(1867 – 1922)
Henry Lawson is one of Australia’s best known and most influential poets and writers. His works are famous for depicting life in the Australian bush. Among Lawson’s best known works are The Drover’s Wife (1892), While the Billy Boils (1896) and Joe Wilson and His Mates (1901).
Born on the goldfields of outback New South Wales in 1867, Lawson’s early life was marred by poverty, a disrupted home life and loneliness as a result of his introversion and deafness, caused by an ear infection when he was nine.
Soon after moving to Sydney in 1883 to be reunited with his mother, Louisa, Lawson began to write. His first published poem, ‘A Song of the Republic’, appeared in The Bulletin in October 1887. This poem promoted notions of brotherhood and equality, and introduced the concept of an ‘Australian identity’. Lawson became a regular contributor to The Bulletin and, in September 1892, he travelled to drought-stricken western New South Wales where he witnessed the hardship and oppression of outback existence. This experience influenced his work for the remainder of his life.
His depictions of rural New South Wales in poetry, short stories and so-called ‘sketch stories’ resonated with country audiences and appealed to the imagination of those in the cities. Many of his works continued the themes of social equality and brotherhood and provided an insight into the emergent Australian nation.
Henry Lawson died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1922 and was given a state funeral.