Henry Lawson, 1867–1922
Release date: 13 June 2017
Henry Lawson (1867–1922) was a writer and poet, who was known as the “Poet of the People”. His writing was distinctly Australian, with stories, characters and language that reflected various aspects of Australian life and identity, both pre and post Federation, including republicanism, poverty and his own experiences in the outback. Along with his contemporary Banjo Patterson, Lawson is an important figure in Australia’s early literary culture. He is remembered and critically acclaimed for his short stories, though he did also publish many poems.
Henry Lawson was born on 17 June 1867 at Grenfell, New South Wales. Lawson was a fairly unhappy child. His compulsion to write is said to have been due, in part, to his deafness, which had developed after childhood illness and caused him to turn inwards. Sadly, bouts of alcoholism and a failed marriage fuelled a literary and personal decline in the latter part of his life.
This stamp issue commemorates the 150-year anniversary of his birth.
Learn more about Lawson’s life and writing.
The stamps, illustrated by Jamie and Leanne Tufrey, depict two pieces of Lawson’s short fiction: the very well-known “The Drover’s Wife” and the lesser known “Mitchell: a Character Sketch”. The stories are conveyed through emblematic scenes from each.
$1 The Drover’s Wife
“The Drover’s Wife” represents Lawson’s more traditional narrative writing style. The story is set in the remote outback. A strong, long-suffering drover’s wife is left in an isolated hut with four children to tend to, while her drover husband travels for months at a time. The wife displays the resilience to overcome both loneliness and the harsh environment.
$2.95 Mitchell: A Character Sketch
“Mitchell: A Character Sketch” is a comedic story that follows the theme of the “little man” who outsmarts figures of authority. Peppered with the slang of the time, the story follows a conversation between Mitchell, a jackeroo and the station cook and his manager, as Mitchell seeks to obtain food for himself and his mates.
The imagery in the minisheet, also by Jamie and Leanne Tufrey, relates to the imaginative life of Henry Lawson.