Plowright Press - Ordinary Lives - Flo: Child Migrant from Liverpool

Flo: Child Migrant from Liverpool

Flo: Child Migrant from Liverpool

by Flo Hickson
ISBN 9780951696033
£9.95 (UK)
224 pp including photos
Edited by Anne Bott

First published autobiography of a female ‘child migrant’. Flo, aged seven in 1928, was sent involuntarily - like thousands of children from Britain to Australia - to add to ‘good white stock’, even though she had relatives willing to care for her in Liverpool.

I found Flo: Child Migrant from Liverpool useful for a school project. I didn’t know about things like this before: I mean children having to leave this country.

SY, Lancs.

This poignant book adds another dimension to the thousands of children who were brought here, often unaware they had parents and siblings, to fill an empty land.

Perth Sunday Times

Flo is to be congratulated on her persistence in documenting her life.

Writers Voice, NSW

We all know about the Dunera boys but we need to learn more about the Flo Hicksons

Canberra Times

Flo’s narrative is as convincing as it is decidedly out of the ordinary. A very real person emerges whose hardships never made her bitter, and it is not surprising that the book was well revieved. Not merely were Liverpool signing sessions successful, but the Lord Mayor held a private reception as a symbolic homecoming for Flo, who travelled specially from Down Under for her book’s publication.

Writers News, UK

Extracts from the Book

My mother was pregnant and there were terrible arguments all the time. She used to roam the streets at night to get away from him ...

It was as we boarded the ship that someone took my doll away. It was made of celluloid and I was told I could not take it to Australia as it would burst into flames and start a bushfire. I cried, I had nothing left.

... or had she [Cottage Mother] suddenly decided to find fault with me (she used to do this with me and the other girls) and she would look until she could find something to be really cruel about. I was shaken awake and told I was a slovenly girl while being boxed around the ears and pushed roughly.

She [Head Matron] sat herself on a chair at the end of the bath, while we all stood there naked and, one by one, lined up and standing beside the bath, we would wet the soap and, shiveringly, soap ourselves all over.

I told Cathy the real truth for leaving and she told me the real truth of the small rabbit fur cape she had around her shoulders. She too was being used by the man of the house . . .

I did not return to Fairbridge until June 1987, to what I thought was going to be a joyful reunion . . . Instead, as I walked into the Church of the Holy Innocents, the wall that was around my heart broke as the horror of so many children being deprived of home and country was brought home to me.


Flo Hickson during a book signing at Dillons in Liverpool.
Flo Hickson during a book signing at Dillons in Liverpool. She spoke on Merseyside, Nottingham, National, World Service and New South Wales Radio about her book.
Flo: Child Migrant from Liverpool was used in evidence about child migrants given to Government Enquiries in both the UK and in Australia.

After her book’s publication, other women who were once child migrants wrote to Flo, or to Plowright Press, expressing joy that she was brave enough to speak out. The following extract is from an article about Flo Hickson by Ruth I. Johns which appeared in Caduceus Magazine, issue 47:-

“There are women child migrants who still cannot talk of their childhood to their spouses and children. It is felt to be too shameful, sometimes by their spouses, sometimes by themselves. I have letters to prove this. It may be hard to understand such continuing personal silence now that we are all supposed to understand more about the harm of institutionalised upbringings and that they never were, or are, the fault of the children. But such is the power of a culture of fear which silences. Some, who are still silent, feel that, by telling her truth, Flo is a beacon for them.

“For example, the daughter of a child migrant wrote for a copy from Western Australia. Her mother, who was also brought up at the Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra, had six children, five of whom (including herself) were adopted. She has not found her mother but Flo’s book will help to fill in some of the background of her missing mother’s childhood, and perhaps help the daughter to understand why her mother let go of five of her children to adoption. Flo’s story explains eloquently why so many ex-Fairbridge girls had difficult relationships.”

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