Henry Lawson (1867-1922), short story writer and balladist, was born on 17 June 1867 at Grenfell, New South Wales, eldest of four surviving children of Niels Hertzberg (Peter) Larsen, Norwegian-born miner,...
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Australian Dictionary of Biography
Henry Lawson is remembered as one of Australia's most prolific and iconic poets and writers. At the age of sixteen Lawson moved from rural New South Wales to Sydney to live with his mother Louisa Lawson, an activist for the women's movement and also a publisher. Here he became involved with the republican movement and in 1887 his first literary works were published by The Bulletin and in his mother's periodical the Republican. In 1892 he travelled throughout rural New South Wales and the harshness of the Australian bush left a marked impression on him, inspiring many of his greatest poems. In the 1890s, he published his best known works; While the Billy Boils, a compilation of short stories and a collection of poetry titled In the Days When the World was Wide.
Lawson's literary works commonly depict Australian urban and rural life. His images of the bush and the people who lived there have contributed greatly to Australian cultural identity. Many of his poems and ballads have been passed into folklore in the form of recitations and songs, particularly in the bush or rural Australia. This is evident through the work of numerous folklore collectors and performers who have documented many songs and recitations based on Lawson's works. Among the most common are Andy's Gone with the Cattle, Freedom on the Wallaby, Ballad of the Drover, Taking His Chance and The Drover's Wife, all of which have been set to music and widely circulated as songs since their publication. In 1989 many of these songs were published in Chris Kempster's The Songs of Henry Lawson.