Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson was born on the 17th June 1867 in a town on the Grenfell goldfields of New South Wales, Australia.
As a youth an ear infection had left him partially deaf and by fourteen he had lost his hearing completely.
He immersed himself in books to make up for the difficulties of a classroom education but later failed to gain entry to a University.
His first published poem was 'A Song of the Republic' in The Bulletin on 1st October 1887. This was quickly followed by other poems with one recognising him as ‘’a youth whose poetic genius here speaks eloquently for itself.”
In 1892, The Bulletin engaged him for an inland trip where he could write articles about the harsh realities of life in drought-stricken New South Wales. This resulted in his contributions to the Bulletin Debate and became the experience for a number of his stories in subsequent years. For Lawson this was an eye-opening period. His grim view of the outback was far removed from the romantic idyll of contemporary poetry and literature.
In 1896, Lawson married Bertha Bredt, Jr. but the marriage ended in June 1903. They had two children.
Despite this Lawson was finding his way in the literary world and achieving recognition. His most successful prose collection ‘While the Billy Boils’, was published in 1896. In it he virtually reinvented Australian realism.
His writing style of short, sharp sentences with honed and sparse descriptions created a personal writing style that defined Australians: dryly laconic, passionately egalitarian and deeply humane.
Sadly, for Lawson despite his growing recognition and fame he became withdrawn and unable to take part in the usual routines of life. His struggles with alcohol and mental health issues continued to drain him. His once prolific literary output began to decline. At times he was destitute mainly due, despite good sales and an enthusiastic audience, to ruinous publishing deals he had entered into.
Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson died, of cerebral hemorrhage, in Abbotsford, Sydney on 2nd September 1922.