Review Blog

Jan 27 2015

Henry Lawson Treasury ill. by Oslo Davies

cover image

Random House, 2014. ISBN 9780857985132
Ask about Australia's best-known authors and poets and Henry Lawson's name will be amongst the list for sure. Born in 1867 and a contemporary of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, he has been dubbed 'Australia's greatest short story writer' and the 'poet of the people'. Certainly his stories and poems have endured through the generations and in this collection, illustrated in a fitting style by Oslo Davies, many of his best-know pieces are brought together and made accessible to a new generation. From Up the Country to The Bush Undertaker to The Loaded Dog readers can enjoy his mastery of the language, his laugh-out-loud humour, and gain an insight into life of late 19th century Australia. Given that Banjo Paterson's Clancy of the Overflow is a personal favourite, I really like Lawson's response in The City Bushman.
Written with humour, description and an eye and ear for the sights and sounds of the landscape, mature and independent readers will welcome the opportunity to become acquainted with Lawson's work and understand why his work has survived the test of time and technology. His ability to bring to life the spirit of the people of the bush through their success, failures, loyalty, comradeship, pragmatism continues that stereotypical picture of the laconic, laidback larrikin that typifies the city image of the country.
This is the perfect edition of Lawson's work to introduce upper primary or lower secondary learners to his portfolio. As we commemorate the centenary of World War I, a display of literature that portrays life at home at the time would be appropriate and help students understand the greater impact of the hostilities.
And perhaps even spark an investigation into what, if anything, has changed.
Does the stereotype still exist?
Barbara Braxton

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