The Boy in the Bush
D.H. Lawrence & M.L. Skinner
"The Boy in the Bush, is a forgotten novel of Australia, written by D.H. Lawrence in collaboration with Mollie Skinner, a native of Western Australia. It was first published in 1924, and is here republished in a newly designed Australian edition.
"A young Englishman, Jack Grant, has been sent by his parents to make a new life in the raw, pioneering colony of Western Australia in the 1880s. He is met at the dock by Mr George, a somewhat Dickens-like character, who introduces him to his mother's relatives.
"Jack has many adventures and meets many memorable, vibrantly alive characters, some of whom are amusingly eccentric. He tames horses, fights kangaroos, and competes for the love of two cousins, the twany-eyed Monica whom he marries and the dark-eyed Mary who entrances him. He reaches a vigorously independent young manhood, with an intensely vivid vision of life for the future.
"In the Preface, Professor Harry T. Moore discusses this absorbing novel and attempts to assess the separate contribution of each author. Describing this as 'undeservedly the most neglected asmong Lawrence's novels', he continues, 'The passages which are so uniquely Lawrences's often show him at his finest.' He concludes that the writing is distinctly Lawrencean, 'and the book should rank as a Lawrence novel, though Mollie Skinner's extremely important contribution should be noted.'"
About the Authors:
D.H. Lawrence needs little or no introduction. He arrived in Fremantle, WA, on May 4 1922, with his wife Frieda on their way to Sydney. He remained in New South Wales until August 11 of that year and worked on this book in collaboration with Mollie Skinner, and on his major "Australian" novel Kangaroo.
Mary Louisa (Mollie) Skinner was born in Perth, WA, in 1876 and was educated in England. She worked as a nurse during the First World War and her first book detailed her wartime experiences in Letters of a V.A.D. in 1918. Her acquaintance with D.H. Lawrence started in 1922 and resulted in the book detailed here. She published another 3 books during her lifetime. Her autobiography, The Fifth Sparrow, was published in 1972. Lawrence also worked on another of her novels, "Eve in the Land of Nod", which was subsequently unpublished. Mollie Skinner died in 1955.
He stepped ashore, looking like a lamb. Far be it from me to say he was the lamb he looked. Else why should he have been sent out from England? But a good-looking boy he was, with dark blue eyes and the complexion of a girl, and a bearing just a little too lamb-like to be convincing.
He stepped ashore in the newest of new colonies, glancing quickly around, but preserving his lamb-like quietness. Down came his elegant kit, and was dumped on the wharf: a kit that included a brand-new pigskin saddle and bridle, nailed up in a box straight from a smart shop in London. He kept his eye on that also, the tail of his well-bred eye.
Behind him was the wool ship that had brought him from England. This nondescript port was Fremantle, in West Australia; might have been anywhere or nowhere. In his pocket he had a letter of introduction to a well-known colonial lawyer, in which, he was aware, was folded also a draft on a West Australian bank. In his purse he had a five pound note. In his head were a few irritating memories. In his heart he felt a certain excited flutter at being in a real new land, where a man could be really free. Though what he meant by "free" he never stopped to define. He left everything suitably vague.
From the Macmillan hardback edition, 1980.
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Last modified: January 29, 2001.