Answers to Questions


LAWSON (Australian Poet), Harpenden, Summer 1900

December, 2005




Pip Wilson (pipwilson @t acay.com.au) of Sandy Beach, NSW, Australia, writes: Australia's best-known poet Henry Lawson lived from July-September at 'Spring Villa', Cowper Rd, Harpenden, Herts. I'm writing a novel about him and looking for information about the town in 1900 -- pubs, business names, etc. There is more information about him on http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/lawsons/lawson_chronology3.html, including:

July-September 1900: A woman friend (the wife of a former Bulletin writer) of Bertha Lawson's found the Lawsons a cottage in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. After at first finding the locals rather stand-offish, the Lawsons soon made some friends, mostly from the middle class. Henry was looked down upon for not dressing formally as a rising author ought to do. His writing style became more formal, less "bush".

There are two main sources which are available online - and hence readily accessible from Australia.

Digital Library of Historical Directories: This has the 1899 and 1902 Kelly's Directories online for free, and these include Harpenden. They list the businesses and the private residents.

The 1901 Census covers the whole local population, names, ages, occupations, where they live, etc. so that existing household units can be identified. In particular you should be able to identify other people living in Cowper Road. To see the type of information available see the census examples in the tutorial. (Because of your interest you might find it cheaper to buy the 1901 CD for Hertfordshire rather than pay for a large number of individual pages online.)

I am sure that if anyone has any information on Henry Lawson's short stay in Harpenden they will let you know.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

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