LAWSON, HENRY (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, and his wife Louisa, née Albury.
Larsen went to sea at 21 and, after many voyages, arrived in Melbourne in 1855
where he jumped ship and joined the gold rush. He and Louisa were married in 1866
and Henry (the surname changed when the parents registered the birth) was born
about a year later, by which time the marriage was already showing some signs of
stress. The family moved often as Peter followed the gold but, in August 1873 with
the birth of their third child imminent, they finally settled back at Pipeclay
where they had started from. Peter took up a selection which Louisa managed; she
also ran a post office in his name while he worked as a building contractor around
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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.