Jen Webb reviews 'The Drover’s Wives: 99 reinterpretations of Henry Lawson’s Australian Classic' by Ryan O’Neill

Jen Webb reviews 'The Drover’s Wives: 99 reinterpretations of Henry Lawson’s Australian Classic' by Ryan O’Neill

The Drover’s Wives: 99 reinterpretations of Henry Lawson’s Australian Classic

by Ryan O’Neill

Brio, $26.99 pb, 256 pp, 9781925589290

‘The Drover’s Wife’ was one of the first stories I read when I arrived in Australia. I was living in the bush then, in hard beautiful country, and though my difficulties were First World Problems I shared the Wife’s nostalgia for nights in comfortable hotels, reliable transport, medical services. I did admire the story, though its casual racism disturbed me; but I remain surprised by the hold that story has on our culture. She just won’t fade away, that exhausted woman, or her dog, or her sons (forget the daughters, as Lawson himself did); they keep re-emerging.

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Jen Webb

Jen Webb

Jen Webb is Distinguished Professor of Creative Practice at the University of Canberra, and Director of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research in the Faculty of Arts and Design. Her recent work includes the scholarly volumes Researching Creative Writing (Frontinus Press, 2015) and Art and Human Rights: Contemporary Asian Contexts (with Caroline Turner; Manchester UP, 2016), and the poetry volumes Watching the World (with Paul Hetherington; Blemish Books, 2015), Stolen Stories, Borrowed Lines (Mark Time, 2015) and Sentences from the Archive (Recent Work Press, 2016).

Published in August 2018, no. 403

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