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‘I am nearly heartbroken about him’: stories of Australian mothers' separation from their ‘Chinese’ children


Bagnall, K, I am nearly heartbroken about him': stories of Australian mothers' separation from their Chinese' children, History Australia, 1, (1) pp. 30-40. ISSN 1449-0854 (2003) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2003 the author

DOI: doi:10.1080/14490854.2003.11828254


In 1911, Frances Storey of Paddington wrote to the Prime Minister to plead for his assistance in bringing her son Charles back to Australia. Charles had been living in China for the previous two years with relatives of his father, and now her letters to him were being returned unopened. In 1913, Beatrice Denham of Carlton met with the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs to see whether he could provide help in securing the return of her two children, Alice and Eric. They were living with her late husband's first wife in a village inland from Hong Kong, but she wanted them to come back ‘home’ to Melbourne. Both Beatrice and Frances, suffering the pain of separation from their children, turned to government authorities for help. Using records from the National Archives of Australia, this paper will follow their attempts to be reunited with their children, as they struggled with the difficulties of their cross-cultural lives. Their stories, and others like them, demonstrate that Chinese-Australian intermarriage demanded a complex negotiation between two very different ideas of family.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Chinese-Australian history, women's history, history of the family
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Bagnall, K (Dr Kate Bagnall)
ID Code:139693
Year Published:2003
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2020-06-26
Last Modified:2020-08-19

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