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Woodpecker single work   short story  
Issue Details: First known date: 1933... 1933 Woodpecker
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

A tale of a starving group of Indigenous Australians, who wander seeking food. When they find a bees' nest, they cannot climb sufficiently to reach it. One man promises to return with his brother-in-law, a notable climber. But to return in time, they must break a cultural taboo, and the man is haunted by the fear that this will be revealed.


  • The author uses a number of Indigenous words (which are likely not all from the same language), but it is unclear whether the taboo in question is real or invented for narrative purposes.
  • The title comes from the brother-in-law's transformation, at the end of the story, 'into a tiny bird, commonly known to us as the woodpecker'. However, Australasia is not home to any species of woodpecker. The author perhaps means the Australian treecreeper (Climacteridae), sometimes called the woodpecker.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Table Talk Annual 9 October 1933 8892432 1933 periodical issue 1933 pg. 33-34
Last amended 21 Oct 2015 12:32:09