Lighthouse Girl

Written by Dianne Wolfer
Illustrations by Brian Simmonds
Published by Fremantle Press, 2009

Adapted for CineStage by Theatre 180

– Black Swan Theatre adaptation The Lighthouse Girl 2017
– Inspired ‘Little Girl Giant’ in Royal de Luxe street theatre The Giants 2015
– Winner WA Young Readers’ Book Award 2010
– Shortlisted WA Premier’s Awards and NSW Premier’s History Awards
– CBCA Notable Book 2009

Buy now
from your local bookshop or from
Fremantle Press (Australia)
Booktopia (Australia)
Dymocks Online (Australia)
Book Depository (UK)
Amazon (US)

Read an article about the ‘Light’ series on the Chauvel Foundation website. Watch Dianne reflect on ANZAC Day 2020 at the Desert Mounted Corp Memorial overlooking King George Sound, Albany. 

 Read a Sample


Fay lives alone with her father on bleak, windswept Breaksea Island, but her isolated life takes a dramatic turn with the outbreak of World War I.

Fay collects the messages of lonely soldiers heading to the front line. She is their last hope of getting messages telegraphed back home. After their departure for the battlefields of Egypt and Gallipoli, she follows their fortunes and continues her long distance conversations with letters and postcards.

Then one day, a single, sad telegram arrives, and the war is brought brutally home.

In 1914, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Fay Howe, signalled to homesick soldiers travelling to World War One battlefields as part of the 1st AIF convoy. There were 36 ships carrying 30,000 troops and over 7500 horses in King George Sound. For many soldiers, Albany was their last sight of Australia.

Based on the true story of Faye, this gentle tale brings to life the hardships of those left at home during the war – waiting, wondering, hoping.

Drawing on fascinating archival material, and interweaving fact with fiction, award-winning author Dianne Wolfer deftly recreates this period in Australian history from the perspective of a young girl.

Lighthouse Girl has featured in documentaries, Illuminart story projections and Fay provided inspiration for the Little Girl Giant in the amazing Royal De Luxe Theatre’s performance of The Giants. See Dianne’s personal gallery or follow this link for photographs. An Interview with Dianne and the team from Channel 9’s Destination WA on Breaksea Island gives further insights into Fay’s story and shows evocative scenes from the island. ‘The Lighthouse Girl’ by playwright Hellie Turner and Black Swan Theatre opens in Albany/Perth in April 2017.


  • Winner, West Australian Young Readers Book Awards
  • Shortlist, NSW Premier’s History Awards
  • Shortlist, WA Premier’s Awards
  • Shortlist, CBCA Crichton Award
  • Shortlist, CBCA ‘Notable Book’

 Teachers’ Notes

Download teachers’ notes (pdf)

Teaching Activity – Semaphore flags (pdf)

Lighthouse girl semaphore activity

Other book in the series

Light Horse Boy

In The Lamplight

LLH 138px high

The Last Light Horse

Behind the Scenes

I didn’t travel far to research Lighthouse Girl. Breaksea island is just off the coast of Albany in Western Australia’s south-west region. Since publication in 2005, Lighthouse Girl has inspired many school productions, a song by Caddy Cooper, been serialised in The West Australian newspaper and been part inspiration for the amazing Giants.

Hear an interview with the author on ABC Great Southern radio (external link)

  • This clip was projected onto Albany Entertainment Centre’s roof in 2014 during the 100th commemoration of the troopships leaving Albany and signalling to Fay. More links below:

Book trailers

This clip was projected onto Albany Entertainment Centre’s roof in 2014 during the 100th commemoration of the troopships leaving Albany and signalling to Fay.


Using the viewpoint of Faye, author Dianne Wolfer has sensitively balanced the factual content in a way which will appeal to a contemporary teen reader.

There’s a traditional feel to the heavy, red cover and the tactile sense that this is a book to keep.

What will make Lighthouse Girl so attractive for educators, is not just the inspiring story of a real Australian girl, WW1 facts nor that the graphic collage is suitable for older readers, but it fits patterns of text structure and organisation of various kinds of texts, including narrative, exposition, verse, narrative voice and point of view which the curriculum requires.

Highly recommended.

-Hazel Edwards, award-winning author of “There’s a Hippopotamus on my Roof Eating Cake”. Find the full review here. 

Some information about The 2014, 100-year commemorative events in Albany

Some information about the 2020 restoration works at Breaksea Island: Maintaining Lighthouses; Family descendants.

16 thoughts on “Lighthouse Girl

  1. Mike Horsman

    Just read the book and was very impressed. Interested to know about her later life – is this available?

    1. Dianne Wolfer Post author

      Hi Aimee, huge apologies for the slow reply. I’ve only just discovered that there are comments awaiting my reply!!
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed Lighthouse Girl 🙂 To answer your question, although Fay is based on the real Fay Catherine Howe, Charlie is a fictitious character. I read many WW1 diaries and researched several soldiers so he is a compilation of many men. Best wishes and there is a third in the series coming out next April…

    1. Dianne Wolfer Post author

      Hi Bob, thank you for your kind comment and apologies for the slow delay (I must have overlooked your message). A movie option has been signed however funding and so many other factors make this a slow process. Fingers crossed that a screen version may one day be released…

    1. Dianne Wolfer Post author

      Hi Aimee, thanks for your lovely feedback. The idea began many years ago when I read a sentence in the newspaper about the daughter of the Breaksea Island lighthouse keeper signalling to departing troops. And then my imagination took over 🙂

  2. Ian

    Hi Dianne
    We are enjoying studying your book ‘Lighthouse Girl’ for English. Is there a movie of this book available for purchase?

  3. isatu bah

    Hello my names Isatu and I have to write a few things about your book for school
    and I was wondering if you could tell all the special little things about your book
    Thank you,

    1. Dianne Wolfer Post author

      HI Isatu, I’m so sorry for the slow reply. I have been traveling interstate and cracked my computer screen, just collected it yesterday. It’s probably too late now, but meeting Fay’s son and becoming close to their family has been special, as was going out to visit Breaksea Island. And there is a movie contract signed… Fingers crossed that it will be developed for the screen. Best wishes, Dianne 🙂


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