The Drover’s Wife – Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson was born in Grenfell, New South Wales in 1867. his mother published a weekly newspaper. She also published his first book Short Stories in Prose and Verse in which he wrote:

“The first seventeen years of my life were spent on the goldfield and, therefore, I didn’t need to go back, in imagination, to a time before I was born and to a country I have never seen, for literary material.”

Among his best known books are While the Billy Boils, On the Track and Over the Sliprails. He died in 1922.

First lines:

The two-roomed house is built of round timber, slabs, and stringy-bark, and floored with split slabs. A big, bark kitchen standing at one end is larger than the house itself, verandah included.

Bush all round – bush with no horizon, for the country is flat. No ranges in the distance. The bush consists of stunted, rotten, native apple-trees. No undergrowth. Nothing to relieve the eye save the darker green of a few sheoaks which are sighing above the narrow, almost waterless, creek. Nineteen miles to the nearest house.

The drover, an ex-squatter, is away with sheep. His wife and children are left here alone.

Last line:

And she hugs him to her breast and kisses him; and they sit thus together while the sickly daylight breaks over the bush.

Most exciting line:

”Snake! Mother, here’s a snake!”

Saddest lines:

All days are much the same to her; but on Sunday afternoons, she dresses herself, tidies the children, smartens-up baby and goes for a lonely walk along the bush track, pushing an old perambulator in front of her. She does this every Sunday. She takes as much care to make herself and the children look smart as she would if she were going to “do the block” in the city. There is nothing to see, however, and not a soul to meet.

The layman’s plot: Woman living with four kids and a dog, waiting for her husband to return from droving for six months and counting, receives an unwanted guest: a snake. How will she solve this thorny and dangerous domestic problem? Or will the snake claim one of the members of the house?

Verdict: Plot as straight as a ruler.

Read The Drover’s Wife

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