I had an amazing experience on the 1st August. I was deep in the Norwegian countryside at an interesting old house, and I unveiled a plaque. It must surely be a unique occasion – a Kiwi / Aussie unveiling a plaque for the grandfather of a major Australian author in Norway? The plaque was on the house where Peder Larsen was born. He was grandfather to Henry Lawson (Peder’s son, Niels Larsen, changed the family name to Lawson when he arrived in Australia), and the Henry Lawson Society of Norway and various interested locals arranged for a plaque. I was delighted to be asked to unveil it, and my tour group were all part of the audience. It was a sunny morning, and all made for a very special occasion indeed. I also received a fabulous medallion of Henry Lawson, with printed on it the words: “I was born to write of the things that are.”
The Austre Moland History Team has described the event here, with pictures.
We went from the house at Austre Moland to Faervik, which had been home to Niels Hertzberg Larsen. Today it is a community centre and there’s a fine silhouette of Henry Lawson on the outside wall. Inside there’s a display of Henry Lawson on postage stamps, on the $10 Australian banknote, and a copy of his birth certificate. Here we listened to a fascinating talk on Henry Lawson and the Critics, given by Kari Mentyjaervi, a Norwegian woman who had written a thesis on Lawson, and heard a wonderful recitation of Lawson poems by Tore Tunold who, as a young man, had worked on the Snowy Mountains scheme and there learned Australian bush poetry by heart. He also did a fabulous rendition of Banjo Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River and there were not many dry eyes in the room. A truly magical visit!