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23 January 2010

Alice Guerin Crist

Alice Guerin Crist was born on 6 February 1875, in Clarecastle, Ireland. Her family emigrated to Australia when she was a child. She became a pupil teacher at Upper-Coomera School in Queensland, where her father taught, before teaching at a one teacher school at Blackall Range until she was dismissed. Alice married Joseph Christ, a German farmer, on 4 October 1902, in Toowoomba, and they had 3 daughters and 1 son. When her children reached school age she returned to writing. She started working for the Catholic Advocate in June 1927 and remained with them for twelve years (Dornan 142). Her first book When Roddy Came to Ironbark was published by Cornstalk. In the early 1930s she was made Children’s Editor of the Catholic Advocate, writing the weekly Children’s Corner as ‘Betty Bluegum’ (Dornan 163). She also wrote for the Toowoomba Chronicle and the Bulletin. She received recognition for her literary career. In 1935 she was awarded the King’s Jubilee Medal for her outstanding contribution to Australian Literature, one of the few women to do so; and in 1937 she received the Commemoration Medal of the Coronation of the new King George VI and Queen Elizabeth for her service to literature (Dornan 185). Crist died from pneumonia in a Toowoomba hospital on 13 June 1941.

Further Reading
Dornan, Dimity, and Sue Hayne. Alice with Eyes a-Shine. Virginia, Qld.: Church Archivists' Press, 1998.

"Go It! Brothers!!" Sydney: Pellegrini & Co., 1929. 155 pages. Not illus.

"Go It! Brothers!!" was originally published as a serial for the Brisbane paper, the Catholic Advocate, proving so popular that it was published as a full-length novel by Catholic publishers, Pellegrini, in 1929 (Dornan 191). The novel follows new boy, Cyril O’Hara, or ‘Ginger’ as he is otherwise known, for three years as he attends St Mary’s, a Christian Brothers School. Crist based "Go It! Brothers!!" on her two sons, Dick and Terry’s schooling at St Mary’s Christian Brothers College in Toowoomba, incorporating many local characters and events into the story. Crist dedicated "Go It! Brothers!!" to the Christian Brothers order and the core values of their Catholic education of moral, mental and physical training play a central idea throughout the novel. Cyril, the hero, is a delicate boy from a troubled home. His overly strict father is away in America, and his frivolous mother is being led astray by her irreligious neighbours. An accident causes Cyril to overcome his delicate constitution and leads to a change in his mother’s behaviour. When Cyril’s father returns from America he regrets his hardness and they reconcile. This treatment of marital problems is unusual in a school story. Cyril makes friends with his new neighbour, a boy called Jim O’Brien, and spends his holidays with them at their family property, Weeronga Station, having some adventures. Crist contrasts differing family values, emphasising the godliness of Catholic families. Tom Healy, the school captain, and his friendship with a girl, is described as "sweet, wholesome and invigorating", a rare touch of romance in a boys’ school story. In the novel’s conclusion, the author highlights the values of Christian Brothers’ teaching, "whose human, even earthly value to Australia can never be fully calculated or adequately compensated" (155).


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