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- Performing Arts, C
Authors C Rhona Cameron ➝ Eric Clapton ➝ Sharyn Crystal ➝ Ray Charles ➝ Marcus Clarke ➝ Li Cunxin ➝ Pandora Christie ➝ Keyshia Cole ➝ Back to Top
- The Sally Lockhart Mysteries
Television Shows The Sally Lockhart Mysteries 2006 The Sally Lockhart Mysteries (2006) is an adaptation of books written by Care Experienced Writer Philip Pullman. In the first episode, The Ruby in the Smoke, recently orphaned Sally (Billie Piper) is tired of living with her aunt. She moves in with new friends who help her discover why a Mrs Holland (Julie Waters) is intent on killing her. In the second episode, Sally has become a successful financial consultant. When she finds out a client has been cheated by wealthy a industrialist, she sets out to right the wrong. External Website
- The wisdom of deep listening: Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann and Fleur Magick Dennis
Radio & Podcast The wisdom of deep listening: Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann and Fleur Magick Dennis Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann 2021 Aboriginal Australia artist, activist and educator, Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann (b. 1950), was in kinship care as a child. She was born in the bush near Daly River, a small town in the Northern Territory. When she was 5 years of age, Miriam was given over to relatives to be cared for, her Aunt Nellie and her Uncle Attawoomba Joe. Attawoomba Joe was a police tracker of some note, and Miriam moved between police stations with him and Nellie. Miriam learned much from her uncle about Aboriginal culture, while also being educated formally in government schools. In 1975, Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann because the Northern Territory's first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher. In this podcast, she talks about 'deep listening' the word for which is dadirri in Ngan'gikurunggurra, a Northern Territory language. External Website
- Historical Perspectives on the Stigma of Children in Care.
By Dr. Annie Skinner During the latter decades of the nineteenth-century, poor families faced with crises due to poverty, ill-health or misfortune were dependent on a combination of state and voluntary agencies for help. The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act restricted state benefits and assessed claimants on a deserving or undeserving basis, forcing people into the workhouse. Therefore, for some parents in dire situations the only option other than the stigmatizing experience of the workhouse, was requesting admission for their child to a child care charitable organisation like the Waifs and Strays Society, (WSS), now The Children’s Society, Dr Banardos or Dr Stephen’s Homes, now Action for Children, who provided residential child care, all established at the end of the 1870s and beginning of the 1880s. A new agency, the Charity Organisation Society, (COS), who had shared aims with the Government and the harsh poor law, was also established. COS members were encouraged to participate in health and welfare organisations to influence policy and practice. The COS, credited as being the first social workers, made home visits to assess claimants in line with the COS policy, ensuring claimants were genuine, to ascertain the causes of poverty and ill- health before giving help. Whilst working on a project investigating how and why children came into care in the nineteenth century I was struck with the resonance with today. Over the last two decades attitudes towards children in care have come under the spotlight. Stigma was an integral component of the 1834 New Poor Law Amendment Act. Victorian philanthropists contributed to this stigma by blaming parents. Unfortunately, there are still parallels to be drawn between attitudes expressed in the nineteenth century and those in the twenty-first century. Not only because of attitudes towards welfare but also because of attitudes towards vulnerable families who still seem to be seen as second-class citizens. Whilst aspects of stigma are well documented in some areas such as mental health, education, race, and disability, in general terms the history of the stigma of children in care and its relevance today is under-explored. This can be extended to discriminated children and families on the margins of society. Stigma is an attitude or belief, and discrimination is the outcome by others holding those attitudes or beliefs. However, being disadvantaged can lead to social exclusion and subsequently stigmatization. This post looks at how the stigma of care evolved during the nineteenth century and how this has remained. From my research on the experiences of children in care in the nineteenth century I suggest there are three types of stigma particularly pertinent to these children and families on the margins of society, then and today. Firstly, Structural Stigma relates to institutional policies based on stigmatizing attitudes. Secondly, Public Stigma reflects the predominant opinions society has about people with a certain characteristic. Negative stereotypes of such people or groups are often portrayed in the media with limited information, which can reinforce and influence adverse public perceptions. And thirdly, Associative Stigma which focusses on people with connections to someone with a characteristic regarded as unfavourable. In this instance it is related to society’s view of parents which is inherited by the child. People in dire straits resorting to charity or the Poor Law were considered improvident regardless of their circumstances, as they had not taken precautions to avoid such a situation. Incorporated into child welfare legislation and within the voluntary charitable movements, such as the COS, were expectations of changed behavior, from either child or adult, as a result of intervention. In practice, if considered deserving a claimant was expected to make lifestyle changes in line with COS philosophy. Failure to do so resulted in the withdrawal of COS help and the family were left with limited options to cope and a fear of admission to the workhouse. Middle-class philanthropists with little understanding of working-class life attributed their values to their own experiences and expectations of childhood and family life. Amongst families who requested COS help were lone parents, often recently bereaved. Widowed fathers with young children needed childcare to continue in employment; and widowed mothers usually without skills, had to find employment which was usually low paid. Lone mothers found themselves in impossible conditions with children to support and little employment opportunities. Regular employment was considered preferable to voluntarily relinquishing a child to care by the authorities, as institutions considered parents unable to work and look after their children were stigmatised as ‘failing as a parent’. For this reason some widowed fathers had left their children in the care of local women as they had to work away from home, which were not always suitable. When arrangements broke down for poor families the authorities had the power to commit children to care. Several Industrial Schools Acts were introduced from 1857 onwards, each giving increasing power to the state. Children, as young as two or three, appeared in court and were charged: of being in the company of prostitutes, being neglected or abused, not having proper guardianship, larceny, stealing, or truanting, being out of control or committing an offence. The defendant, the child, did not have legal representation; and parents did not usually have legal representation either. Court Orders were issued, the child was committed to care in an industrial school, until they were 16 years of age and parental rights were removed. The press were allowed to report the cases and gave the children’s details, and members of the public were able to attend the hearing. In 1883, the WSS established several industrial schools, and one of their major concerns was to provide accommodation for girls at risk of immorality. This morality was defined by the establishment and created stigmatization of lone mothers and illegitimacy. Children were removed from their families, criminalised and incarcerated. The state held the firm view that most parents’ lifestyles were responsible for their children’s situation and removal avoided children repeating their parents’ behaviour. Case notes of children committed to the WSS industrial schools reveal how children came to be committed. Many were stealing or begging or destitute, others were living in extreme poverty, or had been abandoned by their parents, or neglected. In these circumstances, children were so desperate for food and money and starving like James who was aged seven who was found under a hedge semi-naked in ‘a frightfully neglected condition’. There were occasions when children were sent out to beg or steal by their parents. Children were blamed, punished, and stigmatised for their parents’ behaviour. Working parents had problems supervising their children during working hours, as was the case in Lena’s situation. Lena’s widowed mother worked as a nurse and whilst she was at work her twelve-year-old daughter was getting into mischief. Nine-year-old Billy’s father chained his son to the bedstead when he went to work as he constantly went wandering. One mother locked her children in a room whilst she was working. Poverty, lack of employment opportunities and affordable housing made it impossible to change their circumstances. Mary’s lone mother tried unsuccessfully to earn a living but was so poor she was frequently admitted to the workhouse. After she left the workhouse, she was only able to afford a place in a common lodging house, considered inappropriate by the authorities as they were crowded, unhealthy houses, accommodating insalubrious characters, were notorious places for iniquity, but for poor people living in lodging houses was better than living in the workhouse. After failing to find alternative accommodation to heed the police warning not to let her children live in houses with ‘loose women’ who lived in these houses Mary was removed from her mother. These examples show the minimal choices available for poor parents and the resulting stigmatization for being poor. Derogatory descriptions of the children with racial undertones were used like ‘Street Arabs’, ‘English Kafirs’, or they were described as ‘human vermin’ or savages. Important influential people condoned and perpetuated these attitudes. Language used by the authorities and charitable organisations emerged reinforcing stereotypes of poor children and their parents. This extract by Dr Barnardo in the organisation’s journal represents some of the views held by the authorities: The rapid spread of (socialist and nihilist) principles that would subvert orderly government and banish the Bible from the world is not a sign of the times to regard with composure…Every boy rescued from the gutter is one dangerous man the less; and similarly the publication of Child of the English Savage, co-authored by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and Benjamin Waugh who founded the NSPCC. Miss Rye, an influential woman in child emigration described a child as such in a letter to the WSS: ‘It would be both cruel and wrong to send the girl abroad as she is rather more than an animal than any other girl I have ever had to deal with and is also not quite right in the mind’ is an example of the derogatory language used by those working with children. Press reports covering cases from committal hearings used headlines such as ‘A BROTHEL -UNNATURAL MOTHER’, and ‘SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A MARRIED WOMAN’. and reported magistrate’s derogatory comments too. The establishment’s narrative assumes that children will repeat parental behaviour; and in parallel legitimizes the use of derogatory language for marginalized parents and children. Fast forward to the end of the Poor Law, the end of the Second World War to the inception of the welfare state introduced in 1948. During this transition, some former staff in health and welfare departments remained in post as practitioners or administrators. Regardless of the new welfare state philosophy and policy, an immediate change of attitudes towards children in care and families needing help would have been challenging. Inherited attitudes associated with the deserving and underserving poor had dominated welfare provision for over 120 years. But by the late 1960s and 1970s shifts towards changing attitudes and practice were emerging. Although child care legislation still retained some of the nineteenth century punitive clauses towards children until the implementation of the Children Act in 1989. Following budget cuts in the mid 1970s restrictions were made in public sector services including housing, education, and welfare. The gaps between rich and poor widened as politicians cut in services. In the 1980s there was a shift in attitudes towards lone parents that was reminiscent of those in the nineteenth century towards illegitimacy and effectively determining between the deserving and undeserving. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher suggested that ‘young women were getting pregnant to jump the housing queue’. This was a common perception during the time, that reinforced societal beliefs that lone mothers were of a bad character. And in 1995 our future prime minister Boris Johnson wrote in the Spectator ‘Single mothers were raising a generation of ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children.’ The tone of this statement sounds similar to a comment in five-year-old John’s case notes in 1889: ‘Illegitimate child ‘found begging and there is reason to think the boy’s mother belongs to the class of unfortunates and certainly he was living amongst immoral surroundings.’ Negative attitudes towards young mothers continued into adult life with expectations young care experienced mothers would repeat the life cycle and were stigmatised with ‘systematic and often relentless scrutiny and surveillance’, strongly suggesting the association of parental behaviour. Care leavers reflect on how they have been stigmatised as children, but social worker and other associated meetings marked them out as different. Just like children in the nineteenth century comments were made about their past and assumptions made about their care history. One care leaver was asked during an interview ‘what had they done to get put into care?’ Another care leaver working in social care was told people would think she was unable to be unbiased in her work due to her care experience. At the beginning of the 21st century, child sexual exploitation across the country was making headlines in many cities. Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) are held when a child dies or is seriously harmed through abuse or neglect, to identify ways organisations and local professionals can improve ways of safeguarding children. Several high-profile Serious Case Reviews held on Child Sexual Exploitation unpicked the failings of local authorities. Their conclusions determine the incompetent and uncaring political and professional leadership as well as a desire to restrict funding for looked after children. Reports from Serious Case Reviews suggest that children were making lifestyle choices to become prostitutes and drug addicts. Children were effectively blamed for their situation. Serious Case Reviews exposed negative attitudes towards expenditure for children in care and collective failures of political and officer leadership. At the forefront of institutional stigma is the child in care and the care leaver. The child, dependent on the corporate parent for their upbringing, is subjected to determined budgets and protocol. Whilst social workers may want to offer more help in attempts for children to remain at home, or negotiate for improved housing, educational needs, or more income, the family may not be eligible for these services. This exemplifies how structural stigma creates an unequal system that leads to disadvantage and often public stigmatisation. When I worked as a social worker from the mid 1970s until the early 1990s, I initially worked in an environment that was able to provide different forms of help on a preventive basis for struggling families. Gradually this changed as did policy and practice. There was less available help in preventive care. Eligibility criteria for help reached a higher threshold and there was pressure to close cases. This experience as a social worker informed my research and made me want to look at care in the nineteenth century from a child centred lens. Today one of the frontline scandals about children in care concerns unregulated residential placements. Between 2018-19 there were 660 (5%) looked after children placed in independent or in semi-independent living accommodation who were under the age of 16 when their placement started. Children placed in these properties have described the difficulties of having to reside with drug dealers, trying to study, financial problems, threats of violence, fear, and other aspects of being alone trying to negotiate independent living without support. These conditions for children to live in are unacceptable and paradoxically if a parent was responsible for allowing their child to live in these circumstances there would be possible grounds for removal. Yet the corporate parent sanctioned this arrangement. It is now illegal. We now know that 29 care leavers accommodated in unregulated accommodation have tragically died in the last few years. On June 14 (2023) Care leavers presented a petition to Downing Street requesting that being in care be determined as a protected characteristic, so it becomes the law to consider the discrimination faced by those people when making new policies. The first step was convincing the Care Review in England to adopt the recommendation to give it credibility and get it on the agenda for Government. Terry Galloway, one of the Experts by Experience, is now travelling around the UK getting councils to adopt the motion and slowly building momentum. Surely the fact this had to be raised by care leavers themselves, demonstrates the lack of understanding and stigmatisation of care leavers today. Dr. Annie Skinner is a social historian based at Oxford Brookes University where she completed her PhD in History. Before moving into historical research she worked as a social worker with children and families and taught on the social work course. Her published work has focused on voluntary organisations’ contribution to health and social care in the nineteenth century. Annie Skinner’s research concentrates on finding the hidden, unheard and often silent voices behind these social histories. Behind Closed Doors: Hidden Histories of Children Committed to Care During the late Nineteenth Century(1882-1899) (Oxford, Peter Lang 2021).  Colton, M, Drakeford, M, Roberts, S, Scholte, E, Casas, F and Williams, M, ‘Social workers, parents and stigma’, Child and Family Social Work, 2 (1997) 247-257.  For more details on the lives of children committed to care, see Annie Skinner, Behind Closed Doors: Hidden Histories of Children Committed to Care During the late Nineteenth Century (1882-1899) (Oxford, Peter Lang 2021).  ‘The Dangerous Classes,’ Night and Day (1879) Dr Barnardos’ magazine.  Deborah Rutman, Susan Strega, Marilyn Callahan, Lena Dominelli, ‘Undeserving’ mothers? Practitioners’ experiences working with young mothers in/from care, Child and Family Social Work, 7/3, (2002) https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2206.2002.00244.x  See Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997-2013, Alexis Jay, 21 August 2014, page 1; The Independent, 27 August 2014, page 6; Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire, 26 February 2015, page 44.  Carolyne Willow, ‘Serious Harms in Care Report to Remain Unpublished’, Article 39, 9 June 2022. Article 39 is a charity Fighting for Children’s Rights in Institutional Settings.
- Cuckoo in the Nest by Fran Hill
Review by Carol Sampson Fran Hill’s experiences in foster care have often influenced her writing. Cuckoo in the Nest arose from her reflecting not only on her own circumstances but also on the impact she had on the families who opened up their home to her. The story begins with 14 year old Jackie Chadwick starting what is supposed to be a short term stay with the Wall family. Bridget and Nick are new to fostering and it is also Jackie’s first time in foster care. After Jackie’s mother died of cancer her father, struggling to cope with the loss of his wife and the responsibility of raising Jackie, turned to alcohol for solace. Jackie, as well as trying to maintain her grades at school, has become housekeeper and carer for her drunken father who, on occasion, has caused her physical harm. Despite their ups and downs they rub along okay until teachers at school notice that Jackie is sometimes a little battered and bruised. They feel obligated to report to Social Services, resulting in Jackie being placed in temporary foster care. Bridget and Nick make a huge effort to welcome Jackie, sometimes to the detriment of the relationship with their daughter Amanda. The same age as Jackie, Amanda bypasses the opportunity to gain a friend and ally and instead is rude and resentful of Jackie’s intrusion into their home. The Walls initially appear to be the perfect family to provide Jackie with the stability she has been denied but it soon becomes apparent that the family have issues that predate Jackie’s appearance. Jackie, with a maturity beyond her years, can see the different power struggles and discontent within her new foster family more easily than they see it themselves and it sometimes feels as though she is the grown-up in the family. Jackie is a delightful character. She is intelligent, kind and compassionate and, although Amanda is determined to make Jackie’s life difficult, Jackie has empathy for her and often silently wills Bridget to think before she speaks to Amanda about issues she knows will upset her. Although Jackie copes well it is clear she does not always find the adjustment to being in foster care easy and she uses her love of writing poetry to express her inner conflicts and turmoil. She is very witty and uses her sense of humour to cope with difficult or embarrassing situations, bringing a light-hearted tone to the story. Fran Hill has focussed not just on the challenges faced by Jackie, catapulted into a foster home and trying to make the best of the situation she finds herself in, but also on the issues that arise for the Halls as they try to balance their family’s dynamics. Hill has very cleverly shown both sides of the experience through Jackie’s empathetic nature. There is an interesting comment from Bridget after talking on the telephone with her friend Gloria - also a foster parent. She says to Jackie: “They have two of their own children and now a foster son. They said to us, try it. It could be the making of us. And, now, here you are!” This raises the question as to what motivated the Halls to decide on fostering. Were they, with their own personal troubles, hoping to restore their own family unit? Or perhaps to prove to themselves that they are good parents, despite their disintegrating relationship with Amanda. Cuckoo in the Nest is a wonderful read, full of passion and humour. Fran Hill clearly understands people and the flaws underlying family life. It is a very entertaining story which also offers insight into the lives of those involved in the foster care system.
- The Bone People
Dr Dee Michell reflects on The Bone People by Keri Hulme. In 1965, Irish writer John McGahern’s novel, The Dark, was banned in Ireland because of its “indecent or obscene” content. The content was a detailed account of child abuse—physical, verbal, sexual—by the child’s father, with the suggestion that a priest might also be sexually abusing the boy. Twenty years later, Keri Hulme’s debut novel, The Bone People—which has the physical assault of a small boy, a child in foster care, at its centre—won the 1985 Booker Prize. Hulme was the first New Zealander to win the Booker, but the win was “all too disturbing for many, including some of that year’s other judges” (Shaffi). While judges Marina Warner and JW Lambert, along with St John Stevas, supported The Bone People, Nina Bawden opposed the book because of its violence, as did Joanna Lumley… ‘This is over-my-dead-body stuff for me,’ wrote Lumley…in a letter to her fellow Booker Prize judges… ‘I can’t bring myself to approve any of it; its poetry (to me) is whining, and its subject matter finally indefensible. ‘We can’t have a book on childbattering, no matter how lyrically observed, carrying off the gold’ (Shaffi). The Bone People is a long and difficult read—because of the violence—but also strangely compelling because it is beautifully written; it is a story “lyrically observed”. Simon, a mute boy of about 6 or 7 years of age, lives with his foster father, Joe Gillayley. He is clearly a traumatised child—the survivor of a shipwreck and perhaps of early abuse—whose behaviour is puzzling for many in the community, including his teachers and his foster father; the community see him as having “a touchpaper temper… Also he specialises in sneakthievery and petty vandalism”. Plus, “… he’s not all there. Emotionally disturbed or something” (Hulme, 42). Simon—of apparently Irish heritage—disappears so often he wears a pendant with his name and address: 1 PACIFIC STREET WHANGAROA PHONE 633Z COLLECT SIMON GILLAYLEY CANNOT SPEAK (Hulme, 21) One day Simon (also known as Sim, Haimona and Himi) wanders, breaks into really, the home of local artist, Kerewin. Kerewin initially sees Simon as “… The vandal, the vagabond, the wayward urchin, the scarecrow child…” (Hulme 45). Kere’s aware she’s not been entirely considerate of Simon during his ‘visit’ but the boy reports to his father that she’s been “kind and patient” even though she was taken aback by his sudden presence. “That was impressive” says Joe, because generally he’s either treated as an idiot or deaf as well as mute…” (Hulme 60) Kerewin Holmes (obviously Keri Hulme) is a biracial woman who identifies with Maori culture. Kerewin wasn’t abused as a child but we never find out why she was pushed out of her family. Her estrangement from family and sense of alienation from the broader community is externalised by the home she has built, a multi-story spiral tower on the edge of the beach and at the fringe of the community, where she lives self-sufficiently—for the most part. Joe is Maori and was in kinship care; he was given to his grandmother when he was 3 years old. The extent of harsh treatment is not clear, but Joe admits his grandfather was “hard on me” and his grandmother “wasn’t one for letting kids take it easy” (Hulme 277). Joe once had dreams of being a teacher but is now a widower working in a factory. He’s worked steadily and owns his home freehold. Simon and Joe offer Kere a sense of family. The 3 even go on a fishing holiday together during which Kere confronts Joe about his behaviour; she has recently discovered that Joe whips Simon mercilessly. Kere had earlier become aware that Joe is ‘strict’ but decided it wasn’t her business, not until she sees the weals and gashes on the boy’s body. Then she hesitates: What the hell do I do now? O, I know what I’m supposed to do. Ring up Child Welfare and report the bloody mess [Simon] is in. “Excuse me, I know a small child who’s getting bashed…it looks like he’s been thrashed with a whip (but I hope to God no).” I can just hear it. “You’ve known him how many weeks and you never suspected he was getting badly treated!” “Uh, well, he’s very good at hiding his pain.” I can just hear it. She is furious with herself, not only because she must have hurt him. Joe, you good kind patient sweetnatured gentlefingered everloving BASTARD But I knew all along, herr Gott, Something always felt wrong. No, I didn’t. I had suspicions when he was here with his face battered. But he never said it was Joe, and Joe didn’t admit it was him. I’ve seen him slapped. Hell, everyone slaps kids (Hulme 180-181, emphasis in the original). Joe commits to henceforth only hitting Simon with Kere’s express permission. It’s after the holiday that Kere hears about Joe’s family’s complicity in Simon being regularly beaten. Kere is at the pub and being quizzed by a member of Joe’s family concerned about Simon’s wellbeing: “You know Kere, the number of times we have, Piri has, fixed up poor Himi…he used to come round with terrible weals on him, didn’t he Piri? Terrible cuts, and we couldn’t say anything to Ma, because she’d get too upset. And we couldn’t do anything, because you feel sorry for Joe being alone and all…but that poor kid! God sometimes he could hardly walk… (Hulme 347). Then comes the day when Simon visits a problematic local character, only to find he is dead. Understandably shocked and horrified by the death, and terrified he’ll be blamed it, Simon goes to Kere’s but she is too preoccupied to find out what is bothering Simon. Simon trashes a treasured guitar, gets sent home, and breaks the windows of all the houses on his way there. In a later phone conversation, Kerewin berates Simon: Her voice is strange. It rasps; it grates; it abrades. She can’t touch him physically so she is beating him with her voice. What she says drums through his head, resounding in waves as though his head were hollow, and the words bound back from one side to smash against the other (Hulme 373-374). Kerewin then permits Joe to beat Simon who—unusually—retaliates and stabs Joe with broken glass. Both end up in hospital. Simon is in a coma. The Bone People was written over something like 12 years (some sources say 20) and was then rejected by every major publisher in New Zealand. It was accepted by “a tiny feminist press in New Zealand led by three women…” (Jordison). The initial print run was 2,000 copies. When they sold out and so did the next 2,000, Spiral approached Hodder and Stoughton in New Zealand, who shifted another 20,000 and brought it to the attention of the Booker judges (Jordison). Generally, critics are divided. Some are thrilled by her work ; others think the way Hulme takes up the issue of colonisation “breaks down too easily into bad writing and spiritual nonsense” (Haq). Several commentators go so far as to suggest Hulme won the prize because the judges “were not a little influenced by the story of Keri Hulme’s heroic efforts to write and publish her novel” (Kakutani). As far as I know, the story of Simon is fictional, coming to Hulme in a dream. Yet Hulme demonstrates an awareness of trauma and the oft unwitting repetition of child abuse by those, like Joe, who haven’t reckoned with the emotional legacy of their own childhood. By the time the tumult had died down around Keri Hulme’s Booker Prize win, a new trend in publishing was emerging, that of people telling their stories of being, often, brutalised by parents and guardians when they were children. In the vanguard of this trend is Pulitzer Prize winning American historian, Richard Rhodes’ A Hole in the World: An American Boyhood (1990) in which he speaks of enduring 2 years of exploitation and violence by his stepmother. Keri Hulme’s fictional story, then, is fact for all too many people around the world. As indeed it was for John McGahern. References: Wahid Haq (2014) Critical response on The Bone People by Keri Hulme. Academia.edu. Sam Jordison (2009) Booker club: The Bone People by Keri Hulme. The Guardian, 20 November 2009. Kakutani, Michiko (1985) Books of The Times. The New York Times, 13 November 1985. Theresa Schiavone (2016) Child Abuse in American Storytelling: Masterful storytellers can make it possible to speak not only of child abuse, but of the abuse of ‘our children’. ChildAbuse & Neglect, 54, 78-85. Sarah Shaffi (2022) How Keri Hulme’s The Bone People changed the way we read now. The Booker Prizes, https://thebookerprizes.com/