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Did My Mum Need to Die? review of Sarah Ferguson’s On Mother

May 8, 2018

This true story is a heart-wrenching and deeply personal reflection by Sarah Ferguson on the death of her mother and its aftermath. Ferguson, one of Australia’s most renowned and hard-hitting investigative journalists, has deliberately kept her personal life at an arm’s length from her career – until now.

The Four Corners’ reporter and presenter was prompted to write her pocket-sized memoir, On Mother, after the sudden and inexplicable death of her mother in England. The tragic news spurs the veteran journalist to fly from her home in Melbourne to London – and to the hospital where doctors had treated her mother. Upon arrival, Ferguson seeks answers to the tragedy and is disturbed by the uncertainty and unanswered questions surrounding her mother’s death.

What unfolds is a true crime-edged deliberation of the morality and law governing the medical profession’s responsibility to its patients, as it is revealed that Marjorie Ferguson’s death may have been avoided if certain precautions had been taken by the hospital staff.

While Ferguson’s mission to discover the truth of her mother’s death deals in facts as one would expect from a multi-Walkley Award winner, it is the emotional pulse of her memoir and the human aspect of coming to terms with unexpected tragedy that resonates. The writing in On Mother is gentle, flowing and poetic as Ferguson takes us back into her mother’s life and probes some of the mysteries of her family history. In that sense, this memoir is also a love letter, an homage to a friend and a surprisingly intimate, if public, way of saying goodbye.

About the author

Sarah Ferguson is an award-winning investigative journalist at the ABC. She wrote The Killing Season Uncut with Patricia Drum in 2016.

Purchase a copy of On Mother


  1. Rose King

    After experiencing a similar tragedy Nd hospital gross negligence case with my 91 yr old Father in Sept last yr, I am keen to read this book. It no doubt will stir up the emotions but the anger I still feel is very raw anyway.

  2. Diana Yallop

    Also interested in Sarahs book like Rose but fortunately my mother still alive. The care of patients with cognitive impairment & delirium (who cannot self report incidents)is a serious issue not being adequately addressed. I obtained my mothers hospital records through FIO and found cover ups, inadequate incident reports which led to detailed complaint and meeting with Hospital CEO.

  3. Jeannette

    Brought me to tears.

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