The Drover's Wife single work   short story  
  • Author: Henry Lawson
Issue Details: First known date: 1892... 1892 The Drover's Wife
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form y The Drover's Wife Australia : Australian Broadcasting Commission , 1968 8119244 1968 single work film/TV

'It is a simple story about a drover's wife, left alone with her four children for months on end while her husband is droving.

'Her only protection is her stout spirit and her cattle dog, Alligator.

'The story opens when, late one day, she sees a venomous snake disappear under the hut's bedroom floor. She goes into the kitchen, where there is a dirt floor–the bedroom has a slab floor with cracks a snake could slide through.

'The wife beds the children down on the table, builds up the fire in the stove, and with Alligator, a snake-killing cattle dog, keeps vigil through the night, waiting for the snake.

'As she sits by the fire she thinks, in filmed flashbacks, of what her life has been since she married.

'Eventually, in the early morning, the snake appears, she kills it, and life goes on again without drama.'


'Killing a Snake with Conviction', Australian Women's Weekly, 18 September 1968

y The Drover's Wife Leah Purcell , 2016 8899019 2016 single work drama

'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.

'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…

'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Die Frau des Viehtreibers
Alternative title: Des Überländers Weib
Language: German

Works about this Work

'The Drover's Wife' : Celebrating or Demystifying Bush Mythology? Christine Texier-Vandamme , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Commonwealth Essays and Studies , Spring vol. 38 no. 2 2016; (p. 73-81)
The essay aims to show the cultural, aesthetic and identificatory displacements at work in the successive revisions and reinterpretations of Henry Lawson's "drover's wife" figure who became a national icon right away. It is quite interesting to note the surprising abstract and bare nature of both the figure and the bush, even in Lawson's original short story. They seem to crystallize national character precisely because they leave it rather unspecified and open to interpretation, except as a struggle to cope with one's adopted land and the acceptance of possible failure.' (Publication abstract)
Is There an Australian Pastoral Poetry? Andrew Taylor , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Le Simplegadi , November no. 14 2015; (p. 38-51)
Pastoral was common as a European literary genre from the Renaissance until the eighteenth century. It existed in other artistic forms as well, especially in the visual arts, and after its demise as a distinct genre elements of it persisted into the twentieth century, for example in music. With the colonial spread of European culture the pastoral influence also extended into other countries, with a mixed fate. Recently, the term Pastoral has come back into prominence in literature in English, not only in Great Britain but also, notably in the USA and Australia, with the growth of writing motivated by ecological involvement with the natural world, especially landscape. This has led to re-definitions of the term Pastoral in the last few decades. A number of Australian poets are looked at to see whether, and how, their writing about landscape might relate to, or incorporate elements of the Pastoral. The Australian poet John Kinsella, in particular, has been a widely published spokesperson for a new definition of Pastoral. His published works trace his move from a politically activist anti-colonialist redefinition of Pastoral towards a quieter, more harmonious, and essentially ethical engagement with the natural world.
Lecture Slides : The Drover's Wives Ryan O'Neill , 2014 single work prose
— Appears in: Seizure [Online] , July 2014;
Amazon Customer Review : The Drover's Wives Ryan O'Neill , 2014 single work prose
— Appears in: Seizure [Online] , July 2014;
A Vintage Wine : The Drover's Wives Ryan O'Neill , 2014 single work prose
— Appears in: Seizure [Online] , June 2014;
Last amended 14 Oct 2016 11:32:03