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Blog post from Wednesday, 17 June, 2015

On this day, 17 June 1867, Henry Lawson, the Australian author and poet, was born. He was the son of the poet, publisher and feminist Louisa Lawson

Henry Lawson was born on the Grenfell goldfields in New South Wales. He became one of Australia’s best-known fiction writers of the colonial period and is often called Australia’s greatest short story writer. Most of his works dwelt on the Australian bush, accurately depicting the difficult conditions of life on dry, dusty outback stations and in bush towns. Unlike his contemporary, A.B. “Banjo” Paterson, he did not romanticise the life in the bush.

Lawson gained a loyal following when the Bulletin started to publish his stories and poems in 1888. However, he never really recovered from his childhood hardships and rejection from his peers, and in his later years became an alcoholic. He died at home alone on 2 September 1922. Thousands of citizens who had come to relate to his writing paid their respects at his state funeral.

The State Library of New South Wales holds manuscripts, photographs, early editions and realia, relating to Henry Lawson, including this cast of his hand, his death mask and lock of hair.