Children of Coal: A Migrant’s Story

Judith White
Available in paperback, RRP $25. e-book, RRP $8.99. Order from your local bookshop or from Booktopia or Amazon.

Judith White born in England has worked as an editor, journalist and arts manager. She has degrees Oxford University n modern history And Latin American studies. She movedto Australia in 1986 and worked as reviews editor at theSun-Herald and was for 10 years Executive Director of the Art Gallery Society of NSW. She blogs on

Judith White’s memoir is about growing up in the North of England, home of the Industrial Revolution, when it still ran on coal. It’s the story of the remarkable people she comes from. They’re all here: working-class grandparents who struggled, with grim Northern humour, through two world wars and the Depression. A great-aunt who became housekeeper to royalty. A mother who clawed her way out of poverty to Oxford and a new life, only to have it snatched from her by war. A hero of the French Resistance. An uncle who survived the Thai-Burma railway, another who came home an alcoholic. An aunt who travelled the world on oil tankers. A father committed to the Manchester traditions of science and civil rights.

Children of Coal is also the story of White’s life in left-wing politics: of skirmishes with British intelligence, and the class warfare that came to a head when the Thatcher government set out to crush the coal miners’ union. After that she came away to Australia, and learned from First Nations peoples, writers and artists, what a university education had never taught her about the devastating impact of colonialism. And she came to understand the pain inflicted on lives on both sides of the world by an empire built on coal, and why we need the full truth about our shared history.

Historian Humphrey McQueen writes: “Started at 6 o’clock and only put it down at 8 to put the potatoes on. Totally engaged in the extended families, their struggles and humour. Can’t wait to get back to it.”

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