Louise Hanson-Dyer 1884-1962

Louise Hanson-Dyer

Louise Berta Mosson Hanson Smith was born in Melbourne on 19 July 1884.

She attended the Albert Street Conservatorium, studying piano with Eduard Scharf.

She returned to Melbourne and married James ‘Jimmy’ Dyer, a successful businessman. She was 27; he was 54.

 

The lyrebird lady

‘I got word from A.G. Stephens that Mrs James Dyer, a Melbourne lady, had offered to fetch out a book of my verse by subscription,’ recalled the ‘bush poet’ John Shaw Neilson. ‘I wrote and told the lady that I did not think the thing was practicable. She replied that she meant to do it somehow. [Then] I got a note from A.G. saying that Mrs Dyer had given the publishers a cheque for £100, and that the book would be out in a few days. Thus Ballad and Lyrical Poems was born in a great hurry. I felt very much indebted to Mrs Dyer. [On a beautiful summer morning, New Years Day 1924] I went out to Toorak. I had on a grey coat and vest, the remains of a rather decent suit; but my trousers were unspeakable. They were slops of the worst kind. They were dark and at least a size too big for me. I turned them up at the bottom to accommodate my rather short legs. I would have got out of that trip if I could possibly have done, but there didn’t seem to be any option. When I beheld such great mansions and such spacious grounds I could scarcely get pluck enough in me to enter the gates. I need not have been so timorous about it, as Mrs Dyer and her worthy husband made me very welcome. Had I been the Prince of Wales I could not have been better treated. I have recollections of a very fine six-course dinner the like of which I had never seen before. After that I said goodbye to Mrs Dyer, the very gracious lady who was anxious that my verse should be known not only here but in the old world, to which she was going to take a trip. She was at home during the London season in 1924 and had the great opportunity of doing so. If anybody knows about me in Britain, it is almost entirely due to Mrs Dyer. In Melbourne she encouraged several elocutionists to recite my verse. She told me that she had put on a green dress herself at an entertainment and had said “Petticoat Green”. She did not say she recited it. She was too modest for that.’

Louise Berta Mosson Hanson Smith was born in Melbourne on 19 July 1884. Her father, Louis Lawrence Smith, the son of a London theatrical entrepreneur, was a well-known Melbourne doctor, parliamentarian and art collector.

Louise’s musical talent was recognised at the Presbyterian Ladies’ College, East Melbourne. She attended the Albert Street Conservatorium, studying piano with Eduard Scharf. In 1907 she went with her elder brother, Louis, to Britain, where she took further instruction in piano. In 1911, soon after she had returned to Melbourne, she married James ‘Jimmy’ Dyer, a successful businessman. She was 27; he was 54.

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Biographical references

Jim Davidson: ‘Louise Berta Mosson Hanson Dyer’, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, volume 8, Melbourne University Press
Jim Davidson: Lyrebird Rising, Miegunyah/Melbourne University Press, 1994
Richard Excell and Jennifer Hill: Bowerbird to Lyrebird, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, 2006
John Shaw Neilson: The Autobiography of John Shaw Neilson, National Library of Australia, 1978