Faces in the Street (novel)
Media release, December 1, 2006
<Head>What school didn't teach you about Louisa and Henry Lawson
<Sub-head> Australian drought, terrorism, sedition, corruption, insanity, love affairs
(For background to the unknown Lawson and his mother, read
Faces in the Street, by Pip Wilson; 585pp, paperback, perfect bound, 2nd edition 2006; ISBN 1430300213
'Faces in the Street' (http://www.henrylawson.info), this summer's big novel by NSW author Pip Wilson, will surprise and perhaps even upset many Australians. The book reveals a well-researched Henry Lawson vastly different from the usual portrayal of him as a bush character with a billy-can. This is fair dinkum city Lawson.
'Faces in the Street' is a 585-page, eye-opening yarn about Henry Lawson, his suffragette mother, Louisa Lawson, their struggles, loves and relationships with famous Australians.
Henry Lawson's associations with the drought of the early 1890s, literature, alcoholism, political corruption, racism, insanity and Australian terrorism are all explored, with meticulous research behind the extraordinary tale, yet with more than a swag of humour.
"Good stuff – experientially, politically, anecdotally, stylistically, narratively, romantically, alcoholically. What more can one say?" So wrote Douglas Houston, PhD, co-editor of the Oxford Good Fiction Guide, of this book.
Who would have known till this book came out, for example, that Henry Lawson may be found in the 1901 UK Census living with a much younger woman, while his wife was in a London mental hospital? Author Pip Wilson discovered this in his year of research and is the first to write about it.
Wilson contends that not only has Henry Lawson's mother ('Mother of Women's Suffrage') been almost forgotten despite helping to win women the vote worldwide, but also the true Henry Lawson has been neglected, turned into something of a swagman, although he spent almost his entire adult life in Sydney and London, mixing with radicals, bohemians and activists – even the occasional terrorist, and a swag of anarchists.
" ... an examination of two humans who love one another, but are so different that their life is a roller-coaster ride. An extraordinary story, by an extraordinary man," wrote Anita L. Wynn, American poet and author.
The novel's cover announces: "She struggled to get women the vote. Her son was Australia's most famous writer. They drove each other crazy." And crazy they were, both serving their time in ‘mental asylums’ as they were then known, as did Henry’s wife and two brothers, and at least two of his bosses, including Bulletin publisher JF Archibald and the corrupt publisher, NSW Parliamentarian and probable murderer, John Norton.
More than this, however, here are Henry Lawson's relationships with many other famed Australians, such as his brother-in-law, Jack Lang, (later Premier of NSW), his lovers (including poet Dame Mary Gilmore and the mysterious Hannah Thornburn) and his mates (such as Banjo Paterson). Of course, the book has the likes of Billy Hughes (later PM of Australia, who, like Jack Lang, was printing an anarchist journal in Lawson’s Sydney) and Henry's many talented Australian contemporaries, as well as visitors to Australia such as Mark Twain, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Robert Louis Stevenson.
When Wilson gave a lecture on the Lawsons at Coffs Harbour City Library recently, the interest ran so high there was standing room only and people unfortunately had to be turned away at the door. Enzo Accadia, a Team Leader at the library, said that the talk was "enlightening and entertaining, giving an insight into an Australia and famous Australians who people think they know about, but are so different in the light of Pip Wilson's research. He opened up another world."
More background to Faces in the Street is available online at http://www.henrylawson.info. Reviews – and the entire novel – may be read for free online and the novel purchased at the lowest price via that website.
Note to editor: It would be very much appreciated if the website http://www.henrylawson.info could be mentioned.
Front cover: http://www.henrylawson.info/images/faces_front_new.jpg (1,083 kb)
Back cover: http://www.henrylawson.info/images/faces_back_new.jpg (1,886 kb)
Author Pip Wilson: http://www.henrylawson.info/images/pip_wilson.jpg (197 kb)
Pip Wilson is available for interview on (02) 6656 1809 or 0407 249 335. His resumé is at http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/resume.html
What's it about?
Henry Lawson's love affairs with Mary Gilmore and others.
Henry and terrorists, revolutionists and anarchists.
What was Mary Gilmore doing with a future Prime Minister and a bomb?
Louisa Lawson's struggle for women's rights.
Henry and his brother-in-law, Jack Lang, dodging the police.
Drought, unemployment and poverty, and Henry's long, hot tramp through the Outback desert to Hungerford.
Lawsons in an earthquake in New Zealand.
Henry and his wife in London. His wife Bertha in a mental asylum.
Who is Lizzie Humphrey?
Henry Lawson meets Mark Twain.
Henry's tragic love for Hannah Thornburn.
Henry's criminally insane brother.
Louisa's descent into pain, violence, insanity.
Foundations of the Australian Labor movement.
Miles Franklin, Banjo Paterson, Billy Hughes, William Lane and scores of others.
Unusual origins of songs such as ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Dog on the Tuckerbox’.
John Norton (murderer?) and friends – outrageous parliamentarians.
The struggle for Federation and a republic.
New Australia: Mary Gilmore & 100s of Aussies in South American commune.
Poverty, rejection, heartbreak; Henry's suicide attempt.
Henry's decline into alcoholism and death.
Much more, and plenty of humour.
Purchase at lowest price ($AU29.95) here
or at one of your favourite online booksellers