By Ken Goodwin (auth.)

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Aware of her husband's unreasonable antipathy and cruelty to Dawes, she finds him being slowly tortured to death on a suspended frame. She has him released from punishment, and leaves her husband to return to her father. North, infatuated with her, plans to leave too. But in his self-laceration and confusion he allows Dawes to impersonate him and escape. The escape is, however, only into a fatal storm and shipwreck. His Natural Life has the same kind of absorbing miasmic gloom as Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (1862).

The best of his work was done in the first fifteen years of his writing career. His prose was published in the story collections Short Stories in Prose and Verse (published by his mother, 1894), While the Billy Boils (1896), On the Track (1900), Over the Sliprails (1900), The Country I Come From (a retrospective selection published in Edinburgh, 1901), Joe Wilson and his Mates (another Edinburgh collection, 1901), and Children of the Bush (London, 1902). His verse appeared in In the Days when the World was Wide, and Other Verses (1896), Verses Popular and Humorous (1900) and When I Was King, and Other Verses (1905).

Lawson's diatribe is directed against both the gaol conditions and the administration of justice. ). The clever scoundrels are all outside, and the moneyless mugs in gaol Men do twelve months for a mad wife's lies or Life for a strumpet's tale. Ifpeople knew what the warders know, and felt as the prisoners feelIf the people knew, they would storm their gaols as they stormed the old Bastille. Some of the rural poems have the same kind of bitterness 'Out Back', the ballad of a worn-out swagman's death, is an example - but others are full of the heroism of endurance or even the romance oflove and mateship.

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