Lawson, Henry

The most famous and influential Australian literary figure of the 19th Century. Born at Grenfell, NSW; partially deafened at age 9 by illness; deafness near-total by age 14. Attended a rudimentary bush school, spent a brief time in a Catholic school, then went to night school for a while but never finished; remained sensitive about his lack of education for the rest of his life. Worked with his father as a builder 1881-1883, then apprenticed to a coach-painting company. Was associated with his suffragette mother's reform and radical social efforts. His first publication, a poem, appeared in 1887, followed by more verse, ballads, short stories, and essays. Although he wrote and published fairly consistently for the rest of his life, he very often had to work at various odd jobs to make a living. Married a hearing woman. Went to New Zealand twice, the second time in 1897 as teacher of a small Maori school on NZ's South Island. Became more mentally unstable and battled continually with alcoholism. Travelled to Great Britain 1899-1902 iu a misguided attempt to find greater success and income as a writer. Returned to Australia; last 20 years of his life were a slow decline into poverty and alcoholism. Spent time hospitalized for mental illness, but continued to write and publish up to his death. Granted a government pension shortly before his death. Posthumous honors given to him by Australia included a state funeral, a monument put up in the Sydney Domain, and his portait on both an Australian postage stamp and on the Australian $10 bill.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, v.230, p.217-233.
17 June 1867-2 September 1922