December 9, 2011

Nancy Bentley The First Australian Female Sailor

Nancy BentleyNancy twirled and whirled, dancing to the music coming from the big ship in the harbour-begins this heart warming picture book, published by New Frontier Publishing (2011).

Written by Tracey Hawkins and illustrated by Jacqui Grantford, Nancy Bentley The First Australian Female Sailor, is based on the true story of six year old Nancy Bentley who was the first female inducted into the Royal Australian Navy in 1920. Nancy was born on 6 October 1914. She was the third eldest child of seven children born to Frank and Beatrice Bentley.

In 1920, the HMAS Sydney docked in Port Arthur Habour Tasmania, after routine fleet duties in the Pacific. While playing outside, Nancy was bitten by a venomous whip snake. Faced with the fact that Nancy would not survive the journey to the doctors in the nearby town, Frank Bentley rowed his daughter out to the ship to seek help. 

At the time, the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions didn't allow woman to be on board a naval ship. In order for Nancy to remain on board, she was officially enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy. Eight days later, Nancy was officially discharged from the navy because she was 'required by her parents'. Captain Cayley awarded Nancy the Good Conduct medal and another special gift-her very own sailor's uniform.

Hawkin's has retold Nancy's moving story with beautiful simplicity making it ideal for primary school children. Her previous published books include, Max meets a Monster and Lost in the Last Frontier.

Grantford's illustrations of watercolours, pen and ink, stunningly depict Australian family life in the 1920s. My favourite page is of Nancy peering through the railings of the ship as they head out to sea, just like a true sailor of the HMAS Sydney. The end pages include Nancy Bentley's biography, photo, and her Certificate of service.

Nancy Bentley The First Australian Female Sailor is a stunning addition to any library.


Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Renee,
Thanks very much for Blogging about this intriguing new book.
Ive learned so much about Nancy Bentley and a unique piece of Australian history
What can you tell me about the author?

Unknown said...

Hey Karen,
I attached the authors links and two of her already published books. Max meets a Monster that's also published by New Frontier Publications.

This is a beautiful book that I intend to share with my family. My Dad might steal it from

DimbutNice said...

Utterly fascinating Renee. Thanks for bringing this our way.

Unknown said...

Thanks Dimity :)