Lawson by Grantlee Kieza

The great 'People's Poet' and writer of short stories which have been compared to Chekhov's led a drama-packed life in which his travels ranged from Outback Australia to New Zealand and England. He also met many famous figures in Australian history, including Banjo Patterson, Mary Gilmore and Jack Lang. It was an almost unremittingly miserable life, though, and as I read the book, I couldn't help wondering what poor Henry would have to endure next!

The lanky, deaf child had a tough childhood in the 'bush' in which he was troubled by his parent's unhappy marriage, a meagre education and bullying at school. His mother was more interested in writing and women's rights than bringing up children and his father, a hard-working Norwegian, could never please her, and didn't share her intellectual interests. Even though Henry eventually became very successful with his highly-praised writing, in which he told the stories of the 'battler's and their long-suffering wives, he went from job to job carriage-painting, even travelling to Western Australia and NZ in search of work. At one stage, he and a friend walked for miles in the outback to find stories.

Henry had several problems to face - heavy drinking, an unhappy marriage, lack of money. Although he was likeable and generous, there are conflicting stories about his marriage, and just why it was so unhappy. He and the much younger Bertha were certainly unsuited. 

This is a dramatic story about a huge life. Grantlee Kieza pays the great Australian writer a fitting tribute in this excellent book.

I received this free ebook fromNetGalley in return for an honest review.


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