Libby Hathorn presents poets of Australia: Henry Lawson

Students will explore well known Australian poet Henry Lawson. Students will listen to and respond to several of his poems and gain an understanding of his style of writing. The activities will culminate in the students writing their own poem inspired by Henry Lawson and an original artwork in the State Library collection.
Stimulus #1: 
State Library of NSW presents Libby Hathorn's Poets of Australia: Henry Lawson
Stimulus #2: 
Photo of Louisa Lawson and her son Charles William
Stimulus #3: 
Portraits of Henry Lawson
Stimulus #4: 
Jack Thompson radio interview
Stimulus #5: 
The Free Settlers Daughter poem
Stimulus #6: 
Stoneleigh, Beaufort near Ararat, Victoria, 1866
Stimulus #7: 
Mining Camp, Victoria or New South Wales, 1855-60
Stimulus #8: 
A Mountain Inn, 1862
Stimulus #9: 
Patterdale landscape, Tasmania, 1833-1834

Featured content

State Library of NSW presents Libby Hathorn's Poets of Australia: Henry Lawson

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Text type

  • Narrative: poetry
  • Narrative: A story of events or experiences, real or imagined. Narrative includes the story (what is narrated) and the discourse (how it is narrated).

A collection of Henry Lawson's poem can be found here.

Background notes for teachers

Learning intention

Students are learning to:

  • identify how different viewpoints of their world, including aspects of culture, are represented in texts.
  • to think in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive and critical.

Success criteria

Students will be successful when they can:

  • describe rhyming patterns and distinctly Australian words in Henry Lawson's poems.
  • analyse and summarise a poem by Henry Lawson.
  • create a poem in the style of Henry Lawson using artwork from the State Library Collection as inspiration.

Explain to students that Henry Lawson was born in 1867 in NSW, Australia. During his time Australia existed as separate colonies rather than a nation. There was no national flag, women could not vote and working conditions were harsh. People still identified with being British, however this was a pivotal period of Australia's history. Lawson's writing is still loved today for its rich source of information about the Australian bush and the people and has been identified as playing a key role in forging the identity of Australia. Many of Lawson's writings were based on events and people in his life.

For more information about Henry Lawson, click here.

Student Activities

Life in Sydney

Students explore the meaning of primary sources to uncover what life was like for Henry Lawson in Sydney.

Number of set tasks: 3

Henry Lawson's writing

Students listen to Australian actor Jack Thompson recite Henry Lawson's poetry and learn to recite The Free Selector's Daughter themselves.

Number of set tasks: 1

Henry Lawson's Poems

Students take inspiration from Henry Lawson's poetry and paintings from the State Library's collection to create their own poem.

Number of set tasks: 2

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum: English K-10

A student:

  • communicates effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes using increasingly challenging topics, ideas, issues and language forms and features EN3-1A
  • composes, edits and presents well-structed and coherent texts EN3-2A
  • uses an integrated range of skills, strategies and knowledge to read, view and comprehend a wide range of texts in different media and technologies EN3-3A
  • thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information and ideas and identifies connections between texts when responding to and composing texts. EN3-7C
  • identifies and considers how different viewpoints of their world, including aspects of culture, are represented in texts EN3-8D



Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • understand that different social and geographical dialects or accents are used in Australia in addition to Standard Australian English (ACELA1515)

Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • use appropriate metalanguage to identify and describe relationships between and among texts


Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • understand, interpret and experiment with the use of imagery in imaginative texts, poetry and songs, e.g. similes, metaphors, personification and sound devices such as alliteration.

Respond to and compose texts

  • create literary texts that experiment with structures, ideas and stylistic features of selected authors (ACELT1798)


Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • analyse how text structures and language features work together to meet the purpose of a text (ACELY1711)

Respond to, read and view texts

  • summarise a text and evaluate the intended message of theme


Engage personally with texts

  • interpret events, situations and characters in texts

Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • identify, describe, and discuss similarities and differences between texts, including those by the same author or illustrator, and evaluate characteristics that define an author's individual style (ACELT1616)
  • identify the relationship between words, sounds, imagery and language patterns in narratives and poetry such as ballads, limericks and free verse (ACELT1617)


Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • make connections between students' own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1613)
  • identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about particular social, cultural and historical contexts (ACELT1608)

In each year of Stage 3, students must study examples of:

  • spoken texts
  • print texts

Across the stage, the selection must give students experiences of:

  • texts which are widely regarded as quality literature
  • widely defined Australian literature, including texts that give insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia
  • wide range of literary texts, including poetry, drama scripts, prose fiction and picture books

HSIE - Australian Colonies

  • HT3-1 describes and explains the significance of people, groups, places and events to the development of Australia
  • HT3-2 describes and explains different experiences of people living in Australia over time
  • HT3-5 applies a variety of skills of historical inquiry and communication