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Lawson, Louisa (1848–1920)

from Sun (Sydney)

The death in Sydney last week of Louisa Lawson, at the age of 72, removes one of the most remarkable women New South Wales has produced. Few people know of the personality which gave Henry Lawson his genius, and fewer still knew of the fight Mrs. Lawson made in the cause of downtrodden womanhood. She was always a rebel against the laws of convention which closed the door of the world's opportunities to women and opened it to men.

It was through Mrs. Lawson's untiring efforts that a shabby little wooden cross on Kendall's grave in Waverley Cemetery was replaced by a worthy monument, and she was the pioneer of the woman suffrage movement in New South Wales.

Mrs. Lawson championed the cause of women in every capacity, and in 1888 started "The Dawn," a magazine edited, printed, and published by women. The paper was the organ of "The Dawn" Club — a social and reform club for women — and was published for 17 years. One of the leading articles printed as late as February, 1905, dealt with the refusal of the Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals to appoint a woman resident officer. In the fifteen years since then three women medical officers and one scientific chemist— all residents — have been appointed to Prince Alfred Hospital, and two women are on the staff of Sydney Hospital.

Mrs. Lawson had a particular understanding for women whose lives were set in hard places and all her dreams were directed towards bettering conditions for the weary, sad-eyed mothers who used to come to "The Dawn" office in George-street. She had an unbounded faith in woman's wisdom and capability, and one of her characteristic comments was that if you want real practical commonsense, an old woman with a black eye, mending her husband's clothes on the Rocks will give you more true philosophy than a Parliament of men will talk in 12 months.

Some of Mrs. Lawson's own verse is collected in "The Lonely Crossing and Other Poems," the second edition of which was published at "The Dawn" office in 1909. The similarity of thought and expression in the verses of Mrs. Lawson and those of her son is particularly noticeable.

An improved buckle and strap for mailbags was invented by Mrs. Lawson. She noted the waste of wax and string and efficiency with the old clumsy method, then set to work and made a patent fastener, which was adopted by the department.

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'Lawson, Louisa (1848–1920)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/lawson-louisa-7121/text35156, accessed 17 November 2018.

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