This book contains poems written by Richard Lawson and Emile Louis Meyrat when they were fellow teachers at the Warrnambool College/Academy early in the 20th century. Dr Richard Lawson (1875-1971) was born in Warrnambool, the fifth child of Thomas and Susan Lawson (shopkeepers in Timor Street). He attended primary schools in Warrnambool and Cobden and then went to Stanley’s Warrnambool Grammar School where he won a scholarship to attend Melbourne University. In 1899 he returned to Warrnambool and in partnership with William Oakley ran a school, the Warrnambool Academy. They were firstly established in Koroit Street and then at ‘Upton’ in Canterbury Road. They bought out the school formed by the amalgamation of Scott’s School and Stanley’s Grammar (Warrnambool College) and the school was then known as the Warrnambool College/Academy. This school closed in 1911 and Lawson became a teacher at the Warrnambool High School. He later became a lecturer at Melbourne Teachers’ College and gained a Doctorate with a thesis on literary translations. With James Elijah Lawson produced four volumes of ‘The National Grammar’ and two English Literature text books. In 1924 he became Professor of Education at the University of Otago, New Zealand. While in Warrnambool Lawson was an active sportsman, enjoying games of tennis and cricket.
Emile Louis Meyrat, a South Australia born about 188, was educated at Way College and was a teacher at Lawson’s school. He and his wife, Annie Hawkins, had a daughter, Pauline Marie Louise, born in Hawthorn in 1909, but the couple divorced in 1914. In 1912 Meyrat was in Switzerland and published a poem called ‘Eurydicean’. Meyrat dedicated his poems in ‘Poems By Two Friends’ to his father’s memory. The date of the book, ‘Poems By Two Friends’ is printed in the Preface of the book – ‘May 20, 1909, Warrnambool College’.
This book is of great significance as it is an original copy of the poems produced by two people, Emile Louis Meyrat and Richard Lawson, teachers at the Warrnambool College/Academy in 1909. This school is important in the history of education in Warrnambool and Richard Lawson is a key figure in this history. He also later had a distinguished career in education in both Australia and New Zealand. This book is rare and one of the few early 20th century books surviving that was written by local Warrnambool people and produced in Warrnambool. It is also of literary interest as an example of the type of poems produced by well-educated people early in the 20th century – classical and florid in style.
This is a soft cover book of 100 pages. The cover is dark green with the title of the book in green print inside an ornamental pattern of lines. There is a Latin quotation inside the front page and some of the poems have French or Latin sub-titles. The book has an Index listing the 61 poems and a Preface. The book is bound with staples, glue and some stitching using string.
Inscriptions & markings
Front cover and inside first page: Stamp of Warrnambool & District Historical Society