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  • Writer's pictureSimone Skopek

"The Drover's Wife" by Henry Lawson, audio by Simone Pertuiset

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

One of my all-time favorite short stories is Henry Lawson's classic tale, "The Drover's Wife", written in 1895 about a mother of four small children, who faces all manner of dangers deep in the Australian bush while her husband is away for months on end, earning a living as a sheep drover. The story has been reprised by several authors, analyzed by English students, adapted for the stage, TV and film, and has been featured on two Australian stamps (in 1991 and 2017).

The vast, hostile Australian Outback
The vast, hostile Australian Outback is the setting for Henry Lawson's classic short story, The Drover's Wife.

In the vast expanse of the outback, a woman is stranded in a small hut with her four young children. Her husband, a drover, has been away for six long months, leaving her to fend for herself and her family in the harsh wilderness. As the sun begins to set one day, a deadly snake slithers into their humble abode, and hides under the floorboards. With steely determination, the woman and her loyal dog, Alligator guard the children as the night drags on. She keeps herself awake with thoughts of all the past struggles she has surmounted in the unforgiving wilderness. Finally, as dawn breaks, the snake emerges from its hiding place and there is a heart-pounding confrontation.

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