FRANCES Henke is an author and retired journalist, photographer and artist.
Aka Frances Kelly, she has written 24 books, on gardening, local and polio history, four novels, now a children's book. Her work has been included in six anthologies of garden writing, journalism and social sciences; she is a published poet.
Over the years she has been media adviser for state and federal politicians; member of the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board; spin doctor for Peninsula Health; Community Relations manager for a Community Bank branch.
During 50 years of journalism Fran worked for 3AW, The Border Morning Mail, The Canberra Times, then in the London for a group of arts magazines; as blurb writer for Granada Publishing; and a correspondent in the London bureau for Fairfax Media. 'George Davis' wrote cookery, travel and poetry when a pseudonym was needed particularly in London when at the time, work wasn't accepted from a woman.
Fran returned to Sydney to join The National Times as arts and books editor. She moved on to be theatre critic and arts feature writer for The Australian before returning to Melbourne to work in the newsroom at SBS Radio. Seeking a more peaceful life with husband Ian, she moved to write for and edit regional newspapers, enjoying nearly 15 years with the Independent News Group as senior journalist and columnist covering local councils with an irreverent column 'Council Watch'.
The Henkes live in Victoria, Australia: at Hastings on Westernport, where they are managed by Tibetan Spaniels.
Fran's community work has focussed on polio issues and taxation reform. Realising the importance of spreading the word on post polio syndrome, she joined Mornington Peninsula Post Polio Support Group in 2001. She became inaugural chair of the Polio Reference Group for Independence Australia supporting Polio Network Victoria and briefly a board member of Polio Australia before being advised it was time to cut back. That involved writing a new book for polio survivors, as well as putting out monthly and quarterly newsletters. She is currently vice chair and newsletter editor for Polio Network Victoria, Editor MPPPSG.
Her roles included past president and secretary of McClelland Guild of Artists, past secretary Australian Taxation Reform Group; proud member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. She received a Vocational Award for Polio Education in 2006 from the Rotary Club of Frankston; Excellence of Service Award from Rotary Club of Wantirna in 2011; named the inaugural ‘Suburban Superstar’ for Fairfax Community Newspapers for her community work in 2008.
In 2015 Fran received a Flinders Seniors Award from Federal MP Greg Hunt for her work over decades to improve the lives of Polio Survivors. In 2016 and 2017 she was recognised for disability advocacy and writing in the Supreme Court of Victoria's Inspire Awards. She was a Mornington Peninsula Shire Mobility Scooter Ambassador, presenting forums on education and safety. Fran is on Facebook and Instagram expressing her passion for photography featuring Westernport and seabirds. Also quirky iPad drawings.
Flying Pony Press evolved when mainstream publishers became focussed on block busters. Friends also wanted work published. We have since published a dozen books - novels, a play, cookbook, art history, handbooks for polio survivors and who knows what next. Logo is based on one of Fran's London poems.
Key member of the team is Mike Hast, colleague, friend and meticulous editor, with Eureka Printing, Glen Waverley, the go-to book maker.
Books and writings
As Frances Kelly
The Tiny Utopia, Terrace Times 1977
Balconies and Courtyards, Magman 1978
The Perfumed Garden, Methuen 1981
A Simple Pleasure, Methuen 1982
Garden Crafts; House Crafts; Food Crafts; Bush Crafts; Farm Crafts, Rigby 1978 (republished as Good Work, McPhee Gribble/Viking 1986)
The Faithful Garden, Methuen 1986
The Illustrated Language of Flowers, Viking O’Neil 1992
Westerly magazine, University of Western Australia 1972 (Expatriates special edition).
Workshop New Poetry (Workshop Press, UK) 1972
Mother I’m Rooted: Australian Women’s Poetry, Outback Press 1975
Best of the Independent Monthly, Deakin University Press 1992 (Fran's Polio story)
The Australian Gardener’s Anthology, McPhee
Gardenesque, Miegunyah Press 2004
As Frances Henke
Mountain Views : Healesville Shire centenary 1887-1987.
Published Mountain Views, Healesville, 1987
Links With History: 100 years of Flinders Golf Club
(with Deborah Morris) 2006
From The Ground Up: A Complete Garden Guide for Victoria (contributing editor), Neutrog 2010
Iron Wills: Polio Survivors’ Stories, Polio Network Victoria 2012
The Polio Day Cookbook – fine food for the fatigued, PNV 2013
Life Skills for Polios – a light-hearted handbook, Mornington Peninsula Post-Polio Support Group 2017
Growing Up Disabled in Australia, Black Inc 2021
For children and all others:
Timmy's Daughter, Flying Pony Press, 2023
With Peter Batey:
In Yer Face – The Bald Archy Prize, Flying Pony
The Fair Wind series:
The Other Side of the Wind: A Story of Survival, Flying Pony Press 2013 second and third impressions
Winds of Rebellion, Flying Pony Press 2016, 2022
An Imperfect Calendar, Flying Pony Press 2019
The Coriolis Effect, Flying Pony Press 2022
Royboy: a polyunsaturated life, Flying Pony Press 2014
UNABLE to undertake tertiary study thanks to polio at the age of three, on turning 65, Fran fulfilled the dream and attended Chisholm Frankston from 2008/10 to study for the Visual Arts diploma. She majored in sculpture and printmaking. Having failed almost everything at school owing to family circumstances, she was delighted to pass with flying colours (7HDs).
Her graduation solo show of relief prints – 'Carving Clouds' at Libran Dogma Gallery, Narre Warren North in 2011. She was a finalist in the Bald Archy Satirical Portrait awards over ten years, selling regularly.
In 2015 and 2017 she won the Director's Award at Oak Hill Gallery, Mornington, for Little Archies Portrait exhibitions (see Artist page). Linocuts and iPad drawings illustrate recent books, including Life Skills for Polios 2017 (available now via Polio Journey page on this site!).
2018-19 was focussed on linocuts and drawings for the new novel, with some painting and lots of photography - see page Catching the Light. Watercolour is not her best subject, but through painting dogs has begun to get the hang of it.
2020-22 has been spent writing and illustrating Coriolis, dealing with after effects of a new hip, refining iPad drawings thanks to a new Apple Pencil. Oh, and maybe a return to gardening topics for the fatigued.
Timmy's Daughter 2023, has been illustrated with watercolours and iPad drawings over the years of Timmy and Rupee's life then introduction to the family of Chai.
Fran as seen on ABC-TV in 2015, for Polio Awareness Month, explaining about Post Polio Syndrome. Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRSTGdwWReg&feature=youtu.be
The Tibs: left: Rupee and Timmy, pen, ink and wash drawing; above: Chai, the explorer