Henry Lawson Biography

Poet, Author (1867–1922)
Henry Lawson was a revered Australian writer of short stories and poetry.


Henry Lawson was born on June 17, 1867, in Grenfell, Australia. He wrote short stories and ballad-like poems, illuminating the lives of rural, working Australians. Lawson is often called "Australia's greatest writer." During the colonial period, he traveled extensively, and was frequently published in the Bulletin. He died impoverished in 1922.

Early Life and Works

Born on June 17, 1867, in Grenfell, Australia, Henry Lawson is considered one of the leading writers of Australia's colonial period. Lawson had a difficult childhood. His father, Niels (also known as Peter), a Norwegian immigrant, spent much of Henry's early years searching for gold, leaving his mother, Louisa, on her own much of the time. Beginning at a young age, Lawson had to shoulder a lot of responsibility in caring for his family.

After his mother helped establish a school in their area, when Lawson was around the age of 8 or 9, he began his education. He experienced a personal setback, however, after an illness left him partly deaf. Lawson only had a few years of schooling, leaving him sensitive about his educational background for the rest of his life.

Lawson joined his mother in Sydney after she separated from his father. There, he published his first poem in 1887. Inspired by the riots against the monarchy during Queen Victoria's jubilee, Lawson wrote "A Song of the Republic," which appeared in the Bulletin. Lawson soon wrote poems and stories for other publications as well, including "Andy's Gone with Cattle," and even became a journalist for a short time with the Brisbane Boomerang.

Final Years

In 1902, Lawson moved back to Sydney with his family. He was so despondent that he attempted suicide that December. The following year, his wife officially separated from him. Lawson spent his later life struggling with mental health issues and alcohol. He ended up in jail on occasion for public drunkenness and for failing to pay support for his children.

Lawson died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 2, 1922, in Abbotsford, Australia. After his death, Lawson was heralded as one of the country's leading literary figures. He was even given a state funeral, which was attended by a number of prominent officials.

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