The Journal of the DH Lawrence Society of Australia

ISSN No: 1039-9658

Vol 20. No 1. MAY-JUNE, 2013,

The Rose Garden Pavilion


ON Saturday May 25, 2013, a new literary society was born in the Rose Garden Pavilion in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

The newly-formed Robert Louis Stevenson Society of Australia & Oceania will join the Literary Societies of Sydney/ (LitSocSyd) which include the DH Lawrence Society of Australia, The NSW Dickens Society Sydney, The Dylan Thomas Society, Jane Austen Society Sydney, Australian Bronte Association, The Kipling Society of Australia, and The Sydney Passengers (Sherlock Holmes Society) *

The birth of the RLS Society took place on the 21st anniversary celebrations of the DH Lawrence Society of Australia, which was itself formed in the Rose Garden Pavilion in 1992. The DHL Society was also celebrating, with a picnic buffet lunch in the Pavilion, the 91st anniversary of Lawrence's arrival in Australia.

It is no coincidence that the two societies should be linked. Lawrence was a great admirer of Stevenson, and they shared a number of things.

Both visited Australia. Both were enamored of the South Seas. Both wrote novels (Kangaroo and The Wrecker) with scenes in the Domain/Botanic Gardens. Kangaroo is set mainly in the coast south of Sydney, while one of thge characters in The Wrecker goes down to work on a railway on the coast sotuh of Sydney.

Lawrence named his main protagonist Richard Lovatt Somers, whose initials, RLS, mirror those of Stevenson's.

Moreover, Lawrence met Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, and Stevenson's widow, Fanny, in Capri in 1921. (Lloyd co-wroteThe Wrecker.) But the connections between Lawrence and Stevenson don't stop here.

Stevenson visited Sydney several times,

Jan Andrews, Rob Darroch and Lindsay Foyle relax during lunch



John and young Jasper Robens chat
with Greg Baran

Michael Lester, an enthusiastic
founding member of the
RL Stevenson Society


and on each visit he stayed at the prestigious Union Club. His special chair is still in the Club's library (where the RLS convention members will foregather in July, at the invitation of the Club).

Several members of the DH Lawrence Society of Australia - including Robert Darroch, Sandra Darroch, Robert Whitelaw, and Paul Delprat - are current members of the Union Club, now called the Union, University & Schools Club.

In 1892 Paul Delprat's great-grandfather, the artist Julian Ashton, invited Stevenson to visit the artists' camp he and other celebrated artists (such as Arthur Streeton) had set up at Balmoral Beach, thus establishing a tradition of painting en plein air in Australia.

Stevenson then invited Ashton to lunch at the Club.

However, there is another link between the Rose Garden Pavilion and DH Lawrence.

The head of the secret army Lawrence describes in Kangaroo - Benjamin Cooley ("Kangaroo") - was based on a real person, Major General Sir Charles Rosenthal, an architect in peacetime. In Rosenthal's army division during the War was a fellow architect, Hugh Venables Vernon, who was also deeply involved in secret army activity after the War. (The Vernon Papers in the Mitchell Library lists the members of the Old Guard who lived on Sydney's North Shore.)

The architect who designed the Rose Garden Pavilion, Walter Liberty Vernon, was Hugh Venables father.

Sydney was a small world then (and still is, to some extent, today).


John Robens with his young son, Jasper

The cake, wrongly
inscribed RSL instead of RLS
(even today, the "Diggers"
have an influence)


A friendly ibis joined the party



DHL Society President, Rob Darroch, emphasising that we were celebrating two socieities today

Robert Whitelaw shows where Stevenson lived in Samoa

Greg Baran came to the picnic
from Glebe

Peter Jones and his friend
Dean Laurance, all the way from Minnesota


During the buffet picnic, the DH Lawrence Society held a brief AGM.

Robert Darroch, who had been acting President of the Society after the sad death of President John Lacey, was elected the new President.

Sandra Darroch was re-elected as Secretary and web mistress, and Clif Barker was re-elected, in absentia, as Treasurer.


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