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The Empty Honour Board

$25.00 inc GST

2 in stock

A prison diary, a story of brotherly love, a journey of redemption, Martin Flanagan’s compelling book about his boarding school days goes inside an experience many have had but few have talked about.

In 1966, at the age of 10, Martin Flanagan was sent to a Catholic boarding school in north-west Tasmania. Of the 12 priests on the staff, three have since gone to prison for sexual crimes committed against boys in their care. In 2018 and 2019, a series of disclosures about the school appeared on the ABC Tasmania website. Then came the Pell case. What followed was a frenzy of opinions, none of which represented Flanagan’s view.

The Empty Honour Board is part memoir, a reflection on truth and memory, and what is lost in rushing to judgement.

Flanagan’s school abounds in memorable characters. There’s a kid who escapes and gets as far as Surfers Paradise, and two boys who hold a competition during evening chapel to see who can confess more times. A wild boy receives a ‘Bradmanesque’ 234 strokes of the cane in one year.

It is a lonely and, at times, scary existence – as while the boys are victims of violence, they are also perpetrators. Drawn to neither the school nor its religion, Flanagan discovers himself through sport, later becoming known as one of Australia’s most creative sportswriters.

But his boarding days linger. In his first three years at the school, he’d faced a series of adult moral challenges. Not being an adult, he had failed – in his own estimation. This becomes of great consequence in his 20s when his wife is about to have their first child. A major reckoning with his past, however, leaves him with his ambition as a writer.

A prison diary, a story of brotherly love, a journey of redemption, Flanagan’s book goes inside an experience many have had, but few have talked about.