A Wife's Heart (Henry and Bertha)

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Stephen Whiteside
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A Wife's Heart (Henry and Bertha)

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:53 am

Has anyone read "A Wife's Heart", by Kerrie Davies? It was published recently, and chronicles Henry Lawson's marriage to Bertha - a very sad tale, of course.

The book is well written and easy to read - comparing at one level the author's own experience as a single mother to that of Bertha.

I was expecting the book to come down harder on Henry than it does. It is pretty even-handed, but I think Kerrie Davies feels Bertha has been judged harshly by history, and wants to square the ledger somewhat.

It is interesting to see how the other artistic celebrities of the era line up. Norman Lindsay and his wife are very much in Bertha's camp, while Mary Gilmore sides strongly with Lawson.

Bertha successfully applied for a 'judicial separation' from Henry, but stopped short of an outright divorce. She called herself 'Mrs Lawson' for the rest of her life.

My own feeling is that it is best to try to avoid judging one party at the expense of another in a situation like this. They both lived very difficult lives in their own ways, and managed as best they could.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer

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Re: A Wife's Heart (Henry and Bertha)

Post by Shelley » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:03 pm

Hi Stephen

No, I haven't read this book, but it does sound interesting.

I guess it is not surprising that Mary Gilmore was on Henry's side - according to her own words, they were apparently once engaged, so perhaps she retained a soft spot for him - even if the relationship was doomed.

I agree with you about the dangers of being judgmental from a distance - no matter how good the research is, we have no way of really knowing the thoughts and feelings of others - let alone those who lived a century ago!

However, books like these do often give an insight into the historical tableau of the times - which is always enlightening.

Thanks for sharing the information.

Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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