Welcome to some background information on one of Australia's most famous poets and authors - Henry Lawson. The same man appears on our Aussie ten-dollar note. He is an Australian icon.
Henry Lawson was born in a
tent on the goldfields at Grenfell (NSW) on 17 June 1867. His father,
Nils Hertzberg Larsen was a Norwegian sailor who had a property at Pipeclay,
near Mudgee while his mother, Louisa had an interest in republicianism and
women's civil rights.
Henry spent his early years
at the property at Pipeclay. His father was often away, trying to earn
enough money for the family as a carpenter. Henry had only three years of
schooling at Pipeclay State School and the Catholic School at Mudgee.
When he left school at 13 years of age, he began an apprencticeship as a coach
Henry's parents separated
when he was 15 and he eventually went to live with his mother, brother and
sister in Sydney. His mother published a magazine Dawn as well as Henry's
first book titled Short
Stories in Prose & Verse (1894) when Henry was 27 years old.
Henry's first published prose
was in The Republican in
1887. His first published poem was A
Song Of The Republic which appeared in The Bulletin the same year.
Henry did various work to
make a living including painting houses in Albany (WA) and Bourke (NSW) where
he also worked on magazines The
Boomerang (Brisbane), The
Worker (Sydney) while submitting items to The Bulletin, Truth and the
Sydney Worker. He
also taught in a Maori school in New Zealand and spent some time in London.
Henry married Bertha Bredt, a nurse from
Bairnsdale (Vic). Bertha was the stepdaughter of the owner of a Sydney
bookshop frequented by Henry and other writers and poets of the time.
They had a son and a daughter before separating in 1902.
Henry moved around
Australia. He had a serious problem with alcohol abuse and was often very
ill or in trouble with the law. He had some friends who supported him and
tried to help him abstain from alcohol.
He died at Abbotsford (NSW)
in 1922. The following year, the Henry Lawson Memorial & Literary
Society was established by Steve Ford at Footscray (Vic).
An important Henry Lawson
collection, including one of his shirts and walking stick was presented to the
State Library of Victoria in 2003 by the Henry Lawson Memorial & Literary
Society Inc. The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong (NSW) is devoted to
Henry's life story and work.
Now, here is one of hundreds of poems written by Lawson.
Andy's Gone With Cattle (1888)
Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.
He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.
Who now shall wear the cheerful face
In times when things are slackest?
And who shall whistle round the place
When Fortune frowns her blackest?
Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now
When he comes round us snarling?
His tongue is growing hotter now
Since Andy cross'd the Darling.
The gates are out of order now,
In storms the 'riders' rattle;
For far across the border now
Our Andy's gone with cattle.
Poor Aunty's looking thin and white;
And Uncle's cross with worry;
And poor old Blucher howls all night
Since Andy left Macquarie.
Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,
And all the tanks run over;
And may the grass grow green and tall
In pathways of the drover;
And may good angels send the rain
On desert stretches sandy;
And when the summer comes again
God grant 'twill bring us Andy.
Clancy's comment: This guy is one of my all time favourite authors. He, and many others, led a hard life but they produced some of the best short stories and poems ever written. I have the complete collection of Henry Lawson's work, and have read every piece he ever wrote. Love ya work, Henry.