PRH acquires Leah Purcell’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’
Penguin Random House (PRH) has acquired world rights to Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, a novel based on Purcell’s play of the same name.
The novel is inspired by Purcell’s 2016 play, which was first performed at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre in late 2016. In it, Purcell reimagines Henry Lawson’s famous short story and portrays the drover’s wife as ‘a righteous avenger—on behalf of herself, her children and what turns out to be her race—in a savage male world’.
‘Henry Lawson’s story of a woman fending for herself and her children has been with me for over 40 years. The first time I heard it was as a small child, when my mother read it aloud to me. I was gifted with this story then, and now, as an adult, I am so proud to be able to share it with all Australians,’ said Purcell.
PRH group publishing director Nikki Christer described Purcell’s retelling as ‘utterly authentic, brilliantly plotted and thoroughly harrowing’.
‘She has created a figure, Molly Johnson, who is as resonant and significant as Ned Kelly, whose story speaks to many of our nation’s contemporary themes,’ said Christer.
As previously reported by Books+Publishing, Purcell’s play, published by Currency Press, won the $30,000 playwriting prize and the $10,000 Book of the Year prize at the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, when it was the first play to win Book of the Year.
PRH will publish The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson in print, ebook and audiobook formats in 2019.