Life after PNG—Margaret Clancy: Marie Clifton-Bassett

What people do after a career in PNG is always interesting. Members may not know of the second career of Margaret Clancy whose husband, Des, was a popular kiap with an outstanding record. The family left PNG just after Independence and settled in Perth. Des then took up a position with the WA Government initiating a system of regional government for that State. All the while, Margaret continued in her role as a French teacher.

When Margaret was teaching French in Perth schools, she found there was no available literature for beginner students, so she decided to make her own books. Other teachers persuaded her to approach a small publishing group of two sisters and their brother who agreed to take them on. Since then (five years ago) the business has grown greatly and the publishing company is doing very well. The books comprise a set of five small books introducing a family, the Picard family: it includes parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and pets, ages, names, numbers, colours and greetings. These are the only foreign language books for this age group available in Australia. There is now demand for a set of books at a higher level; Margaret has just completed these, and the sets will be available to schools later in the year.

The books have been translated into eleven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese Pinyin, Chinese Simplified Version, Japanese Hiragana, and Japanese Romaji; the names of people and pets differ in each translation so as to be relevant to the target language. The books are illustrated by Kerry Jordinson who with her great sense of humor is the perfect illustrator for a set of children’s books. The sets of language books are sold to schools (and even universities) throughout Australia.

There are also books of plays for beginners and intermediate students in several languages with English translations. The plays are mostly based on well-known fairy tales. Margaret said that during the school year the children would put on an Assembly play every fortnight which greatly brightened up the Assembly.

Perhaps PNG’s legacy was that it taught self-reliance: if you couldn’t buy the dress you wanted, you got out the sewing machine, or if there were no shops to buy delicacies, you made them yourself. The same goes for beginner French books!


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