Henry Lawson remembered

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Lawson who captured the spirit of Australia through his short stories and poems.

An exhibition to mark the occasion at Five Dock Library highlights his association with the City of Canada Bay. Born in Grenfell on the 17 June 1867, he spent the last period of his life at Abbotsford, where he died on the 2 September 1922. He was also one of the more famous patients at Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital at Concord which he described as ‘a stately home of Rest’ in his poem The Unknown Patient.

Today he is remembered by Henry Lawson Park at Abbotsford and a memorial and hall named in his honour at Abbotsford Public School.

There will also be talk about Henry Lawson’s life and work by Susannah Fullerton at Five Dock Library on Tuesday, 2 May at 6pm for 6.30pm start. More events are planned by the City of Canada Bay in June in Henry Lawson Park.

Above is a sketch of Lawson’s cottage at Abbotsford by John Barclay Godson (read more under comments).

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Posted on April 11, 2017, in Abbotsford and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Henry Lawson and Abbotsford

    Henry Lawson died in Abbotsford on 2 September 1922. He appears to have lived in two different houses, very close to each other, in Great North Road, opposite the present Abbotsford Public School, for a few months prior to his death in 1922.

    Colin Roderick, the renowned expert on Lawson, wrote about his death in his book The Real Henry Lawson, Rigby, 1982:

    ‘…in February [1922] [Harris] placed him [Lawson] with a Mrs. Wheatland in a cottage named ‘Ballarat’ on the Great North Road, Abbotsford… In March Mrs. Byers, who was holding £20 of the New South Wales Government’s allowance to Lawson, took a shabby cottage referred to as ‘Glenorman’ [Glenormonde], 441 Great North Road, Abbotsford, furnished it with a few sticks, and took Lawson in. There he lived for the few months remaining to him.’ (page 188)

    On page 191 of the same book there is a copy of an etching of the timber cottage where he died in Great North Road. The cottage has since been demolished and the site is now occupied by a cement-rendered brick house on the corner of Werona Avenue and Great North Road, next to the Presbyterian Church.

    Sands Directories for the period have been checked. There were no house numbers for Great North Road at this time and house names were sometimes, but not always, included. In 1924 (Sands refers to the year before) Mrs Isabel Byers lived two houses south of the corner of Werona Avenue and Great North Road; G.E. Wheatland lived in ‘Ballarat’ on the corner of Werona Avenue and Great North Road – this is now number 441. On the other corner of Werona Avenue was the Abbotsford Mission Church (now the Presbyterian Church) followed by the Manse then A.E. Hearn in ‘Glen Ormond’.

    Although there is a slight inconsistency between what is recorded in Sands and Colin Roderick’s statement, each of the three houses mentioned here were next door but one to each other on Great North Road.

    Lawson’s death registration lists the place of death as Great North Road. An obelisk was erected in the grounds of Abbotsford Public School in 1926 – it reads:
    ‘Erected 1926 by the residents to record where Henry Lawson died.
    75 yards S. 13 degrees W.’

    In 1938 Lawson was further remembered with the dedication of the Henry Lawson Park in Abbotsford.

    References (held by Local Studies)

    Jervis, James The Story of Drummoyne, 1890-1940 [Drummoyne, NSW?: Drummoyne Municipal Council], 1940.
    pages 19-20 ‘Henry Lawson, his association with Drummoyne’ has details of the dedication of Henry Lawson Park in 1938.

    Roderick, Colin The Real Henry Lawson Adelaide: Rigby, 1982.
    page 191 Reproduces an etching by John Barclay Godson of the cottage where Lawson died. The original is held by the National Library of Australia.

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