Henry Handel Richardson's The Getting of Wisdom is the coming-of-age story of a spontaneous heroine who finds herself ensconced in the rigidity of a turn-of-the-century boarding school. The clever and highly imaginative Laura has difficulty fitting in with her wealthy classmates and begins to compromise her ideals in her search for popularity and acceptance.
About the Author
Henry Handel Richardson was the pen-name of Ethel Florence Lindesay
Richardson, who was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1870. Her father
was a medical graduate of Edinburgh University, and her mother was the
daughter of a Leicester solicitor; they married after migrating to
Australia during the Victorian goldrushes. After her father's death in
1879, her mother worked as a postmistress in country towns, but later
she was able to take Ethel and her sister Lilian to Europe, to study
music at Leipzig. Ethel, who became a skilled pianist, married John
George Robertson, a science graduate turned philologist. Robertson was
appointed Professor of German and Scandinavian Languages and
Literatures at London University in 1903, where he became one of the
foremost scholars of his day. By this time Ethel had begun to write,
having given up all thought of a musical career. Her first novel, Maurice
Guest, was published in 1908 and had a number of imitators. Her
second, The Getting of Wisdom, published in 1910 was described
by H. G. Wells as the best school story he knew. Her most important
work was The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, published in three
volumes, comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home and Ultima
Thule, from 1917 to 1929.
After the death of her husband in 1933, Richardson moved to a house
near Hastings with her devoted companion Olga Roncoroni. The End of
a Childhood and Other Stories was published in 1934 and the novel The
Young Cosima in 1939 when she was sixty-nine years old. During the
war she began an autobiography, Myself When Young, but, left it
unfinished at her death in 1946.
A short while before her death, she signed a contract with
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for the film rights of The Fortunes of Richard
Mabony, but production was suspended and not resumed.