Lawson and England

By the late 1890s Lawson had had two books published (In the Days when the World was Wide, 1896 and While the Billy Boils, 1896) and was a popular and well-known author, writing prolifically for newspapers and magazines. However, he was still not able to support himself, his wife and two small children by writing alone.

With the help of the Governor of New South Wales, Earl Beauchamp, and two other sponsors Lawson and his family moved to England in 1900 after English publishers showed an interest in his work. They lived in the village of Harpenden in Hertfordshire for some months as well as in and around London.

Letter from Henry Lawson to T. Fisher Unwin, London. Click to enlarge.

  Typescript letter from Henry Lawson, Sydney, to T. Fisher Unwin, publisher, London, dated 28th June, 1899.

In this letter Lawson writes regarding possible future negotiations for English and colonial publication of his work. The letter was written from the office of the Bulletin, which had published much of Lawson's early prose and poetry. There is an accompanying letter from Thomas C. Lothian which remarks, "The Lawson letter is a good example of an author's disloyalty and ingratitude!".

Lawson Collection (Lawson 71)

Statement of account between Henry Lawson and James B. Pinker, page 1. Click to enlarge. Statement of account between Henry Lawson and James B. Pinker, page 2. Click to enlarge.

  Statement of Account between Henry Lawson and James B. Pinker, his literary agent in London, between 24th July, 1900 and 14th June, 1901.

The statement shows all transactions, including the sales of Lawson's stories and articles and the commissions deducted by Pinker (on the right hand page), and the charges by Pinker for typing Lawson's manuscripts and withdrawals by Lawson against the sales (on the left hand page). Lawson was in debt to Pinker for 31 pounds by December 1900.

According to Harry Chaplin "(Lawson) was fortunate in securing the services of J.B. Pinker to act as his agent, one who worked industriously in Lawson's interest. He was doubly fortunate in that he attracted the interest of William Blackwood, a kind and generous Scotsman."

Lawson Collection (Lawson 160)

Letter from Henry Lawson to William Blackwood. Click to see pages 1 - 3.

  Autograph letter from Henry Lawson to his publisher, William Blackwood, written from Charlton, Shepperton, Middlesex, no date.

On page two of the letter Lawson says:

" ... You may not know that the Bulletin and A & R are rival book publishers (the Bulletin the unsuccessful one). The Bulletin's literary editor is a cultured snob and unsuccessful author, hence I suppose the Bulletin's paltry reviews of my work."

Lawson Collection (Lawson 161)


Despite experiencing success with his writing in England, having three books published in two years (The Country I Come From, 1901, Joe Wilson and His Mates, 1901, Children of the Bush, 1902), Lawson's personal life suffered setbacks. He had become increasingly dependent on drink and Bertha was admitted to an asylum, possibly having suffered a nervous breakdown. They returned to Australia in 1903 and separated soon afterwards.

Letter from Henry Lawson to Methuen. Click to enlarge.

  Autograph letter from Henry Lawson to the manager of Methuen and Co., London, dated 2nd February, 1902 and written from the office of the Bulletin after his return to Australia.

The letter was wrongly dated 1902, being received by Methuen in March 1903. Lawson asks for permission to include "the rhymes scattered through Children of the Bush" in a new volume of poems he wants to publish in Australia. Methuen granted permission.

Lawson Collection (Lawson 81)

Letter from Earl Beauchamp to Henry Lawson. Click to see pages 1 - 4.

  Autograph letter from Earl Beauchamp to Henry Lawson dated 16th January, 1916.

The letter concerns Lawson's dedication of My Army, O, My Army! and Other Songs (1915) to Beauchamp. Earl Beauchamp became the Governor of New South Wales in 1899 at the age of twenty-six. He helped Lawson move to England in 1900.

Lawson Collection (Lawson 108)

Dedication to Earl Beauchamp. Click to enlarge.

  Lawson's dedication to Earl Beauchamp in My Army, O, My Army! (1915).

It was drafted by J.F. Archibald and signed by Henry Lawson. It reads:

"Dedicated, without his permission, to my generous patron in two hemispheres, Earl Beauchamp, erstwhile of New South Wales, who was too democratic for the country he was sent to govern!"

Lawson Collection (Lawson 108)

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