Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Henry Lawson’s birthday - Trove Tuesday

June 17th, marks Henry Lawson’s 146th birth date but did you know there is a connection between Lawson and the Hawkesbury district?

Henry Lawson (1867-1922) was born in 1867 in Grenfell and after a difficult childhood, went onto become one of Australia’s literary personalities.

After gaining a reputation as a writer of short stories and verse, by the early 1900s Henry’s career declined. His life often spiralled out of control but for the latter part of his life, he was cared for by his loyal friend, Mrs Isabella Byers. Mrs Byers operated the North Sydney Coffee Palace, and was herself a poet and an admirer of Lawson’s talent. On 2 September 1922, Lawson died of cerebral haemorrhage in Isabella’s care.

Isabella Byers was in fact Isabella Ward and was born in the Hawkesbury, daughter of James and Isabella Ward. In 1885, Isabella married Charles Byers but the couple apparently separated, with Isabella living independently. After devoting over twenty years of her life to the care of Henry Lawson, Isabella passed away in November 1930 aged 82 years. 

Sydney Morning Herald 14 November 1930 p. 8 
Her brother Joseph William Ward, was elected an alderman of Windsor Municipal Council and in 1910 became Mayor. Joseph was originally a carpenter by trade and then established his own business in Windsor. His son then operated his business while Joseph went into farming. Joseph was well-known around the Hawkesbury district and was heavily involved in the community through his work with the volunteers, sport and politics. Around the time the War commenced, the Ward’s moved to Sydney. Joseph’s wife Ambrosine Isabella (nee Bushell) died in 1926 and Joseph died in 1928 aged 82.   Both are buried at St. Matthew’s Church of England Cemetery, Windsor. 

The Good Wards of Windsor compiled by Olive Lawson, and published by DeerubbinPress has additional information about the Ward family.  Read some of Henry Lawson’s titles online for free.

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