Woman Lawson, Louisa (1848 - 1920)

New South Wales, Australia
New South Wales, Australia
Journalist, Suffragist and Women's rights activist
Alternative Names
  • Larsen, Louisa (Alternative spelling of Lawson)

Written by Patricia Grimshaw, The University of Melbourne

Louisa Lawson was an outstanding leader in the campaign for women's right in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She shared prominence in New South Wales with Rose Scott as a promoter of the vote and other women's issues though she did so in a more independent style. Born in 1848 in rural NSW, at eighteen years of age she married Peter (Niels) Larsen, later Lawson and farmed alongside him during her first years of married life. She bore five children, including Henry Lawson, the well-known writer. She moved to Sydney in 1883 where she supported her family by undertaking washing and sewing, and taking in boarders. In 1887 she bought the Republican and with her son Henry edited and wrote most of the paper's copy. In 1888 she established the Dawn, a journal devoted to women's concerns that continued publication until 1905. In May 1889 Louisa launched the campaign for female suffrage and announced the formation of the Dawn Club where women could meet to discuss reform questions and gain experience in public speaking. After the franchise was won Lawson continued to promote law reform and the extension of women's work opportunities. She died in 1920, remembered more for her relationship to her famous son, than for her own leadership of the women's cause (The Byron Bay Record, 4 September 1920, p. 4).

Published Resources


  • Matthews, Brian, Louisa, McPhee Gribble/Penguin, Fitzroy, Victoria, 1988. Details
  • Ollif, Lorna, Louisa Lawson, Henry Lawson's Crusading Mother, Rigby, Adelaide, South Australia, 1978. Details

Newspaper Articles

Online Resources