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  • Published: 1 April 2008
  • ISBN: 9781741666144
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99

The Forgotten Children

Fairbridge Farm School and its Betrayal of Britain's Child Migrants to Australia




B-format of one of 2007’s Australian non-fiction bestsellers.

In 1959 David Hill’s mother – a poor single parent living in England – reluctantly decided to send her sons to Fairbridge Farm School in New South Wales where, she was led to believe, they would have a good education and a better life. David was lucky – his mother was able to follow him out to Australia – but for most children, the reality was shockingly different. From 1938 to 1974 thousands of parents were persuaded to sign over legal guardianship of their children to Fairbridge to solve the problem of child poverty in Britain while populating the colony. Now many of those children have decided to speak out. Physical and sexual abuse was not uncommon. Loneliness was rife. Food was often inedible. The standard of education was appalling.Here, for the first time, is the story of the lives of the Fairbridge children, from the bizarre luxury of the voyage out to Australia to the harsh reality of the first days there; from the crushing dailyroutine to stolen moments of freedom and the struggle that defined life after leaving the school. This remarkable book is both a tribute to the children who were betrayed by an ideal that went terribly awry and a compelling account of an extraordinary episode in Australian–British History.

  • Published: 1 April 2008
  • ISBN: 9781741666144
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

David Hill

David Hill is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, David studied at Victoria University of Wellington and became a high-school teacher, teaching both in New Zealand and the UK. In 1982 he became a full-time writer and his first novel for teenagers, See Ya, Simon (1992), about a boy with muscular dystrophy, was shortlisted for major awards in New Zealand and the UK and won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. An enduringly popular novel used as a class text in high schools all over New Zealand, in 2002 it was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book.

David has published more than 40 titles over the past three decades. His recent middle-grade novels include My Brother's War (2012), which in 2013 won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Librarian's Choice Award and was listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book, a White Raven and an IBBY Honour book. This was followed by novels Brave Company (2014) – also a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book; The Deadly Sky (2015); Enemy Camp (2016), which won the 2016 HELL Children’s Choice Award for Junior Fiction; Flight Path (2017), a Storylines Notable Book; and Finding (May 2018).

David is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books with illustrator Phoebe Morris. First to the Top (2015) is their bestselling story of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, which won the 2016 Children's Choice Award for non-fiction and was a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Speed King (2016), about the world-record-breaking achievements of Burt Munro, and Sky High (2017), recounting the life of the daring aviator Jean Batten, were both presented with Storylines Notable Picture Book awards. Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake's Mighty Ocean Quests was published in 2018 and Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen's Awesome Fossil Discoveries was published in 2019.

In 2004 David was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2005 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, acknowledging his significant contribution to children's literature in New Zealand.

He lives in New Plymouth with his wife Beth, and juggles his many writing projects with numerous school visits, leading professional development for teachers, mentoring new and emerging writers and tutoring creative writing.

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Praise for The Forgotten Children

This book is a heartbreaker you can’t put down, a calmly narrated and impeccably researched tale of children from poor British families transported to Australia not in the eighteenth but in the twentieth century; of their bewildered and graphic adventures under the emotional and physical parsimony of the Fairbridge Farm School ... The reader yearns to reach out to the children who, say, are given guns to shoot rabbits and use them to suicide instead. For Hill to be able to detail the story in such clinical detail is itself a triumph of spirit and craft and humane forgiveness.’ TOM KENEALLY

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