A Fortunate Life

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A Fortunate Life
A Fortunate Life (book cover).jpg
Author A.B. Facey
Cover artist Robert Juniper
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Autobiographical, Drama
Published 1981 (Puffin, Hardcover Viking, Penguin Books Australia, Ltd.)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0670807060

A Fortunate Life is an autobiography by Albert Facey published in 1981, nine months before his death. It chronicles his early life in Western Australia, his experiences as a private during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I and his return to civilian life after the war. It also documents his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love.

During the initial days of its publication, Albert Facey became a nationwide celebrity. Despite his renowned life, Facey considered his life to be simple and “had no idea what all the fuss was about”. When asked on an interview, where the name of the book originated. He replied, “I called it 'A Fortunate Life' because I truly believe that is what I had”.

After its great reception it has become a classic piece of Australian literature and is one of Australia’s most beloved books. Since its publication in 1981 it has become a primary account of the Australian experience during World War I. It is also featured in many Australian primary and secondary schools as a reading book for young adults.

Overview[edit]

Plot summary[edit]

The autobiography begins at his birth. Albert Barnett Facey was born in Maidstone, Victoria, Australia, in 1894. His father died on the Goldfields of Western Australia in 1896 of typhoid fever and Albert's mother left her children to the care of their grandmother shortly afterwards. In 1899 he moved from Victoria to Western Australia in the care of his grandmother, Mrs. Jane Carr (born 1832 - died 1932), and three of his six older siblings: Roy, Eric and Myra. Most of his childhood was spent in the Wickepin area.

He started working on farms at the age of eight and had little education and therefore could not read or write. As a child he taught himself to read and write. By the age of 14 he was an experienced bushman, and at 18 a professional boxer. Badly injured at Gallipoli, he suffered severe problems which later were the cause of his death. In August 1915 during the First World War, in which two of his brothers, Joseph and Roy, were killed. While recuperating he met his future wife Evelyn Mary Gibson and they were married in Bunbury in August 1916. The Faceys lived in East Perth before returning to Wickepin six years later with their children, where they lived until 1934. His wife died in 1976. The couple had seven children — the eldest, Barney, was killed during the Second World War — and twenty-eight grandchildren.

Origins and publishing history[edit]

Facey had been making notes on his life since an early age, and had been entertaining family and friends for decades with his stories which, over the years, became more and more polished (at times at the cost of historical accuracy[1]). At the urging of his wife, he eventually wrote them up into a full manuscript, by hand, in a series of exercise books, working at the kitchen table. He then had the manuscript typed up and sent it to Fremantle Arts Centre Press, requesting that twenty copies be printed and bound for family members and friends. Facey's story was so remarkable, however, that it was immediately accepted for commercial publication. It appeared just nine months before his death on 11 February 1982, in his 88th year.

Achievements[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

Albert Facey and A Fortunate Life have been the recipients to a host of award nominations since the initial publication of the book but have only won two major book awards. It was first awarded the 1981 Banjo Award for Australian Literature and then the New South Wales Literacy Award also for that year.

The book was also named as Australia's number 10 on the ABC's My Favourite Book list.[2]

Commercial success[edit]

Other media[edit]

Mini series[edit]

A Fortunate Life
Directed by Henri Safran
Marcus Cole
Produced by Bill Hughes
executive
Ian Bradley
Written by Ken Kelso
Based on book by Albert Facey
Starring Dominic Sweeney
Nikki Coghill
Budget $6.3 million[3]
Country Australia
Language English
Original channel Nine Network
Original airing 9 March 1986
No. of episodes 4 x 2 hours

In 1986 it was turned into a Channel Nine mini series and became a national success. Several talented young actors started their careers in this series: Scott Bartle (plays Bert aged 5), Antony Richards (Bert aged 9), Benedict Sweeney (Bert aged 14) and Donovan Curyer Oshlack (plays Roy aged 14–16).

Shooting took place in Mount Tom Price, Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Bunbury, Mullewa, Fremantle and Victoria Park.[3]

The mini-series was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in March 2008. The DVD is compatible with all region codes.[4]

Preceded by
incumbent
New South Wales Literacy Award
1981
Succeeded by
Bliss by Peter Carey

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hirst, J. B. (2007). "Facey, Albert Barnett (Bert) (1894–1982)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. 
  2. ^ "My Favourite Book — The Top Ten". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2004. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p196
  4. ^ "Umbrella Entertainment". Retrieved 19 July 2013. 

External links[edit]