Kate Howarth grew up in Darlington (Sydney), Parramatta, and in Brewarrina in far western New South Wales. Her family, originally from the Nyngan, Bourke, and Cobar areas, had moved to Sydney during World War II in search of work.
Forced to leave school at fourteen, she followed an eclectic career: factory worker, Avon lady, corporate executive, and restaurateur, to name a few.
In her 50s, she began writing her memoir, Ten Hail Marys. Shortlisted for the David Unaipon Award in 2008 (when Marie Munkara won for Every Secret Thing), it was published by UQP, and went on to win the Age Book of the Year Award (Non-fiction) and be shortlisted for the Prize for Indigenous Writing (Victorian Premier's Literary Awards).
'In January 1966, Kate Howarth gave birth to a healthy baby boy at St Margaret's Home for unwed mothers in Sydney. In the months before the birth, and the days after, she resisted intense pressure to give up her son for adoption, becoming one of the few women to ever leave the institution with her baby. She was only sixteen years old.
'What inspired such courage?
'In Ten Hail Marys, Kate Howarth vividly recounts the first seventeen years of her life in Sydney's slums and suburbs and in rural New South Wales. Abandoned by her mother as a baby and then by "Mamma", her volatile grandmother, as a young girl, Kate was shunted between Aboriginal relatives and expected to grow up fast. A natural storyteller, she describes a childhood beset by hardship, abuse, profound grief and poverty, but buoyed with the hope that one day she would make a better life for herself.
'Frank, funny and incredibly moving, Ten Hail Marys is the compelling true story of a childhood lost, and a young woman's hard-won self-possession.' (From the publisher's website.)