“suppose you come down from the clouds” – feedback to aspiring writers

Back in 2011, I wrote a post about Louisa Lawson in support of the digitisation of her ground-breaking newspaper, The Dawn. That project was successfully crowd-sourced through the efforts of Donna Benjamin, and editions are now accessible via Trove, The National Library of Australia’s digital collection.

You can find more information about Louisa Lawson’s life over here on the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.

dwpicture - royalty free Louisa Lawson

There is much source material available in The Dawn which may well appear in future Now and Then postsToday’s offering, though, features a selection of feedback for would-be contributors to the publication which ran from 1888-1905.

The regular column Answers to Correspondents incorporated advice, household hints, subscription details and responses to unsolicited stories and verse. Here’s a selection of mostly short, sweet and very direct feedback to hopeful correspondents gleaned from editions of The Dawn on Trove.

1 Dec 1896

M.B.W.  Story hardly concise enough and the incidents want rearranging.

V. S.  Not quite up to standard, would not the first theme be sufficient for one poem. Try again.

1 Jan 1900

Myra Howard.  You have a very good idea of rhyme and metre but not mechanical skill enough for the mythical theme you have chosen. Suppose you come down from the clouds and try something more mundane.

Isabel.  It would be a good plan to study the characteristics of a paper you intend writing for before commencing the work. It will save the editors time as well as your own.

1 Oct 1902

Anonymous.  Why make [your] first attempt on broken verse? Why not try simple subjects in regular metre?

1 Aug 1903

Cissie (Newcastle).  The Spelling Book Superceded will give you the instructions you seem to need for correct verse writing.

1 June 1905

Literary.    If you distrust your own judgment concerning your work, then submit it to some capable and impartial critic. Avoid consulting any relative, friend, or literary acquaintance unless you are certain that the one you select is clear-headed and hard-hearted enough not only to consider fairly what you have written, but also to tell you without, fear or favour exactly what he thinks of it.

1 July 1905

the R.W. and B.  Would you kindly send your name and address and your story “Australian Bobby” will be returned to you. The story is not without merit but it is rather crude, and you would do well to rewrite it.

C. M. (Taralga).  Your story “The True and the False” has been received, and if you forward a stamp it will be returned to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edward Lear

Thanks to Project Gutenberg, many out-of-print publications are freely available online.

Edward Lear is mostly known for his nonsense verse, the first of which he published in 1846.  A Book of Nonsense was published when Lear was around 34 years old. It included short limerick verses like this one.

Book of Nonsense 1846 - Edward Lear

It wasn’t until around 1870, when Lear was approaching the age of 60, that his famous The Owl and the Pussycat appeared in the book, Nonsense Songs.

Owl and the Pussy Cat - Nonsense Songs 1871

His earliest work showcased his considerable talent as an artist. Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae was published in 1832, when Lear was just 20 years old. Forty-two colour plates of parrots are available for perusal via the link above. If you’re interested in some more biographical detail of this 20th child of 21 children, head over here to the Poetry Foundation.


Parrots - Edward Lear

Edward Lear - Rainbow LorikeetEdward Lear - sulphur-crested cockatoo

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org


Title: Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidæ, or Parrots
       The greater part of them species hitherto unfigured,
              containing forty-two lithographic plates, drawn from life,
              and on stone

Author: Edward Lear

Release Date: July 24, 2014 [EBook #46392]
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: A Book of Nonsense

Author: Edward Lear

Release Date: October 8, 2004 [eBook #13646]

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: Nonsense Songs

Author: Edward Lear