First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on September 4, 1922
The death took place on Saturday morning of Mr. Henry Hertzberg Lawson. He was 55 years of age. His contributions to Australian literature, alike in the domain of poetry and of prose, had won for him an enduring and notable place in its annals.
Mr. Lawson’s remains will today be accorded a State funeral – fitting tribute to one who, in the great commonwealth of letters, has left the indelible impress of his genius.
For a long time Henry Lawson’s health had by no means been robust, although he was not confined to his home. Latterly he had lived at a cottage on Great North Road, Abbotsford, and during last week he visited the city, where he transacted some business. On Friday evening he had a seizure, and was assisted to bed, and was never quite conscious afterwards. On Saturday morning at about half past 10 o’clock the end came.
The body was taken to Wood Coffill’s parlours at Camperdown on Saturday afternoon, and remained there during the greater part of yesterday, when it was taken to the mortuary chapel at Wood Coffill’s establishment in George Street. Here it lies, and will remain until noon today. From 9 o’clock this morning until noon his friends will have an opportunity of viewing the remains. After that the coffin will be closed and removed toSt. Andrew’s Cathedral, where the funeral service will begin at a quarter past 2 o’clock. The cortege will then leave for Waverley Cemetery. It is expected that Archdeacon D’Arcy Irvine will officiate, both in the Cathedral and at the graveside.
HIS EARLY LIFE
Lawson was born in a tent near Grenfell, N.S.W., on June 17, 1867. His father was Peter Hertzberg Larsen, a Norwegian sailor, who, having left his ship at Melbourne, wandered off in the quest of gold to various diggings. Larsen, Anglicising his name, married Louisa Albury, daughter of a Kentish-man of gipsy origin and a Devon mother. Louisa Albury was born at Guntawang, near Mudgee in 1848 and was in her eighteenth year when she married. Mrs. Lawson was a remarkable woman, with many graces of character, destined to take a conspicuous and honourable part in public affairs in the years to come. She died in August, 1920, at the age of 72.
Lawson’s father, though a sea-man, was well educated – could write and speak good English, and an appreciation of German verse, and spoke French fairly well. He was a most industrious man, too, and toiled manfully as gold seeker, bush farmer, and builder for his young Australian wife and four children, of whom Henry was the eldest. The days of Lawson’s boyhood were passed in the “poor times.” The family was reared in circumstances that would today be considered those of poverty. His early manhood brought no change in this respect.
Lawson’s childhood was spent in the bush. He received a very meagre education. The family moved from place to place in the Mudgee district. At 14 he came to Sydney to ascertain if anything could be done for his hearing, and stayed with his grandparents at Granville, they having removed thither from Wallerawang. For a while he worked as a painter for an agricultural implement maker, earning 30/ a week. But treatment was unavailing, and he went back to the family home in the bush, where, as he wrote afterwards,“father was always going somewhere, with an axe or pick and shovel over his shoulder, and coming back late.”