Living In Hope; the complete memoirs of Frank Byrne
is the first title in our new truth-telling series
Living In Hope is a distinctive memoir by Stolen Generations survivor, the late Mr. Frank Byrne, in which he tells the story of his life-long search for his mother. It was Mr. Byrne’s dream for his complete memoirs to be published as part of the truth-telling movement for future generations.
“This is a very strong story of survival. A tragic reminder of the harshness and unfairness of the mission era but also the toughness and determination of our people.” – Bruce Pascoe
Extract of Case 442. Documentary film about Mr. Frank Byrne by CAAMA Productions.
A collaboration with ‘Bringing Them Home’ counsellors Gerard Waterford and Frances Coughlan, Living In Hope began with a three-week road trip through the Kimberley, retracing Mr. Byrne’s childhood steps, and meeting with family, friends and fellow Stolen Generations survivors.
Photo by Chris Hallet, 18 August 2015. On the road between Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing.
Sadly, Mr. Byrne was diagnosed with cancer shortly after returning from this trip. Despite his illness, he continued to work on his book, and he and his writing team completed a full manuscript of his life story shortly before he died.
Mr. Byrne launched the first three chapters of his story as part of the Inland Writers Series by Ptilotus Press at the NT Writers Festival in May 2017 among his family and friends.
“The late Frank Byrne was a storyteller. As a survivor of the stolen generations, he saw acutely how the sins of the past were reverberating in the present. He believed that his story, the story of which he was the boss, could be instructive. And that the telling was important” – ABC Radio National
Mr. Byrne stands alongside his grandaughter, Delphene Byrne, as she reads from Living In Hope at the launch in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, May 2017.
Later that year, Mr. Byrne returned to his country in the Kimberley where he died on 20 October 2017. He is buried beside his mother Maudie Yoorungul in the family graveyard outside Fitzroy Crossing. His story lives on.
“Living in hope is a good title, as Frank’s story shows that hope thrives on openness to what is generous and needful in others. This is a memoir of finding things, not just of losing them. I hope it finds a place in the reading of all Australians who are growing up” – Alice Springs News Online
Mr. Byrne’s son, Trevor, and grandaughter, Delphene receive the Best Non-Fiction Territory Read Award 2018 on his behalf. Photo: NT Writers Centre.
The Inland Writers Series edition of Living In Hope (2017), the first three chapters of his eighteen chapter manuscript, has recieved national and international acclaim since Mr. Byrne’s passing.
It was selected for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation Book Supply program in 2018 which saw over 500 copies enter schools Australia-wide. It won Best Non-Fiction Territory Read Award 2018 by the NT Writer’s Centre and the Most Underrated Book Award 2018 by the Small Press Network.
“Told in simple but powerful language, the story is one that all Australians should read to understand the impact of the Stolen Generations on individual lives’ – Small Press Network
Mr. Byrne’s son, Trevor, accepts the Most Underrated Book Award 2018 on behalf of his father.
In the wake of the MUBA18 award, NewSouth Books (UNSW Press), signed a national distribution agreement with Ptilotus Press and has since distributed Living In Hope to over 60 outlets across Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is has received national acclaim in the media including by The Age, ABC Radio National, National Indigenous Times and more.
As anyone who has read the small book (which represents the first three chapters of the full-length manuscript), will testify, Frank Byrnes’ story is an extraordinary one – beautifully told; heart wrenching, but without pathos. At the same time, what is a personal story speaks strongly into an historical silence ready to be filled, a literary landscape in need of re-storying. While reports of the treatment of Aboriginal people as a consequence of misguided policy may have emerged in the past twenty years, it is personal life stories that enable us to understand and to empathise. Living in Hope contests the single narrative of this history by fleshing out the life of the child at the centre of it – Dani Powell, Director of NT Writers Festival 2015-2019
In 2019, Living In Hope was selected by the Australian Publishers Association to be showcased at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest publishing industry event in the world. A German reader contacted Ptilotus Press with this feedback on the book:
“Dear Ptilotus Press, I got one of your books which is titled “Living in Hope” at 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair and have really enjoyed reading it. I find the memoir very educational especially for someone who comes from Europe and has a limited knowledge about what happened to the Aboriginal people in Australia. The story is very touching and I think it is great that it can be kept in a written form for generations to come. Thank you for publishing such a great book” – Jan