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Ten Hail Marys

An extraordinary story of hope and survival.

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In January 1966, Kate Howarth gave birth to a healthy baby boy at St Margaret’s Home for unwed mothers in Sydney. In the months before the birth, and the days after, she resisted intense pressure to give up her son for adoption, becoming one of the few women to ever leave the institution with her baby. She was only sixteen years old.

What inspired such courage?

In Ten Hail Marys, Kate Howarth vividly recounts the first seventeen years of her life in Sydney’s slums and suburbs and in rural New South Wales. Abandoned by her mother as a baby and then by ‘Mamma’, her volatile grandmother, as a young girl, Kate was shunted between Aboriginal relatives and expected to grow up fast. A natural storyteller, she describes a childhood beset by hardship, abuse, profound grief and poverty, but buoyed with the hope that one day she would make a better life for herself.

Frank, funny and incredibly moving, Ten Hail Marys is the compelling true story of a childhood lost, and a young woman’s hard-won self-possession.

Kate Howarth, author of Settling Day, and Ten Hail Marys

Kate Howarth

Kate Howarth was born in Sydney in 1950 and grew up in Sydney’s Darlington and Parramatta, and far western New South Wales. At the age of fifty-two she began writing her memoir, Ten Hail Marys, which in 2008 was shortlisted for the David Unaipon Award for Indigenous writers. After publication it won the Age Book of the Year – Non-fiction and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Settling Day is her second volume of memoir.