No. 12 – Most Popular Aussie Novels of All Time
by Clayton Wehner - December 13th, 2010
At #12 – A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
28.3% of all respondents have read this book
Synopsis for A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
A Fortunate Life is an autobiographical novel written by Albert Facey and was written in 1981 (nine months before his death) and tells the complete story of his life. 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.
About A.B. Facey (Books by A.B. Facey)
Albert Barnett Facey (31 August 1894 – February 1982) was an Australian writer, whose main work was his autobiography A Fortunate Life, now considered a classic in Australian literature.
He was born in Maidstone, Victoria, the son of Joseph Facey and Mary Ann (née Carr). 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 with his grandmother and three of his six older siblings. His childhood in Western Australia was spent in Wickepin, Pingelly, and at Cave Rock, near Popanyinning, which he writes about in Chapter 2, titled Cave Rock, of A Fortunate Life.
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.
On 4 January 1915, immediately after the outbreak of the First World War, Facey joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). As an infantryman with the 11th Battalion, he travelled to Egypt and fought during Gallipoli Campaign. Two of his brothers, Roy and Joseph, were killed during the campaign and Albert Facey was wounded at least twice. In August 1915, he was evacuated due to “heart trouble” (although the complaint was discovered many years later to have been a ruptured spleen) and invalided to Australia. While recuperating, Facey met Evelyn Mary Gibson,whom he married at Bunbury in August 1916. The couple had six children.
The Faceys lived in East Perth before returning to Wickepin six years later with their children, where they lived until 1934. Their eldest son, also named Albert Barnett Facey and known as Barney, joined the Second AIF during the Second World War and served with the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion during the Battle of Singapore, during which he was killed from a roadside bomb.
In later years, Facey began making notes on his life and, at the urging of his wife and children, eventually had the notes printed into a book. It was published just nine months before his death in February 1982.
His home in Wickepin is a tourist attraction today, while a government building on Forrest Place in the state capital, Perth, is named in his honour and is home to Perth’s main travel bureau and visitor centre. A public library in Mundaring, a street in Maidstone and a hotel in Narrogin also bear his name. The manuscripts of A Fortunate Life are housed in the Scholars’ Centre in the University of Western Australia Library.
The List so far…
#19 – My Place by Sally Morgan
#22 – Dirt Music by Tim Winton
#23 – Breath by Tim Winton