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The literary Dawn : Re-reading Louisa Lawson's poetry and politics

Volume 39 Issue 1/2 (2014)

Abstract: Scholarship on Louisa Lawson and the Dawn has necessarily often focussed on the important and wide-ranging achievements of her feminist work for women's legal, social and political rights. Indeed, as Audrey Oldfield notes, "Louisa Lawson was one of the most important figures in the New South Wales woman suffrage movement" (261). However, I want to focus here on the periodical publishing context of the Dawn as a means of pointing to further discussions of Lawson's significance as a poet. Megan Roughley has noted that the Dawn "was a forum for political causes, especially the movement for the emancipation and enfranchisement of women, and, as importantly to Louisa, the temperance movement" (ix), with influential articles appearing on a wide range of important issues including divorce reform. Yet, Lawson's construction of the Dawn was also highly literary from its first issue, with editorial choices and literary references reflecting her awareness of political and feminist literary culture. In addition to references such as the above quotation from Tennyson, Lawson included an epigraph from Joseph Addison's play Cato in the list of contents: "A day, an hour, in virtuous liberty, is worth a whole eternity in bondage." Citing Addison, a significant figure in the American Revolution, demonstrates Lawson's linking of radical class politics with feminism, as well as highlighting the importance of literary dialogues to Lawson's publishing work. Likewise, the concerns of Lawson's poetry are clearly situated within a continuing female tradition, and Lawson's poetry, when examined in the feminist literary context of the Dawn, reveals a radical and sophisticated poetics.

To cite this article: Hansord, Katie. The literary Dawn : Re-reading Louisa Lawson's poetry and politics [online]. Hecate, Vol. 39, No. 1/2, 2014: 188-201. Availability: <;dn=861207114722950;res=IELLCC> ISSN: 0311-4198. [cited 24 Jun 17].

Personal Author: Hansord, Katie; Source: Hecate, Vol. 39, No. 1/2, 2014: 188-201 DOI: Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 0311-4198 Subject: Lawson, Louisa, 1848-1920; Political science; Feminism; Australian poetry;

Database: Literature & Culture Collection