 353 victims of Australia's shame, the SIEVX disaster,
and casualties of poverty and authority worldwide. Public Domain (an explanation is at Wikipedia), Pip Wilson, 2003-2011. But kindly email if you republish. I'm currently launching and promoting the free e-book, 'Microminibliss', for
those interested in my new links directory, Bellingen (Australia), and my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). (Use Search for that.) So, kindly Google the word 'Microminibliss', and some links will come up, not 25 million in the usual Google manner.