While the Billy Boils

The Original Newspaper Versions

Henry Lawson, edited by Paul Eggert, and notes by Elizabeth Webby

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Format: paperback
450 pages
ISBN: 9781743320099

Publication: 01 Dec 2012

Publisher: Sydney University Press

Fifty-two of Henry Lawson's stories and sketches that he had first published in newspapers and magazines from 1888 onwards were gathered in his collection While the Billy Boils (Angus & Robertson, 1896). Lawson was not responsible for their ordering and he had to give ground on their texts, especially on his idiosyncratic presentation of wordings that helped to breathe life into his characters and situations. The present edition dismantles the fait accompli of 1896 by presenting the individual items in the chronological order of their first publication and with their original newspaper texts. This will allow a new appreciation of Lawson's writing, one that is attentive to his developing powers.

The edition also facilitates a close study of Lawson's collaboration with the producers of the collection in 1896, in particular with his copy-editor Arthur W. Jose and publisher George Robertson. Facsimile images (available online) of the printer's copy that they prepared for While the Billy Boils supplement the edition's listing of the alterations that each of them made, revealing the textual history of each story or sketch.

Elizabeth Webby is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Sydney.

Henry Lawson (1867-1922) was a short story writer, journalist, novellist and perhaps, most notably, a balladist. He contributed prose and verse to a number of publications including Bulletin, Daily Worker and Boomerang.

Paul Eggert FAHA is Professor Emeritus at Loyola University Chicago and the University of New South Wales. He is a scholarly editor, book historian and editorial theorist.

Note on the texts
Note on equivalences

While the Billy Boils: the original newspaper versions in chronological order

1. His father’s mate (Bulletin, 22 December 1888)
2. The story of Malachi (Bulletin, 22 June 1889)
3. Bogg of Geebung (Boomerang, 23 May 1891)
4. A visit of condolence: a study from life of a Sydney ‘larrikin’ (Bulletin, 23 April 1892)
5. A day on a selection. A sketch from observation (Bulletin, 28 May 1892)
6. Arvie Aspinall’s alarm clock (Bulletin, 11 June 1892)
7. The drover’s wife (Bulletin, 23 July 1892)
8. A Christmas in the far west; or, the bush undertaker (Antipodean, [November] 1892)
9. In a dry season (Bulletin, 5 November 1892)
10. Mitchell: a character sketch (Bulletin, 15 April 1893)
11. The union buries its dead. A bushman’s funeral. A sketch from life (Truth, 16 April 1893)
12. On the edge of a plain (Bulletin, 6 May 1893)
13. Mitchell doesn’t believe in the sack (Bulletin, 13 May 1893)
14. ‘Stragglers’: a sketch out back (Bulletin, 27 May 1893)
15. ‘Rats’ (Bulletin, 3 June 1893)
16. The shearing of the cook’s dog (Worker, 17 June 1893?)
17. ‘An old mate of your father’s’ (Worker, 24 June 1893)
18. Another of Mitchell’s plans for the future (Bulletin, 1 July 1893)
19. ‘Some Day.’ A swagman’s love story (Worker, 15 July 1893?)
20. A camp-fire yarn (Worker, 5 August 1893?)
21. His colonial oath (Bulletin, 5 August 1893)
22. The man who forgot (Truth, 6 August 1893)
23. When the sun went down (Worker, 19 August 1893)
24. ‘Tom’s selection.’ (A sketch of settling on the land) (Bulletin, 9 September 1893)
25. Macquarie’s mate (Brisbane Worker, 28 October 1893)
26. ‘Brummy Usen’ (Worker, 11 November 1893?)
27. ‘Dossing out’ and ‘camping’ (Worker, 25 November 1893)
28. ‘In a wet season.’ Along the line (Bulletin, 2 December 1893)
29. That there dog o’ mine. An Australian sketch (New Zealand Mail, 8 December 1893)
30. Coming across – a study in the steerage (New Zealand Mail, serialised 15 and 29 December 1893)
31. Hungerford (Bulletin, 16 December 1893)
32. Stiffner and Jim (thirdly Bill) (Pahiatua Herald, 9 March 1894)
33. Drifted back (Worker, 11 August 1894)
34. Remailed (Worker, 25 August 1894)
35. Shooting the moon (Worker, 22 September 1894)
36. ‘Board and residence’ (Worker, 29 September 1894)
37. Baldy Thompson. A sketch of a squatter (Worker, 13 October 1894)
38. He’d come back (Bulletin, 15 December 1894)
39. That swag [enter Mitchell] (Bulletin, 15 December 1894)
40. She wouldn’t speak (Worker, 15 December 1894)
41. His country – after all (Patriot, 22 December 1894)
42. The old bark school: an echo (Bulletin, 5 January 1895)
43. Some reflections on a voyage across Cook’s Straits (N.Z.) [across the Straits] (Worker, 12 January 1895)
44. Steelman (Bulletin, 19 January 1895)
45. Our pipes (Bulletin, 11 May 1895)
46. Jones’ alley (Worker, serialised 1, 8 and 15 June 1895)
47. Going blind (Worker, 29 June 1895)
48. Steelman’s pupil (Bulletin, 14 December 1895)
49. Two dogs and a fence (Worker, 21 December 1895)
50. An unfinished love story (Worker, 21 March 1896)
51. For auld lang syne (manuscript, by 25 April 1896)
52. The geological speiler (manuscript, by 2 May 1896)

'Reading this was for me a revelation. The text of the stories as first printed in newspapers has been restored. ‘[T]he accretions, intentions and sequencing of the 1896 book’ are stripped away ‘rather than treating them as the inevitable climax of a literary revolution’. The changes to the text over the years are charted, and the reader is directed to the University of Sydney’s e-scholarship website or to the State Library of New South Wales’ website, where digitised images of the printer’s copy with its various changes, deletions, and additions may be scrutinised.'
Paul Brunton   Australian Book Review

'Eggert reveals in fascinating detail the editing, design and production of While the Billy Boils and captures the personality of visionary publisher and canny businessman George Robertson, whose saturation publicity campaign resulted in more than 250 reviews, including a significant number in Britain.'
Craig Munro   Spectrum

Format: paperback
Size: 210 × 148 × 25 mm
450 pages
1 colour illustration and 7 b&w illustrations
Copyright: © 2012
ISBN: 9781743320099
Publication: 01 Dec 2012