Lawson, Henry

henry lawsonHenry Lawson (1867-1922) is known primarily as a short story writer and balladist, however he was also a prolific journalist. Throughout his writing career, and parallel to his fiction and poetry, Lawson wrote articles that ranged from social commentary to vivid literary journalism.

Prior to 1901, Lawson wrote articles for The Bulletin, The Australian Star, The Worker, The Boomerang, Louisa Lawson’s Republican, and The New Zealand Mail.  J.F Archibald, founder of The Bulletin, encouraged Lawson in both fiction and non-fiction by funding a rail ticket to drought stricken Bourke in 1892, which remained a central influence on Lawson’s writings for years to come, including the literary journalism works, “In a Wet Season” (1893) and “In a Dry Season”(1892)  published in The Bulletin. Some of this literary journalism is included in Lawson’s best known book, While The Billy Boils (1896).

His literary journalism was most vivid when he was travelling, in which he replaced opinion with narrative, dialogue and characterisation; from exhaustion in the Australian bush, idling on a ship outside the Sydney Heads, living in West Australia and New Zealand, and stopping in exotic ports en route to London, in which he wrote “A Stroll To The Strand” (1903).

Lawson died in 1922, aged 55, and he was given a State Funeral which was at odds with his poverty stricken life. A memorial statue, sculpted by George Lambert, is in the Domain, Sydney.

Representative Articles:
  • “Albany before the Boom”, Australian Star 30 September 1899
  • In A Wet Season” The Bulletin, 2 December, 1893
  • In A Dry Season” While The Billy Boils, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, Australia 1896
  • “Coming Across, A Study in Steerage” The New Zealand Mail serialised 18 and 29 December, 1893
  • Some Reflections on a Voyage across Cook’s Straits” (N.Z.) [Across the Straits] Worker, 12 January 1895 
  • “A Stroll To The Strand”, The Bulletin, 19 November 1903