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Over the Sliprails   By: (1867-1922)

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Over the Sliprails by Henry Lawson is a remarkable collection of short stories that offers a captivating insight into the lives and struggles of the people living in the Australian outback during the late 19th century. With his vivid descriptions and compelling storytelling, Lawson paints a vivid picture of a rugged and unforgiving landscape that has a profound impact on the characters and their experiences.

The collection begins with the titular story, "Over the Sliprails," which sets the tone for the rest of the book. It introduces the readers to Lawson's distinct narrative style, where he effortlessly combines humor with poignant observations about the harsh realities of bush life. The story follows two travelers who meet by chance at a bush pub and engage in a witty, yet thought-provoking conversation about the perils and peculiarities of their respective professions. This tale serves as an excellent introduction to Lawson's skill at capturing the essence of Australian bush culture.

Throughout the book, Lawson delves into various themes such as isolation, survival, and the complexities of human relationships. In "Mitchell: A Character Sketch," he explores the concept of resilience and the lengths to which individuals are willing to go to survive in the harsh outback. The character of Mitchell is a prime example of Lawson's ability to create multi-dimensional and relatable characters who resonate with readers.

Lawson's masterful use of vivid descriptions transports readers to the Australian bush and immerses them in its distinctive atmosphere. His attention to detail is evident in stories like "The Drover's Wife," where he paints a vivid portrait of a courageous woman left alone to defend her family against the dangers of the wilderness. Through his words, readers can feel the scorching sun, inhale the dusty air, and hear the howling of dingoes in the distance.

Furthermore, Over the Sliprails serves as a valuable historical document, providing insights into the hardships and joys of a bygone era in Australia. Lawson explores the dynamics between indigenous Australian communities and the settlers, shedding light on the prejudices and tensions that existed during that time. By intertwining these historical contexts with his narratives, the author not only entertains but also educates readers about an important period in Australian history.

While the stories in Over the Sliprails are fictional, they possess a remarkable authenticity that offers readers a genuine glimpse into the realities of life in the Australian outback. Lawson's taut and engaging prose keeps readers hooked from the first page to the last, ensuring that each story is a memorable experience.

In conclusion, Over the Sliprails is an exceptional collection of short stories that showcases Henry Lawson's prowess as a writer. With his richly developed characters, evocative descriptions, and exploration of important societal themes, Lawson delivers a book that will resonate with readers long after they have turned the final page. This collection is a must-read for anyone seeking an authentic and engaging portrayal of life in the Australian outback.

First Page:


By Henry Lawson

Author of "While the Billy Boils", "When the World was Wide and Other Verses", "On the Track", "Verses: Popular and Humorous", &c.

[Note on text: Italicized words or phrases are capitalised. Some obvious errors have been corrected.]


Of the stories in this volume many have already appeared in the columns of [various periodicals], while several now appear in print for the first time.

H. L. Sydney, June 9th, 1900.


The Shanty Keeper's Wife A Gentleman Sharper and Steelman Sharper An Incident at Stiffner's The Hero of Redclay The Darling River A Case for the Oracle A Daughter of Maoriland New Year's Night Black Joe They Wait on the Wharf in Black Seeing the Last of You Two Boys at Grinder Brothers' The Selector's Daughter Mitchell on the "Sex" and Other "Problems" The Master's Mistake The Story of the Oracle


The Shanty Keeper's Wife

There were about a dozen of us jammed into the coach, on the box seat and hanging on to the roof and tailboard as best we could. We were shearers, bagmen, agents, a squatter, a cockatoo, the usual joker and one or two professional spielers, perhaps... Continue reading book >>

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