A link with Australian literature WHEN Dr. Rohner departed Chiltern in 1876 he sold his practice to Dr. Walter Lindsay Richardson. The Richardsons lived in “Lake View”, now owned by the National Trust, and although the family moved on after 18 months, the town made a lasting impression on their elder daughter, Ethel Florence. Writing under her pen name of Henry Handel Richardson, Ethel wrote a number of classic novels including “The Getting of Wisdom”, based on her experience as a boarder at PLC, and “Maurice Guest”, which was set in Leipzig where she studied at the Conservatorium. Richardson’s best-known work, however,was “The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney” (pictured), a trilogy about the slow decline, owing to character flaws and an unnamed brain disease of a successful Australian physician and businessman, and the emotional/financial effect on his family. The central characters were based loosely on her own parents. It is understood that the town of Barambogie referred to by Richardson is in fact Chiltern and Dr. Rummel is drawn from her father’s predecessor, Dr. Rohner. FOOTNOTE: As well as the information provided by Jeanette Robinson, the assistance given by Shirley Davies of the Hastings Western Port Historical Society is greatly appreciated. Special thanks to the Chiltern Athenaeum for the photographs.
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Published on Oct 17, 2014