Tell No One

Brendan Watkins

A stunning memoir of one man’s search for his birth parents, which uncovered an astonishing global scandal at the heart of the Catholic Church.

Brendan Watkins was eight years old when his parents told him he was adopted. When he was in his late twenties, he started searching for his birth parents and eventually discovered the identity of his birth mother: he was told she was a Catholic nun. And she wanted nothing to do with him. For the next thirty years Brendan had no clues as to the identity of his birth father.

In 2018, a DNA test provided the answer: he was the son of a priest. His father had studied in a Trappist monastery in Ireland, returned to Australia and become a celebrated outback missionary.

After decades of searching and obstruction from the Catholic church, the whole truth was finally exposed. Brendan Watkins’ birth parents were a Catholic priest and a nun. Tell No One reveals the moving story of that incredible discovery, and explores the questions, anxieties and reflections arising from his hidden past.

‘I read Tell No One in one sitting. I could not put it down. Everyone needs to know where they come from. It is such a core need. Brendan’s persistence against secrecy and lies was a powerful reminder that many end their lives without knowing. I so wanted a fairytale ending and then I remembered how cruel institutionalised religious power is to children and women. Read it and weep and then get strategic – it has to end.’ – Wendy McCarthy AO, author of Don’t Be Too Polite, Girls


Brendan Watkins

Brendan Watkins learned he was adopted at eight years of age. He discovered his birth mother had been a Catholic nun at thirty. A DNA test at sixty revealed his father was a celebrated Catholic priest. In late 2018, after a diverse career in the entertainment and not-for-profit sectors, he took a year off to investigate and record his story. Brendan’s debut memoir explores the questions, anxieties and reflections arising from his hidden past. It will be published by Allen & Unwin in August 2023. He has two children, a loving partner and he swims, a lot. He lives in Melbourne.

Allen & Unwin

Allen & Unwin is Australia’s leading independent publisher and is the 2023 Publisher of the Year, a title we’ve now held fifteen times. Our lists are unrivalled in scope and quality, our focus on original ideas and voices, and our acclaimed authors and titles amongst Australia’s best.

Tell No One
Rights sold
Sandra Buol