Mosaic created by Cynthia Turner at tiny park in Harnett St, Marrickville, Australia
Who was Louisa Lawson?
Louisa Lawson (February 17, 1848 – August 12, 1920) was an Australian writer, publisher, suffragist, and feminist. Louisa Lawson was born and grew up in Mudgee, New South Wales. Her family was poor and as the eldest daughter of nine, she was forced to leave school at the age of thirteen. In 1866 Louisa married Niels Larsen (Peter Lawson); her husband was often absent leaving Louisa to raise four children on her own. In 1882 she took her children and moved to Sydney. She managed boarding houses and saved money that she used to buy a share in the radical pro-federation newspaper The Republican in 1887. With her earnings and experience from working on The Republican she was able in May 1888, to edit and publish The Dawn.
The Dawn was Australia’s first journal produced solely by women; it was published monthly and distributed throughout Australia and overseas. The Dawn had a strong feminist perspective, and discussed issues such as the women’s right to vote and assume public office, women’s education, women’s economic and legal rights, domestic violence, and temperance. The Dawn was published monthly for seventeen years (1888 – 1905) and at its height employed 10 female staff. Her son Henry Lawson also wrote poems and stories for the paper. The Dawn press printed Henry’s first book Short Stories in Prose and Verse in 1894.