Anthony Hill Books


Have you ever read The Burnt Stick or Captain Cook’s Apprentice? Good news! Author Anthony Hill will be coming back to the Markets on 21 April for Portobello Road on Easter Sunday. Anthony is an award-winning author who has written 18 books spanning children’s books and historical novels that tell the stories of people from the two World Wars.

Anthony’s first book was called The Bunburyists. It was an autobiography about his experience moving away from Canberra in 1977 and into Yass to open an antique shop. It also includes several short stories that cover various aspects of life. The inclusion of short stories helped his transition to write more fiction.

The inspiration to write historical novels partly came from Anthony’s background as a journalist. In the early 90’s, he worked for Governor-General Bill Hayden as a speechwriter. He travelled with him to Gallipoli in 1995 for the 80th anniversary of the Landing. “I thought, I’d like to find the stories and if there’s something new about the Gallipoli Landing, the ANZAC, and [to see] what’s war really like,” says Anthony.


“As a novelist, you want to get into people’s minds and what makes them tick”


Two years later, Anthony came across the story of Jim Martin, the youngest ANZAC. At the age of 14, Jim enlisted as a soldier and traveled to Gallipoli. The book, Soldier Boy, was Anthony’s first historical novel and it easily became a runaway success. It soon led to a companion book called “Young Digger” which told the story of Henri, a little French war orphan who was adopted as a mascot by Australian airmen.

Being a novelist inspired Anthony to investigate deeper into each story. “As a novelist, you want to get into people’s minds and what makes them tick,” says Anthony. “I write these books as historical fiction. These stories are true and are as accurate as I can make them, but they’ve got to think and feel, and speak and move. And that can only come from the heart.”

Aside from historical novels or biographies, Anthony has also written several children’s books. The most successful being The Burnt Stick. Published in 1994, it’s still widely read in primary schools today. It won the 1995 Australian Christian Literature Award for Children and the 1995 Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award for Young Readers. It tells the story of a young Australian Aboriginal boy, John Jagamarra who was taken from his mother by the Welfare Department, and sent to the Fathers at the Pearl Bay Mission.


“One conversation in the market turned into a very successful novel”


“I find the Market wonderful in that people who read my books or kids who read my books at school like The Burnt Stick, Soldier Boy, and Captain Cook’s Apprentice still come up to me,” says Anthony. “They still come up and talk to me, and I’ll sign their book, and give them a bookmark. Really, the Markets are wonderful.

“For a writer, it’s just really good to be able to talk face to face with your readers. It really is. I had a book a few years ago called The Story of Billy Young. He became a POW in Changi, Singapore in the Second World War. The idea for that story came because a lady came up to my stall at the Old Bus Depot and said, “You ought to write a book about my husband’s cousin.” And I took a note of it and rang [him] up. One conversation in the Market turned into a very successful novel.”    

See Anthony Hill and his books on 21 April for Portobello Road on Easter Sunday. Expect many of his historical novels. His most recent publication is a new edition of Captain Cook’s Apprentice. In addition to his book stall at the Old Bus Depot Markets, Anthony also sells antique items ranging in china and various bric-a-brac. Learn more about Anthony Hill through his website

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*Credits to Penguin Books for book covers in the gallery above