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Girl 43

The graffiti on the holding room wall says it all: ‘Gunyah is hell on earth’. And Ellen’s about to find out why. Ellen was never quite the daughter her mother wanted. Patent leather shoes and frilly dresses just weren’t her thing and, at age fourteen, she’s ready to leave school and find her own way. For Ellen, like so many other teenagers at the end of the Sixties, life is full of possibilities. Surely there’s nothing wrong with going where she wants and hanging out with Robbie? But when the police turn up, Ellen is deemed to be in ‘moral danger’ and is sentenced to the Gunyah Training School for Girls. Suddenly, she’s no longer Ellen, she’s Girl 43, and she has to follow the rules, work hard and – most importantly – stay quiet. When it’s discovered that she’s pregnant, there’s no respite from the staff. Telling her she isn’t capable of bringing up a child, they twist the truth to make her cooperate. But however hard they try, they can’t destroy the connection between a mother and her child . . . or can they?


24 June, 2014


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