Richardson, Henry Handel, 1870-1946

Alternative names
Birth 1870-01-03
Death 1946-03-20
German, English

Biographical notes:

Henrietta Richardson Robinson, writing as Henry Handel Richardson, was a major Australian novelist rather forgotten in the rest of the world. Although she lived most of her adult life in Germany and England, her fiction remained Australian, evoking a sense of national pride in her fans and critics and influencing numerous diverse Australian authors.

From the description of Henry Handel Richardson letters and papers, 1929-1946. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 50564364

'Henry Handel Richardson', pseudonym for Ethel Florence Lindesay Robertson, was born in Melbourne in 1870, the daughter of English migrants. In her major work, the trilogy 'The Fortunes of Richard Mahony', she draws heavily on autobiographical family experience and her childhood environment. From 1883 to 1887 she attended the Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, and used aspects of this experience in her novel 'The Getting of Wisdom' (1910). In 1888 her mother took her to Europe where she trained as a concert pianist, discovered European literature and thought, and met her future husband, J.G. Robertson, a doctoral student of German literature. They were married in 1895 and after some years in Strasbourg, moved to England where Robertson was appointed to the Chair of German Literature at the University of London. Richardson's most significant supporter was her husband who made it possible for her to devote her life almost entirely to writing. After the 'Mahony' trilogy followed 'The Young Cosima' and a collection of stories. She also kept up an extensive correspondence with friends and other literati, but did not disclose her gender to some of her correspondents. After her husband's death in 1933, she moved to Sussex with her secretary and companion Olga Roncoroni. She died in 1946, and her unfinished autobiography 'Myself When Young' was published posthumously.

From the description of Letters to Irene Foster, 1931-1933 [manuscript]. 1931-33. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 506388772

Novelist. See 'The Oxford companion to Australian literature', pp. 584-587.

From the description of Correspondence [manuscript]. 1928-1945. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225709841

Novelist, born Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson, daughter of Dr. W.L. Richardson, who emigrated to Victoria in the 1850s. Studied music in Leipzig before devoting herself to writing. Married J.G. Robertson in 1895. Main works: Maurice Guest (1908), The Getting of Wisdom (1910), The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1930). Visited Australia once (1912) after leaving in 1887.

From the description of Papers and correspondence of Henry Handel Richardson [manuscript]. 1852-1983. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225632914

Writer. Author of The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, Maurice Guest, The Young Cosima, etc. Real name Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson.

From the description of Papers [manuscript]. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225766657


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  • Women novelists, Australian--20th century--Correspondence
  • Authors, Australian--Correspondence
  • Australian literature--20th century--History and criticism
  • Novelists, Australian--Correspondence
  • Women novelists, Australian--20th century--History--Sources
  • Authors, Australian--20th century--Correspondence
  • Songs with piano
  • Australian literature--20th century--Women authors


  • Authors
  • Novelists


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