Author(s): Stone Louis
One side of the street glittered like a brilliant eruption with the light from a row of shops; the others, lined with houses, was almost deserted, for the people, drawn like moths by the glare, crowded and jostled under the lights. It was Saturday night, and Waterloo, by immemorial habit, had flung itself on the shops, bent on plunder. For an hour past a stream of people had flowed from the back streets into Botany Road, where the shops stood in shining rows, awaiting the conflict...One of the first great novels about Sydney, Jonah is the story of two larrikins: the unforgettable Joe Jones - known as Jonah - and Chook. Jonah, born a hunchback, is feared and revered in equal measure as the ruthless leader of the Push, a violent gang that terrorises the slums of Waterloo. Chook, a fellow member of the Push, is Jonah's loyal best friend. But after a chance encounter with his son, the result of a casual affair, Jonah decides to abandon the larrikin life and settle down. He marries Ada, the mother of his child, and takes advantage of an opportunity to open his own business. Chook, too, leaves the Push and finds love in the arms of factory worker, Pinkey. But can either man escape his awful past? Contrasting the sordid streets of the inner suburbs with the glittering lights of the harbour city, Jonah is a brilliant evocation of Sydney life at the turn of the century. This edition comes with a new introduction by Frank Moorhouse.
Louis Stone was born in Leicester, England, in 1871. He and his family migrated to Brisbane in 1884, and soon moved to Redfern, then Waterloo, neighbouring inner suburbs of Sydney. With the aid of a scholarship Stone attended Fort Street Training School and studied arts at the University of Sydney. He qualified as a teacher in 1895. Intermittent work in Sydney primary schools led to country postings from 1900. Stone returned to the city in 1904, where he married and began writing. Health problems, the result of anxiety, plagued his teaching career. Jonah was published in London in 1911. The novel painstakingly describes the conditions and distinctive characters-larrikins-of the working-class inner city. Norman Lindsay, A. G. Stephens and Nettie Palmer admired its realistic depiction of Sydney life. Stone subsequently wrote, without success, the novel Betty Wayside (1915). He began writing for the stage and went to London in 1920 to try his luck. On his return to Australia his plays The Lap of the Gods (1923) and The Watch that Wouldn't Go (1926) were published. In 1933 Jonah was published in the United States and in Australia, where it stayed in print for many years. It was eventually adapted for television by the ABC and performed as a stage play. Louis Stone died in 1935, having retired from teaching four years earlier.