Orphans of the Queen

Lothian, 2004

Hilly Lyon and her little brother Egg, together with other children from their English orphanage, are shipped to Australia at the end of 1952 as part of the British child migrant scheme. Instead of getting the sunshine and good homes they are expecting, Hilly and Egg are separated and sent to separate orphanages.

Life in the orphanage is harsh and often cruel for Hilly, and when the first Royal Tour of Australia is announced she concocts a daring plan to meet Her Majesty and enlist her help in finding Egg.

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Prizes and Awards:

  • Shortlisted, Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Best Children's Book
  • Shortlisted, NSW Premier's Literary Awards


A review of Orphans of the Queen
by Gleebooks

In the early 1950s, hordes of young English orphans, succumbing to the promise of families and an unstinting, healthy life, participated in a mass migration to Australia. For Hilly and her younger brother Egg it was a chance for happiness, but this was threatened when they were separated in WA, Egg disappearing with other boys while Hilly eventually disembarked in SA and was thrust into the unimagined heartlessness of Adelaide orphanage life. For Hilly, the strangeness of a 'foreign' English language and the cruelty, hypocrisy and exploitation she suffered were relieved only by her friendship with shipmate Reen, Meggie - a chirpy Australian girl, and the hope of a reunion with Egg. Surely Hilly's appeal to the greater power of the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II will enable her to achieve her wish, especially when the Queen actually visits Adelaide? I was seething with impotent fury at the injustice and helplessness experienced by these children, and barracking for dauntless Hilly all the way. Combining true accounts with her own distinctively engaging narration, award-winner Starke has triumphed again!

A review of Orphans of the Queen
by Sophie, age 12, Canberra
From goldcreek.act.edu.au

The story starts off in 20th century London. A small group of kids from one of the many homes for children in London are offered free passage to Australia as migrants. One of these kids is Hilly Lyon and her little brother Egg (short for Gregory). A month and a bit later and they are landing in the Western Australian port of Fremantle. To Hilly's horror she finds herself separated from her beloved brother and sent to another home instead of the new parents promised by the officials back in London. What follows is a sad tale of harsh nuns and cruel rules. Hilly is desperate to find her brother and attempts to enlist the help of the Queen. Orphans of the Queen is intended for older readers (12 years and up). It is also a good read for adults. According to the author not much is totally invented and nothing is exaggerated, making Orphans of the Queen a cruel reality of the life of the orphaned children put into homes run by nuns. The choice of topic was smart because people start reading it and feel compelled to finish the book to find out the end result. The story line is brilliant, everything in an order that makes it a fantastic read. It has small illustrations at the start of every chapter. I loved this book. It is a wonderful book about our past history and everyone should read it.

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