Horace Brodzky

“Horace Brodzky (1987)” introduced one of Australia’s earliest significant modernist painters back to Australia. Brodzky is of the same vintage as Kisling and Modigliani, painted in a style not remarkably different from them, and exhibited in a mixed exhibition with both of them in London in 1914. He numbered amongst his closest friends and associates such artistic luminaries as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, David Bomberg, Mark Gertler, C.R.W. Nevinson, Isaac Rosenberg, Jules Pascin and Walt Kuhn, just to mention the tip of the iceberg. This book was a great success. It was featured on TV on the 7.30 Report, The Dinny O’Hearn Book Program, and Clive Robertson’s News Program; received good reviews in most major newspapers and magazines in all states; and was the catalyst for a touring Commonwealth Government funded exhibition as part of Australia’s Bicentenary Celebrations of 1988.

A film interview for the ABC TV’s ‘7.30 Report’ for December 1987 pertaining to the book ‘Horace Brodzky’ and the ensuing exhibition of Brodzky’s work based on that book.

In Search of Derwent Lees

“In Search of Derwent Lees (1996)” introduced another highly significant early Australian modernist artist, a contemporary of Brodzky’s, back to Australia. Lees suffered from Schizophrenia. This book received good reviews in several newspapers throughout Australia; was featured on TV in Postcards and Bert Newton’s Good Morning Australia; and was the catalyst for a touring exhibition curated by David Thomas, a former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, which travelled from Adelaide to Melbourne to Sydney to Brisbane in 1997. This exhibition received patronage from such notables as Sir Edward Woodward, Archbishop Ian George, Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, Dame Leonie Kramer and Archbishop Peter Hollingsworth. As a consequence the book raised in excess of $110,000 for Sane Australia (formerly Schizophrenia Australia), and was used worldwide by the international American drug company, Eli Lilly, to promote “Zyprexa,” their new, and subsequently highly successful drug for the treatment of Schizophrenia, following its release in 1998.

A film interview on Channel 9’s Postcards for March 1997 pertaining to the book ‘In Search of Derwent Lees’ and the ensuing Adelaide exhibition of Lees’ work based on that book.
A film interview on Channel 10’s Good Morning Australia for May 1997 pertaining to the book ‘In Search of Derwent Lees’ and the ensuing Melbourne exhibition of Lees’ work based on that book.

The Five Walking Sticks

“The Five Walking Sticks (2000),” the story of Australia’s first great investigative journalist, Maurice Brodzky, received great press reviews in several major newspapers throughout Australia. Interestingly, the Age newspaper, despite the book having a chapter outlining its early history, refused to review it for two years. When they finally did so in 2002 it was their pick of the week.

5 Walking Sticks interview by Gregory Vaisman:

Here are some reviews:

“Completing the reading of your book is like being at the end of a journey and having the book allows one to remember every step of the way. I am going to re-read it. It is a brilliant work, a new way of writing a biography. Similar to a doppelganger; Brodzky as an apparition or shadow or double of yourself; a phantom extension of your will, you the author submerged in his artistic identity. Quite intriguing! Sometimes I did not know who was writing the book, you or he. What a treasure to have in my library.” 

Laurel Hessing (New York playwright, author of “The Golden Bear.”) 

“Lew’s ease as a storyteller has animated Brodzky’s life into the foreground of Melbourne’s history. A memorable read.” 

Christopher Bantick (The Canberra Times) 

“The rich, venal, high high-minded world of Melbourne’s zenith brought back to life.” 

Professor Peter Pierce (The Bulletin) 

“Meticulously researched and seamlessly integrated. A ripper read.” 

Diane Carlyle (The Australian) 

I greatly enjoyed reading “The Five Walking Sticks.” Yours was a bold experiment to use the first person. It is largely successful and I can see how it helped you get inside Brodzky’s character and motivations, capturing his romantic and idealistic inclinations. In my view you have got closer to the historical truth than most thesis-writers could.

Michael Cannon. (Australian historian and writer, author of “The Land Boomers.”)

In 2012, Michael Smith, a former editor of ‘The Age’, nominated and inducted Maurice Brodzky into the Victorian Press Club’s Inaugural Hall of Fame. He did not know about ‘The Five Walking Sticks’, but based his nomination on Michael Cannon’s book ‘The Land Boomers’. After reading ‘The Five Walking Sticks’
Michael Smith now says he believes Brodzky was the most important journalist working in Australia during the nineteenth century. Brodzky singlehandedly fought for such issues as the right for women to vote, for equal rights for Australian aboriginals, for Asian immigration and for help for the poor and downtrodden. When you read some of his articles you feel they were written in the 1990s not the 1890s. Michael Smith now thinks that ‘The Five Walking Sticks’ should be an iconic Melbourne book for tourists to buy when they visit the city. He was trying to interest a publisher in producing a highly illustrated version of the book to fill this need, but to no avail as yet.

The Stories Our Parents Found Too Painful To Tell

“The Stories Our Parents Found Too Painful To Tell (2008)” by Rafael Rajzner and Henry R. Lew is an English re-write of Rafael Rajzner’s Holocaust memoir with some additions. Rajzner’s memoir, one of the earliest memoirs written after the war, was originally published in a small Yiddish edition in Melbourne in 1948 and then virtually disappeared into oblivion after Rajzner’s death in 1953. When the book re-appeared in English in 2008 it created an immediate sensation. Prior to its printing it was already the subject of a five page article in the ‘Weekend Australian Magazine’; it was being serialised for the Radio National program ‘First Person’ by Christopher Williams, who found the book as powerful as the work of Primo Levi; and it was planned to make it the subject of the now much shown and praised telemovie ‘The Sleeping Book’ by producer and director Tracey Spring, which was first aired on the ABC TV program “Compass” in October 2008 and again on “The Best of Compass” a year later. After the book was printed it was featured on Radio National’s Breakfast program and ABC TV’s 7.30 Report for Holocaust Memorial Day 2009. It now carries an endorsement by Sir Martin Gilbert, the UK’s best known World War II historian, stating “it deserves to receive the widest possible circulation and publicity” and is found in the libraries of every major Holocaust museum in the world. In 2012 a Polish translation published by the Emmanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw was launched in Bialystok as part of the seventieth anniversary commemoration ceremonies for the destruction of the ghetto.

ABC telemovie ‘The Sleeping Book’ as shown on the Compass program in October 2008.
‘Holocaust Book’ as shown on ABC TV’s 7.30 Report in January 2009.

Lion Hearts

“Lion Hearts (2012)” is a quasi-sequel to ‘The Stories Our Parents Found Too Painful To Tell’. It has been lauded by such interesting personalities as Sir Michael Holroyd, Professor Suzanne Rutland, Professor Hugh Taylor, former Justice Ronald Merkel QC, George Golvan QC, well-known businessman and Holocaust survivor Nathan Werdiger and such prominent book reviewers as Christopher Bantick and Steven Carroll. Many readers have contacted the author to say they couldn’t put it down. Krzysztof Godlewski who translated ‘The Stories Our Parents Found Too Painful To Tell’ from English into Polish formerly expressed a desire to perhaps do the same for ‘Lion Hearts’ but nothing has happened as yet. For interest I include some comments by Sir Michael Holroyd, Professor Suzanne Rutland, Dr. Katrina Watson, Christopher Bantick and Nathan Werdiger.

ISBN: 9781921665653 (pbk.) 344 pages.

Lion Hearts interview by Gregory Vaisman.

To listen to an interview by James Carleton on Radio National’s ‘Breakfast Program’ for February 1, 2013 titled “Polish War Hero Jan Karski” click here.

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“Many men and women in the later stages of their lives contemplate writing autobiographies or family memoirs for their children. Not many actually do so and very few take on such thorough research or discover such dramatic stories as Henry R. Lew has done. His Lion Hearts is structured like a series of connected chapter-carriages, full of refugees and asylum seekers, and the sounds of exhilaration and sadness, which travels through a history of the twentieth century. Though centred on the author’s family, the story embraces us all and deserves a wide readership.” 

Sir Michael Holroyd 
(Chairman of the Society of Authors, 1973–83 
President of the English branch of PEN, 1985-88 
President of the Royal Society of Literature from 2003-08). 

“Lion Hearts chronicles the survival story of Henry Lew’s father Lonek, who migrated to Melbourne after the war, having escaped from Bialystok to the east with his wife Genia. The book consists of a series of vignettes relating to the key personalities in Lonek’s life – and thus also in Henry’s life – which gradually build up a powerful picture of life in pre-war Poland, of events during the Holocaust and of the historical background which has moulded post-war Melbourne Jewry. The book is an important work, substantially researched, and written with great empathy. It makes for compelling reading, highlighting European antisemitism, the Jewish refugee and survival story, and the resilience of human nature in rebuilding lives after devastating experiences.” 

Professor Suzanne Rutland OAM 
(Professor of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.)

“When ophthalmologist Dr. Henry (Harry) Lew’s father Lonek died he found it too painful to write an obituary. “Lion Hearts” is his attempt to rectify that omission but achieves much more: an obituary for a generation of Polish Jews, Holocaust survivors who became the basis of a European community in Melbourne in the late 1940s.” 

Dr. Katrina Watson. 

“An exceptional book about extraordinary people living in extraordinary times; my only regret on completing it is that I have not met any of them personally.” 

Christopher Bantick. 

“I want to tell you to keep writing till the day you die and to continue writing about the Holocaust, because nobody quite writes about it the way you do. My wife brought me “Lion Hearts” yesterday. I was already reading three books simultaneously, a chapter at a time; and I thought I could do it for four, so I read the first chapter of “Lion Hearts.” I immediately put the other three books aside and read yours in 24 hours. I want to tell you that as a teenage survivor of Auschwitz you taught me things about the Holocaust I never knew; for someone who has been in business in Melbourne since 1949, you taught me things about the Melbourne Jewish community I never knew before; and when I read the chapter that describes your visit to Treblinka the tears ran down my cheeks like waterfalls and drenched my shirt.” 

Nathan Werdiger. 
(Businessman, Philanthropist and Holocaust survivor)

Smitten by Catherine

“Smitten by Catherine (2016)” is the first book ever written about the amazingly fascinating life of Catherine Rachel Mendes da Costa (1678-1756), the first ever female Jewish painter in recorded history, the first ever English born Jewish artist, male or female, in recorded history, and only the third ever English born female artist in recorded history after Mary Beale (born 1633) and Susannah-Penelope Rosse (born circa 1650). This is a true story which no fiction writer could ever even begin to hope to imagine. Who would believe that the first female Jewish painter in recorded history was born in the Royal Palace in London and that the Queen of England, Catherine de Braganza, the wife of King Charles II, was her God-mother? Other personalities who appear in the pages of this story include such fascinating names as Michaelangelo, Sofanisba Anguissola, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Donna Gracia Nasi Mendes, Suleiman the Magnificent, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Robert Walpole, the first British Prime Minister, Sir John Churchill, the first Duke of Malborough, and Voltaire to mention just a few.

ISBN: 9781925272284 (hardback) 72 pages, 11 colour, 4 black and white illustrations.

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Here are some reviews:

To read a book review by Ron Jontof-Hutter and a response to it by Sharyn Saffer click on:

To read a book review on “Art and Architecture mainly” click on:

To listen to an interview by Dr Rachel Kohn on Radio National’s ‘The Spirit of Things’ program, for November 6, 2016, titled “The Venetian Ghetto”, click on:

The actual interview with Henry R Lew starts at approximately 40 minutes and 50 seconds into the program.

Imaging the World

“From out of the retina into the brain” is a brief cliche which sets the mood for “Imaging the World 2018”, a book which uses the artwork of such famous and talented artists as Frans Hals, John Constable, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, John Singer Sargent, Alfred Munnings, Derwent Lees, Roderic O’Conor and Chuck Close, to mention a few, in order to arrive at its specific aim – which is to revolutionise the manner in which ordinary people – and this includes eye care professionals – will forever more think about and perceive their own vision.

It has evolved out of a one and a half hour course, which the author delivered to an enthusiastic audience at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ Annual Scientific Conference, in Melbourne, in November 2016, and is written in simple prose, to make it readily accessible to all readers.

The ideas which are expressed throughout this book arose from two interwoven passions which have dominated the author’s mind for more than forty years – a continuous search to acquire more knowledge with respect to ‘ophthalmic medical practice, and human vision’ – and ‘an ophthalmic derived methodology’, which the author independently personally developed, while examining, and sometimes acquiring, discarded unwanted paintings.

The book as a result explains how to amalgamate a knowledge of ‘art history and artistic techniques’ with ‘an appreciation of the neurophysiological engineering of human vision’; and how this application, when specifically applied to the examination of paintings, may aid in the identification of possible ‘sleepers’, which are ‘unrecognised paintings by significant artists’, which have escaped the attentive eyes of such renowned, professional experts as art academics, curators, dealers and auction house specialists.

As such the book inadvertently evolves into a series of fascinating detective stories, which people, who have enjoyed the BBC’s television series ‘Fake or Fortune’, should find similarly interesting and immersing!  Along this same path the book stumbles onto a fascinating scientific explanation as to why the French Impressionism movement occurred when and where it did. 

“Rarely have Science and Art sat at the same table, let alone discussed the same issues. In his penetrating study, ‘Imaging the World’, Dr Henry Lew uses his professional skills and artistic acumen to apply the science of seeing to the art of perceiving. The result is a fascinating insight into the construction of pictorial imagery. It’s a must for all impartial minds.”

Associate Professor Ken Wach, (Former Principal Research Fellow and Head of the School of Creative Arts, The University of Melbourne.)

“This exciting new book introduces a new form of art connoisseurship. For ophthalmologists and those interested in the science and art of vision and in the vision and science of art this is a fascinating and informative read.”

Professor Hugh Taylor, (Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health University of Melbourne – formerly Head of Department of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne and Founding Director for the Centre for Eye Research Australia – and prior to that Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with joint appointments in the Departments of Epidemiology and International Health.)

“A fascinating book which explores the way in which the human visual system interprets art , and how some artists have intuitively painted accordingly. The book contains numerous beautifully reproduced plates to demonstrate Dr Lew’s succinctly articulated argument. While he goes into some detail about the neurophysiological engineering of human vision, describing the role of central vision including cones and rods, peripheral viewing, and stereoscopic viewing, this book is not an academic tome. By interspersing descriptors of our visual anatomy with examples of artworks that support his argument and anecdotes of his own experiences collecting and selling art, he entertains, educates, and inspires us to look at art with fresh eyes… and perhaps even start collecting. It’s an ideal Christmas present.”

Melanie Kell (Editor of ‘mivision’ – the Ophthalmic Journal.)

“Lew literally has an eye for the art world. The retired Melbourne ophthalmic surgeon was an art prodigy as a boy and in this extraordinary book science and art converge as he explores how human vision influences art appreciation.”

Juliet Rieden (Editor-at-large, The Australian Women’s Weekly.)  

ISBN: 9781925272819 (hardback) 292 pages, 150 colour illustrations

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Patterson of Israel

“Patterson of Israel” (2020) tells the compelling story of John Henry Patterson (1867-1947), a contemporary of Lawrence of Arabia in the same middle-eastern military sphere of engagement. Whereas Lawrence had his largely falsified story blown up out of all proportions by the commanding officers running Britain’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Patterson had his story blown down and deliberately swept under the carpet. This was due to a type of British anti-Semitism similar to that displayed by the Corbyn-led Labour Party at the last two British elections.

Patterson was an Irish Protestant who had never met a Jew prior to 1915, when he was given positions commanding Jewish Legions both at Gallipoli and then during the ensuing Palestine Campaign. These were positions which no other British officer wanted to take on , but Patterson embraced them fervently and rapidly became an ardent Zionist and a vehement opponent of the anti-Semitism which he witnessed constantly being meted out to his men. The only bright light which he really experienced in Palestine apart from his men was the wonderful way in which he and his men were appreciated and treated by the first ANZACS, with whom they became heroic comrades-in-arms and most enduring and admiring friends.

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