Effeminacy, mateship, love

Lawson as the drover's wife

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  • Published 20171107
  • ISBN: 9781925498424
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THIS YEAR – 2017 – is the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the Australian writer Henry Lawson. Lawson scholar Paul Eggert, in his book Biography Of A Book: Henry Lawson’s While The Billy Boils (Penn State University Press, 2012), writes, ‘Lawson, at fifty-five, died in poverty on the morning of 2 September, 1922, a Saturday.’

Well known around the streets of inner Sydney as a ruin of man, a sad alcoholic, he was nevertheless accorded a state funeral – on Monday the 4th… The first request for a state funeral by his publisher and the editor of Aussie, Phillip Harris, was turned down…but the chance arrival of the Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, by train on Sunday morning changed everything… A deputation including the poet, Mary Gilmore, put the case for a state funeral to him… He ordered the funeral for the next day at St Andrews ­Cathedral… His tribute read ‘Lawson knew intimately the real Australia, its droughts, its floods. He loved Australia… None was his master. He was the poet of Australia, the minstrel of the people.’

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