Being asked to give a speech on the history of Fremantle Press recently reminded me that very soon I will have been at the Press for a decade. The past ten years have been rich with experience. Preparing for a talk I’ll be giving on the history of Fremantle Press at the Fremantle Heritage Festival later this month uncovered some long-forgotten, yet important achievements.

Back in the 1980s we published A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey which went on to win a number of awards and was made into a film, stage play and radio play. It was licensed to Penguin Group and sales in Australia exceed 750,000 copies. It is still read today and in 2012 made it into the ABC Book Show’s Ten Aussie Books to Read before You Die.

Milk and Honey by Elizabeth Jolley was reviewed by Peter Ackroyd in the New York Times Book Review in June 1986. In November, she appeared in the New York Times Book Review a second time and this time she was on the cover – albeit under the headline ‘Dotty and Disorderly’. Not much later the book rights were sold to Russia. The Cold War was not even over.

1983 is credited as the year Fremantle Press launched its Indigenous program with the publication of Gularabulu by Paddy Roe with Stephen Muecke. That’s well over 30 years ago.

After a long association with Fremantle Press and the publication of his much loved autobiographical trilogy Stories from Suburban Road, T.A.G. Hungerford was awarded the Patrick White Award for Literature in 2002.

No doubt the great things our authors are doing today will one day be ‘ancient’ history too, but thanks to modern technology they won’t be buried in paper archives – we celebrate all our achievements in our ‘News’ archive online.

I will be appearing at Fremantle Studies Day at the Fremantle History Society at 1.30 pm on Sunday 22 October, where I will talk about the history of Fremantle Press – from its origins to the achievements of today. Papers will also be delivered by Fremantle Arts Centre and Fremantle Symphony Orchestra, while Professor Bob Reece will talk about the history of 19th century cultural organisations in Fremantle. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members and include afternoon tea. RSVP essential: by Thursday 19 October 2017

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