Drovers Wife Henry Lawson Essay Checker

"The Drover's Wife"
AuthorHenry Lawson
Published inThe Bulletin
Media typeprint (magazine)
Publication date23 July 1892

"The Drover's Wife" is a dramatic short story by the Australian writer Henry Lawson. It recounts the story of an outback woman left alone with her four children in an isolated hut.[1]

The story was first published in the 23 July 1892 edition of The Bulletin magazine, and was subsequently reprinted in a number of the author's collections, and other anthologies (see below).

Plot summary[edit]

A woman in the outback is isolated in a small hut with her four children. Her husband has been away droving for six months and near sunset one day a snake disappears under the house. The children are put to bed and the woman waits with her dog, Alligator, for the snake to re-appear. Near dawn the snake emerges and it is killed by the woman and dog. It shows the eternal struggle of a lonely woman against what nature produces towards her.


"The Drover's Wife" first appeared in The Bulletin magazine on 23 July 1892. It was subsequently published in Short Stories in Prose and Verse, Lawson's 1894 collection of short stories and poetry. Since its initial publication it has become one of Henry Lawson's most re-published works.

  • Short Stories in Prose and Verse by Henry Lawson (1894)
  • While the Billy Boils by Henry Lawson (1896)
  • The Bulletin Story Book : A Selection of Stories and Literary Sketches from 'The Bulletin' [1881–1901] edited by Alfred George Stephens (1901)
  • Australian Short Stories edited by George Mackaness (1928)
  • The Children's Lawson edited by Colin Roderick (1949)
  • The Bulletin, 1 February 1950
  • Hemisphere vol. 1 no. 2, (1957)
  • Favourite Australian Stories edited by Colin Thiele (1963)
  • A Century of Australian Short Stories edited by Cecil Hadgraft and R. B. J. Wilson (1963)
  • Short Stories of Australia : The Lawson Tradition edited by Douglas Stewart (1967)
  • While the Billy Boils : 87 Stories from the Prose Works of Henry Lawson by Henry Lawson (1970)
  • The Bush Undertaker and Other Stories edited by Colin Roderick (1970)
  • Henry Lawson : Selected Stories edited by Brian Matthews (1971)
  • Best Australian Short Stories edited by Douglas Stewart and Beatrice Davis (1971)
  • Henry Lawson's Best Stories by Henry Lawson (1973)
  • The Old Bulletin Reader : The Best Stories from The Bulletin 1881–1901 (1973)
  • An Australian Selection : Short Stories By Lawson, Palmer, Porter, White and Cowan edited by John Barnes (1974)
  • The World of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone (1974)
  • The Bulletin, 29 January 1980
  • Short Stories by Henry Lawson (1981)
  • Prose Works of Henry Lawson by Henry Lawson (1982)
  • The Essential Henry Lawson : The Best Works of Australia's Greatest Writer edited by Brian Kiernan (1982)
  • A Camp-Fire Yarn : Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885–1900 edited by Leonard Cronin (1984)
  • Henry Lawson Favourites by Henry Lawson (1984)
  • My Country : Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer (1985)
  • Henry Lawson : An Illustrated Treasury by Henry Lawson (1985)
  • The Penguin Henry Lawson : Short Stories edited by John Barnes (1986)
  • Henry Lawson's Mates : The Complete Stories of Henry Lawson' by Henry Lawson (1987)
  • Australian Short Stories edited by Carmel Bird (1991)
  • The Penguin Book of 19th Century Australian Literature edited by Michael Ackland (1993)
  • An Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ch'oe Chin-yong and Cynthia Van Den Driesen (1995)
  • The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English edited by John Thieme (1996)
  • 200 Years of Australian Writing : An Anthology edited by James F.H. Moore (1997)
  • Classic Australian Short Stories edited by Maggie Pinkney (2001)
  • Henry Lawson edited by Geoffrey Blainey (2002)
  • The Campfire Yarns of Henry Lawson by Henry Lawson (2009)
  • Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby (2009)


  • Martin Flanagan and James Ley discussed the story at the Wheeler Centre.[2]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The Drover's Wife is a 1945 painting by Australian artist Russell Drysdale. While the painting doesn't specifically illustrate a scene from the story, it takes its title from it.[3]
  • Murray Bail's story, "The Drover's Wife" (1975), is based on Drysdale's painting and is narrated by the woman's first husband.[1]
  • Frank Moorhouse's story, "The Drover's Wife" (1980), satirises the bush ethos of Lawson and academics who study him.[1]
  • Barbara Jefferis's story, "The Drover's Wife" (1980), provides a feminist viewpoint of the story.[1]
  • Damien Broderick's story, "The Drover's Wife's Dog" (1991), narrates the story from the point of view of the dog.[1]

Television adaptation[edit]

In 1968, the Australian Broadcasting Commission created a 45-minute adaptation of the story, directed by Giancarlo Manara and featuring Clarissa Kaye in the lead role.[4]

Dramatic adaptation[edit]

In 2016 the story was adapted into a play by Leah Purcell. It premiered at the Belvoir Theatre in September 2016, and was directed by Leticia Cáceres.[5][6][7]


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‘The Drovers Wife’ + ‘In A Dry Season’
Authors such as Henry Lawson use language and other techniques to paint distinctively visual images to shape the meanings of their texts. Using these ideas Lawson creates images based on the struggles of life in the Australian bush. The two short stories ‘In a dry Season’ and ‘The Drover’s Wife’ represent the idea of how hard life in this inhospitable environment can be. Having lived in both the city and the bush Lawson is able to strongly distinguish between the two creating all round distinctive and entertaining stories. His uses of characterisation as well as adjectives to describe scenes and people, repetition to emphasise an action or feeling, and descriptions of bush life and relationships to…show more content…

There are no leaves on the trees and the branches are shown to be dry, sharp and dangerous reflecting again how bad the environment can be and supporting the distinctively visual elements created in one’s mind whilst reading the short sketch. It is as if Albert Tucker has painted the background of his image whilst sitting in the train Lawson talks about and looking outside.
Both the environment and its inhabitants are shown to be rugged and hardened by the landscape’s natural and ruthless elements, which is supported by the vivid imagery Lawson creates. Sarcasm and irony such as “death is about the only cheerful thing in the bush” again highlights the dangerous elements that encompass the environment, especially in the dry season. Both Lawson and Tucker effectively use visual techniques to create imagery of hardened and tough characters. Lawson’s use of descriptions has similarities to Tucker’s painting of a man who seems dry, empty and without emotion. His features are thin, sharp and harsh like the landscape, his expression is serious and his hat is flat like the fettlers. There is also an element of loneliness and isolation in these depictions and images.
There is a clear larrikin in Lawson’s sketch, being the man who exaggerates and lies about all of his stories. He is seen as ludicrous by Lawson’s scornful use of quotation marks around his use of slang, and the way he is described as a bush liar “in all his glory”


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