An Australian classic returns home

Fremantle Press is pleased to announce the publication of three new editions of A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey. First published by Fremantle Press (formerly Fremantle Arts Centre Press) in 1981, A Fortunate Life was licensed to Penguin in the same year. 

CEO Jane Fraser said now was the perfect time for the book to return to where it was first published.  ‘We have always felt connected to our first big success – right from when the manuscript arrived as a roughly typed manuscript, tied together with green and white waxed string,’ said Fraser.

But, as former publisher Ray Coffey has pointed out in the past, Fremantle Press almost didn’t survive the book’s success.

‘As a very small publisher we couldn’t cope with demand. By negotiating the licence when they did, Penguin helped Fremantle Press meet the high demand for books,’ said Fraser. She pointed out that the success of the book also led to the long-term distribution arrangement that continues to this day. ‘The outstanding sales and distribution support that Penguin Random House provide us, and many other independent Australian publishers, cannot be overestimated,’ said Fraser.

Fremantle Press Marketing and Communications Manager Claire Miller said each of the Fremantle Press publishers has redesigned the Australian classic in their own way – as a paperback for adults, an abridged version for younger readers and finally as a hardback Fremantle Press Treasures edition.

‘Working with three different designers, we feel the final covers are completely different to what’s come before while still being complementary to one another,’ said Miller. ‘We hope booksellers and readers will cherish them as much as we do.’


Over the years A Fortunate Life has generated a miniseries and a documentary as well as stage and radio productions. The book continues to rate as one of Australia’s favourite books of all time, coming in at number three, for instance, in the First Tuesday Book Club’s 2012 survey of  the Top 50 Australian Books.

The new paperback edition for adults and the abridged edition for younger readers will be available on 21 April 2018. The Fremantle Press Treasures edition is scheduled for publication in November, to commemorate the end of World War I.

Books discussed
A Fortunate Life
A Fortunate Life for Younger Readers
Fremantle Press Treasures: A Fortunate Life

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