Cecil Hadgraft

It is surely one of the most widely believed tenets of Australia’s literary history that the short story has a special significance achieved with its rise to popularity in the 1890s under the patronage of the Bulletin and in the hands of a master craftsman like Henry Lawson. Orthodoxy has it that Australian literature was born in the 1890s: that is, it shucked off its colonial cast and developed a distinctly national stance with the emergence of what some call the tradition of formal bush realism and others the Lawson/Furphy tradition. So far as I know, no one has quibbled with the view put forward by Harry Heseltine in his introduction to the Penguin Book of Australian Short Stories (1976) that Henry Lawson was the ‘chronological founder of the tradition of the Australian short story’ and ‘the source of most that is imaginatively important in it.’

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