Review of the Book The Boy in the Bush



Here is the review of the book The Boy in the Bush written by D. H. Lawrence and Mary Louisa Skinner.

 

Review of the book The Boy in the Bush by D. H. Lawrence and Mary Louisa Skinner

 

An Australian lady, Mollie Skinner, wrote a novel about the daily life of an English Youngster settling down in the West Australian bush. The story was unpublished, when Lawrence it saw. He liked the work and adapted it for publication. I could imagine that he was highly attracted by a life on his own instead of all the years constructing love affairs which resulted in the books he lived on. A simple life in natural surroundings might have been his dream.

At D.H. Lawrence’s suggestion, a nurse and author, Mollie Skinner wrote about a young Englishman’s reactions to late nineteenth-century Western Australia; then Lawrence completely rewrote it. This is the first critical edition of that novel, The Boy in the Bush. The reading text eliminates publishers’ censorship and the miscopyings of typists and typesetters. The compositional development and the variants of the typescripts and first editions are given in the textual apparatus. Explanatory notes distinguish local and historical material. Appendices include maps, an outline history of the colony and two of Lawrence’s essays about the collaboration, one of which appears here for the first time in English.

 

About the Author: Mollie Skinner

 

Mary Louisa (Mollie) Skinner (1876–1955) was a Western Australian author, best known for the story The Boy in the Bush co-authored with D. H. Lawrence.

Mollie Skinner was born on 19 September 1876 to a Western Australian family that had established itself during the early years of settlement, distinguishing her position an “ancient colonist” in the local society from the “t’othersiders” who arrived in Western Australia from the eastern states. The family’s religion was the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Her mother was Jessie Rose Ellen, the daughter of George Walpole Leake, who had married James Tierney Skinner, a captain in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment. While born in Perth, her family took the infant Mollie to England and Ireland. She began her education in Edinburgh, but a painful condition of the eyes inflicted shortly afterward was treated by placing her in a darkened room for five years. The successful restoration of her health allowed her to begin composing poetry and stories and other tasks, and Skinner later enrolled at two children’s hospitals in London to begin a career in nursing.

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Skinner returned to Perth with the rest of her family in 1900. She operated a convalescent home and guest house with a friend Nellie Beakbane, located in the foothills suburb of Darlington. On the recommendation of a friend, Pussy Jenkins, D H Lawrence and his wife stayed at this house while visiting Western Australia; their meeting would be influential to their respective literary careers.

Mollie Skinner died on 25 May 1955 at the town of York.

Before leaving England in 1900 she was published in the Daily Mail newspaper.

She wrote a memoir describing her experiences during the First World War, as a volunteer aid worker in Burma. Mollie was the co-owner of a guesthouse in Darlington, where D. H. Lawrence stayed, shortly after arriving in the country in 1922. Skinner’s Letters of a V. A. D. was given to Lawrence by Margaret Cohen, another friend residing at the house, he became interested in her other works. After Lawrence read the work he remarked, “You have been given the Divine Spark and would bury it in a napkin”. Her draft novel The House of Ellis was rewritten by Lawrence and published as The Boy in the Bush in August 1924. Her brother Jack was the subject of Lawrence’s novel Kangaroo.

Two years after the issue of her work with Lawrence, she met with Edward Garnett to discuss publication of Black Swans. His critique of the work as “so damn, damn bad …” was interpreted by Skinner’s tears and cries, before he finished by declaring it was also so “damn, damn good” that he intended to publish the work. Skinner’s autobiography, The Fifth Sparrow, was edited by Mary Durack and Marjorie Rees while Skinner’s health was failing and published posthumously in 1972.

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