Memories of Henry Lawson

Many of Henry Lawson's friends and acquaintances were notable figures in literary and artistic circles themselves. The following recollections of Lawson are by the poet Dame Mary Gilmore, the artist Sir Lionel Lindsay and the writer Hugh McCrae.

Poem and note by Mary Gilmore. Click to enlarge.

  Mary Gilmore, "Ghost Haunted Through the Street He Goes".

Typescript poem by Dame Mary Gilmore, signed and dated 23rd February, 1952. With an autograph note regarding the background of the poem. She says:

"Dear Mr Chaplin,
I had forgotten I ever wrote this! I only recalled it through the last stanza. It derives from a sight of Henry Lawson, hobbling in partial paralysis on a stick, going to the Bulletin Office, where, because he was no longer on top of the wave, he was treated with rudeness and contempt, as a nuisance. (He told me this, bitter and sad) ..."

Lawson Collection (Lawson 164)

Poem and note by Mary Gilmore. Click to enlarge.

  Mary Gilmore, "A Shade Upon the Street".

Typescript poem by Dame Mary Gilmore about Henry Lawson, with an autograph note commenting on Lawson's drinking habits, dated 6th June, 1961. She says:

"... people are still fools about Henry, saying he was a drunkard. He drank, but how could he have written all he did - prose, poetry and endless contributed articles and paragraphs ... had he been a drunkard. He was so often underfed that I have seen him come sober into The Worker Office, after one glass of beer, become tipsy as I talked to him, coming from the cold of winter into the warm air of the office."

Lawson Collection (Lawson 102)

Lionel Lindsay's recollections of Henry Lawson. Click to see pages 1 - 3.

  Autograph notes by Sir Lionel Lindsay of recollections of Henry Lawson, no date. He says:

"I came in regularly with Norman from Lavender Bay on my return from Spain and London in 1903 and first met Lawson at the North Shore (Quay) Wharf. There were seats provided in those pleasanter days and Henry would arise from one and walk towards us, smile, and say 'It'll cost you a tanner' and return to his seat, having collected like any Feudal Baron from his retainers. Later he would make for the Bulletin Pub and his daily habit was to gravitate between the Bulletin Office and Angus and Robertson, and the two pubs in their vicinity. His trouble was that he drank on an empty stomach and got quickly fuddled ..."

Lawson Collection (Lawson 170)


Hugh McCrae's recollections of Henry Lawson. Click to see pages 1 - 2.

  Autograph notes by the writer Hugh McCrae regarding his friendship with Henry Lawson, undated.

He says:

"A verse of Lawson's written on the occasion of my departure for America and published by the 'Bulletin' made me enjoy being myself for weeks ... (continues overleaf)
On Bulletin pay day at the Office door Henry regularly laid his arm across my shoulder preparatory to a hike along George Street as far as Town Hall. Neither of us spoke even when we came to the Bank of Australasia, our parting place, only silent friendship was expressed. Lawson bowed; swept off his hat. I did the same. He went one way I went another."

Lawson Collection (Lawson 47)

Letter by Thomas C. Lothian about Henry Lawson. Click to see pages 1 - 2.

  Typescript copy of a letter from Thomas C. Lothian, a Melbourne publisher, to Harry Chaplin, dated 12th September, 1961.

The letter concerns a visit to Melbourne made by Henry Lawson. He was sent there by George Robertson because Robertson was tired of him appearing in the Angus and Robertson shop.

Lawson Collection (Lawson 104)

Top Memories of Henry Lawson