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The Boys from St Francis

Stories of the remarkable Aboriginal activists, artists and athletes who grew up in one seaside home

Ashley Mallett

The Boys from St Francis
This remarkable true story pays tribute to a band of Aboriginal boys who grew up together in one group home - many succeeding spectacularly in later life.

In 1945, Anglican priest Father Percy Smith brought six boys from their Northern Territory home to an Adelaide beach suburb. There, they became the first boys of St Francis, a place that would house 50 such boys over 11 years. Some were sent, with the blessing of their mothers, to gain an education. Others were members of the Stolen Generations.

In their interviews with Ashley Mallett, many of these men recall Father Smith's kindness and care. His successors, however, were often brutal, and the boys faced prejudice in a wider world largely built to exclude Indigenous Australians. The Boys from St Francis is a multi-layered tale of triumph against the odds - using the early building blocks of education and sporting prowess. Many of them went on to become fiercely effective advocates for Aboriginal causes, achieving significant progress not just for themselves, but for Aboriginal people, changing their world for the better.

Activist Charles Perkins, the first Indigenous man to receive a university degree, commenced his status as a national icon with the 1965 Freedom Rides. John Moriarty, the first Indigenous man picked for the national soccer team, designed the famous Dreaming images for five Qantas planes. Harold Thomas created the iconic Aboriginal flag. Vince Copley played football for the Port Adelaide Magpies. George Kruger worked with Fred Hollows in remote Indigenous communities for nearly 20 years.

The Boys from St Francis is a sometimes shocking, but ultimately hopeful book about black and white Australia, told through one constellation of lives, sharing one seaside address.

Praise for The Boys from St Francis
'Ashley Mallett's book highlights the amazing impact that the boys from St Francis had on Australian society. He would like to see their stories more widely known. A good start would be to have this book in every school library.' - Helen Eddy, ReadPlus

A born storyteller, Ashley Mallett was asked to write the story of The Boys from St Francis by Ngadjuri elder and former resident of the home, Vince Copley, AM. Ashley's 30-odd books include the definitive history of the 1868 Aboriginal Australian Cricket Tour of England, The Black Lords of Summer (UQP 2002).

Ashley Mallett, who lives in Adelaide, regards The Boys from St Francis as his most important work.
Category History
Format Paperback
Size 210 x 140 mm
ISBN 9781743055809
Extent 304 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST
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