James K. Baxter Complete Prose Volume 4
Short Biographies of Some New Zealand Writers
Short Biographies of Some New Zealand Writers
Arthur Henry Adams (1872-1936), poet, prose-writer and journalist, was born in Otago. After graduating in 1894 with a BA from Otago University College he worked for newspapers in New Zealand and Australia and at one stage was editor of the ‘Red Page’ of the Sydney Bulletin. From 1911 to 1917 he was editor of the Sydney Sun. Then he returned to the Bulletin. He wrote short stories and novels, several plays and five collections of poetry. The first of these, Maoriland and Other Verses (1899), was notable for its unsentimental imagery of the harsher aspects of the South Island landscape. His Collected Verses was published in 1913.
Fleur Adcock (1934- ), poet, was born in Papakura. Between the ages of five and thirteen she lived with her family in England. Returning with them to New Zealand she finished her secondary schooling in Wellington and then attended Victoria University where she achieved an MA in Classics. While she was still a student in 1952 she married Alistair Campbell. They had two children. In 1957 she abandoned her marriage and went to Dunedin to teach at the university. Finding the work unsatisfying she took up a librarian’s position instead, while studying by correspondence for an English librarian’s qualification. She returned to Wellington in 1962 and on 9 February of that year married Barry Crump. Until late in the year she worked at the Alexander Turnbull Library; then she abandoned her marriage once again and left for England early in 1963. She was a librarian for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office until 1979 when she became a freelance writer. Her first poetry collection, The Eye of the Hurricane, was published in New Zealand in 1964. Her entry in the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature mentions that her England poems are sometimes written from the perspective of an outsider or reveal a divided identity. Her preoccupations with identity, revealed in encounters with place and in the events of daily living, feature in her publications from the 1970s, High Tide in the Garden (1971), The Scenic Route (1974) and The Inner Harbour (1979). But The Incident Book (1986), Meeting the Comet (1988) and Time-Zones (1991) revealed that her concerns then became increasingly social and political. Following her Oxford Selected Poems (1991) she produced several more collections of poetry which confirmed her reputation as a leading international poet. In 1987 she edited the Faber Book of Twentieth-Century Women’s Poetry. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (2006) and made a Companion of the New Zealand Orderpage 430 of Merit in 2008. In her poem ‘In Memoriam: James K. Baxter’ (see Note 557) she recalled her twenty-year friendship with him.
J[ohannes] C[arl] Andersen (1873-1962), anthropologist, was born in Denmark and arrived in New Zealand with his parents in 1874. Between 1907 and 1927 seventeen of his papers were published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, including contributions on metre, New Zealand birdsong and Māori music. In 1907 he published a large collection of myths and legends entitled Maori Life in Ao-tea (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1907). This book reveals his optimism. It was ‘Dedicated to the Older Maori People of Aotearoa and to the Younger Poets and Artists of New Zealand with Hopes for the Immortality of the One at the Hands of the Other’. He moved to Wellington in 1912 and became a librarian in the parliamentary library. In 1918 he was appointed librarian for the Alexander Turnbull Library. His Myths and Legends of the Polynesians was published in New York in 1928. He considered that Māori culture should be central to New Zealand life and literature and translated some Māori songs.
Sylvia Ashton-Warner (1908-84), educator and novelist, worked as a teacher between 1938 and 1955 with Māori children in the East Cape, Hawke’s Bay, and at Pipiriki, near Jerusalem. In 1931 she married and thereafter had three children. Her novel Spinster (1958) was received with enthusiasm which she resented because she felt that the country had rejected her. On 15 January 1960, Sargeson told Janet Frame that he had been visited by Ashton-Warner, who had just signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for the film rights to Spinster: the down-payment was ₤10,000. He remarked that she was ‘quite fascinating – ravaged with age & the trials of teaching Maori children, but repaired with make-up ½ an inch thick. She is the Anna of the book: i.e. a woman of attractive dottiness touched with just the right amount of dotty genius – very engaging, & moving. . . .’ (Sargeson, 282). Incense to Idols (1960) considered the predicament of a heroine who succumbed to the idols of her outer world, male lovers, appearances and alcohol. It had a hostile reception in New Zealand and an episode in which the heroine had a miscarriage and then put the foetus into a wine glass was considered especially shocking. In Teacher (1963) she again rejected New Zealand. Other books were Greenstone (1966), Bell Call (1969), Three (1970), and Stories from the River (1985). After her husband died in 1969 he was honoured with a tangi for his educational work with New Zealand children (just as JKB would be honoured three years later). Sylvia then escaped to the United States but returned late in her life to New Zealand where she died. Her life was marred by alcoholism, depression and sedatives. In her autobiography Myself (1966) she gave an account of her years at Pipiriki, near Jerusalem. The complete autobiography of this passionate, restless woman, I Passed this Way (1979), was awarded the Newpage 431 Zealand Book Award for Non-Fiction in 1980. In Sylvia (1988) Lynley Hood provided a little more balanced, if less fascinating account of the life of a remarkable woman and writer.
John Barr (1809-89), poet, settled in Otago in 1852. He took up farming and soon became regarded as the provincial laureate. He founded the Robert Burns Society and mixed his own concoction of English and Lowland Scots verse which Curnow considered ‘watery gruel at the best’. He published his verse in Poems and Songs, Descriptive and Satirical (1861).
Blanche Edith Baughan (1870-1958) was born in Surrey, England. At Royal Holloway College, London, she was the first student to gain a University of London BA degree in Classics with first-class honours. In 1891 she began to do social work in East London. From 1893 she wrote poems and some of these were collected in Verses (1898). During the 1890s she nursed her mother, who had a psychiatric condition.
Arriving in New Zealand in 1900 she settled in Banks Peninsula and attempted to write a new poetry for a new place. The best of these poems were collected in Shingle-short and other verses (1908). In 1912 she produced a collection of unpretentious short stories in which some of the characters used the common speech of the working-class. It was entitled Brown Bread from a Colonial Oven. About 1910 she moved to a cottage on Clifton Spur, Sumner, where she lived till 1930. After a period of illness her poetic gift failed, as is evident from her 1923 collection Poems from the Port Hills, but she continued to write prose, and her essays on the environment which she wrote while walking in sub-alpine and alpine regions proved especially popular to readers of English journals.
Her interest in Indian Vedanta doctrines took her to India and California in search of Enlightenment but when she returned to New Zealand she involved herself in a more immediate matter – a campaign to win more humane conditions for prisoners. In 1924 she was one of the co-founders of the New Zealand Branch of the Howard League for Penal Reform. She rolled up her sleeves and in 1930 when she moved from Clifton to Akaroa she turned her home into a half-way house for former prisoners and people living on the fringe of society. Because of her activism she was appointed official visitor to the Addington Reformatory for Women but resigned after complaints from prison officials that she had written to a newspaper in her formal capacity as visitor.
In 1935 her services to society were recognised when she was awarded the King George Jubilee Medal. She died at Akaroa on 20 August 1958.
In 1992 Nancy May Harris submitted to the University of Canterbury a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. It is entitled ‘Making it New: Modernism in B.E. Baughan’s New Zealand Poetry’.page 432
Jacqueline Cecilia Baxter (1927-2009). See Jacqueline Cecilia Sturm.
Ernest Beaglehole (1906-65), social anthropologist, was a brother of J.C. Beaglehole, the Cook scholar. In 1928 Ernest graduated from Victoria University College with first-class honours; then he studied at the London School of Economics. In 1933 he married Pearl Milsin, also a social anthropologist. Together they did research in the Cook Islands and Hawaii. In 1937 Ernest was appointed senior lecturer in mental and moral philosophy at Victoria University College where, in 1948, he was awarded the chair of psychology and philosophy. He and his wife continued their ethnographic research and one result was the book to which JKB refers, Some Modern Maoris (Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1946). The book, which contained a challenging Foreword by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck) caused a stir because of its unusually frank observations about the lives of Māori and the Freudian interpretation given to some behaviour.
James [Munro] Bertram (1910-1993) attended Waitaki Boys High School, where he became a friend of Charles Brasch and Ian Milner. At Auckland University College he edited the first two numbers of Phoenix magazine. (R.A.K. Mason succeeded him as editor.) In 1932 he won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended New College, Oxford, from where he graduated with a first in English. Then he became a correspondent in China and a pro-China activist. When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong he fought against them until he was captured and sent to Tokyo where for three years he was a forced labourer. In 1945 he returned to New Zealand. Two years later he became a member of the staff (eventually a professor) of the English Department at Victoria University of Wellington. He retired in 1975. Always a strong supporter of New Zealand literature, after his retirement he edited the Oxford series ‘New Zealand Writers and their Work’ for which Vincent O’Sullivan wrote James K. Baxter (Wellington and London: Oxford University Press, 1977). It was reviewed by Sam Hunt in the NZ Listener (no. 1942, 12 Mar. 1977: 38). Bertram edited The New Zealand Letters of Thomas Arnold the Younger (1964).
[Mary] Ursula Bethell (1874-1945) was born in England and came to New Zealand with her parents in 1876. She attended Christchurch Girls’ High School for two years (1887-88) when the headmistress was Helen Connon, JKB’s grandmother. Sent to England, she attended Oxford Girls’ High School from 1889 to 1891, boarding with the Mayhew family, whom she later addressed in her ‘Garden’ poems. Afterwards she went backwards and forwards between New Zealand, Europe and England. For a short time in 1899 she was a member of ‘Women Workers for God’ (the Grey Ladies), an Anglican foundation. During World War One she was marooned in England. In 1919 she returned to New Zealand and in 1924 bought Rise Cottage (10page 433 Westenra Terrace) on the Cashmere Hills where she lived for ten years with her dear friend Effie Pollen. In the same year she began writing poetry. Her first book was From a Garden in the Antipodes (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929), using the pseudonym Evelyn Hayes. This was followed by Time and Place, poems by the Author of ‘From a Garden in the Antipodes’ (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1936). Her next book was Day and Night: Poems 1924-34, by the author of ‘Time and Place’ (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1939).
Effie Pollen’s death in 1934 made Rise Cottage less appealing and Ursula sold it and returned to the Christchurch house she did not much like, both for company and because she intended to lead a more ascetic life. Wrongly presuming that she would have no more use for it she had previously gifted it to the Church of England. As ‘St Faith’s House for Sacred Learning’ it was to be used to train deaconesses.
Other than an annual memorial poem for Effie written in or about November from 1935 to 1940 she wrote little, apart from amending some old drafts and producing a few poems to be grouped as ‘By the River Ashley’. When she knew she was dying in 1944 she agreed to the publication of her collected poems. She died on 15 January 1945 and was buried alongside her parents in the cemetery of the parish church in Rangiora. Her Collected Poems, published in Christchurch by the Caxton Press in 1950, included ‘Six Memorials’ for Effie Pollen. This volume was succeeded by Collected Poems (edited by Vincent O’Sullivan, Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1985 and 1997). A selection of her letters, edited by Peter Whiteford, was published as Vibrant with Words (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2005). No biography has yet been written (2009) but M.H. Holcroft wrote a useful monograph: Mary Ursula Bethell. New Zealand Writers and Their Works (Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1975).
Peter Bland (1934-), actor and poet. As a boy he stayed with relatives in England while his parents lived in Nigeria where his father was a trader in peanuts and cocoa. Both his parents died when he was in his early teens. Wanting to begin a new life he emigrated from England to New Zealand when he was twenty years old. Between 1955 and 1959 he studied English at Victoria University where he became a friend of Baxter and Johnson, and received the Macmillan Brown Prize for a collection of his poetry. (It was published in 1958 as Habitual Fevers.) He wrote a number of radio plays and this helped him gain employment at the Broadcasting Corporation where he became a producer. He then became a feature writer for the Listener. After Martyn Sanderson engaged him in some persuasive conversations Bland joined him and actor Tim Elliott to co-found Downstage Theatre. He then became an actor and its artistic director from 1964 to 1968. By 1970 he was back in England where he became a successful and well-known actor, usually in comic roles. In 1983 he returned to New Zealand to direct Came apage 434 Hot Friday. Bland starred in it as a conman. After that he made a successful career in New Zealand as an actor and director. In 1989 he returned to England where he gained a role as a butler in a series of advertisements shot in Spain. In 2000 he retired from acting. His poetry collections My Side of the Story: Poems 1960-1964 (1964), Domestic Interiors (1964), The Man with the Carpet-Bag (1972) and Mr Maui (1976) illustrate his preoccupation with the suburban realities of the lives of New Zealanders. He has published other books as well and his development as a poet is represented in editions of his Selected Poems (McIndoe, 1987 and Carcanet, 1998) and in Let’s Meet; poems 1985-2003, which was published by Steele Roberts. His memoir sorry, I’m a stranger here myself, was published by Random House in 2004.
C[harles] C[hristopher] Bowen (1830-1917), politician and poet, arrived in Canterbury in 1850 and became part-owner of the Lyttelton Times, a magistrate and the member of parliament for Kaiapoi. In 1861 he published his conventional verse in Poems. His greatest achievement occurred when he was a cabinet minister and responsible (in 1877) for the Act which established a national system of education as free, secular and compulsory. (In ‘Notes on the Education of a New Zealand Poet’ JKB later argued against these requirements.)
Thomas Bracken (1843-98) was born in Ireland. After the death of his parents he was sent when he was aged twelve to live with an uncle in Victoria, Australia. There he did farm work, fossicked for gold and kept a store. He also began writing tales of the goldfields and of farming life.
In 1869, aged twenty-five, he moved to New Zealand, where a collection of his Australian poems was published. He continued to do odd jobs and write and his book Flights among the Flax was awarded the Otago Caledonian Society’s prize. He joined the staff of the Otago Guardian and wrote for other papers as well. In 1875 he became editor of the Saturday Advertiser, which was designed to foster ‘a national spirit’ and ‘colonial literature’. It encouraged local writers and his own contributions included ‘God Defend New Zealand’ which appeared in the issue of 1 July 1876, along with an announcement that the paper was offering a prize of ten guineas for a musical score. Subsequently the committee of twelve judges unanimously decided that the entry of John Joseph Woods, a music teacher of Lawrence, would receive the prize. (‘God Defend New Zealand’ became widely sung but only in 1977 was it given equal status to ‘God Save the Queen’ as a national anthem.) Bracken’s other best-known piece of verse was ‘Not Understood’ (1879) which may have been occasioned when Bishop Patrick Moran declined his application to become editor of the Catholic periodical, the Tablet.
Bracken became famous throughout New Zealand and Australia for his books of poetry Behind the Tomb and Other Poems (1871), Flowers ofpage 435 the Freelands (1877), The Land of the Maori and the Moa (1884), Musings in Maoriland (1890) and his selected poems Lays and Lyrics: God’s Own Country and Other Poems (1893).
He spent four years in parliament advocating Liberal causes and speaking up for Māori because he considered that their rights under the Treaty of Waitangi had been entirely disregarded.
For the greater part he made his living from his journalistic and editorial career but he did not manage money well and late in his life he and his family were living in a poor cottage at the back of the Dunedin tramsheds. He died in a poor man’s bed in hospital.
Charles [Orwell] Brasch (1909-73), of Dunedin, was born into a family which owned the Hallenstein’s clothing business. Between 1922 and 1927 he attended Waitaki Boys High School where he became a friend of Ian Milner (son of the headmaster) and James Bertram. From 1927 to 1931 he read history at St John’s College, Oxford. Back in New Zealand he was expected to work for the family’s business but after an angry confrontation with his father he returned to England in 1932, determined to become a poet. He then taught for a time at a school for children with intellectual disabilities before travelling and engaging in archaeology. In 1938, in Christchurch, he met members of the literary and art scene and contributed to Tomorrow. In the following year Caxton published his first book of poems, The Land and the People. During the war he worked in London for the Foreign Office. Glover stayed with him when he was in London and they discussed the need for a new journal. After declaring himself a pacifist he stayed in England during the war. He returned to New Zealand in 1946 and soon met people who interested him, including JKB, whom he described in his autobiography.
Brasch returned to New Zealand with the intention of establishing a high quality literary magazine – the first number of Landfall appeared in March 1947. Brasch initially favoured ‘Antipodes’ or ‘South’, others wanted ‘Tuatara’, but someone, possibly Baigent, suggested Landfall, presumably borrowed from Curnow’s ‘Landfall in Unknown Seas’. Brasch edited it from 1947 to 1966.
His second book of poetry was Disputed Ground; poems 1939-45 (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1948); his third was The Estate and Other Poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1957). The poems in Ambulando (1964) and Not Far Off (1969), both published by Caxton, had a more personal tone than his earlier poetry.
In December 1966 he edited his last issue of Landfall. He had occupied the editor’s chair for twenty years. His successor was Robin Dudding, former editor of Mate, who held the position until 1972 when, after a period of strained relations with the Caxton directors, he was dismissed after the first issue of Landfall for the year was late. (He had waited for a copyright page 436clearance on a rediscovered Katherine Mansfield story, but this was obviously not the real reason for his dismissal.) Leo Bensemann then became editor. In the middle of that year Dudding established Islands, which thereafter became Brasch’s true instrument. Brasch offered to provide £2000 to set it up but died before that happened.
A generous patron of the arts, he made it possible for the Burns Fellowship to be established. This eventually helped JKB when he was twice awarded the Fellowship.
It may never be known how many people benefited from his kindness. He sent Sargeson a quarterly sum to make living a little easier and so earned the waspish novelist’s defensive gratitude. Sargeson first met Brasch in 1948 and thought him ‘a shy dark girl’. Much later he appreciated a remark by Karl Stead who wrote from France to say that he had had a visit from Brasch and wondered why people were ‘so pious about such a precious old spoof whose nearest approach to gaiety is a giggle behind a coyly clenched right knee and whose jealousies and grudges are dressed up as Good Taste and paraded as Critical Judgments’ (King, 386).
Brasch died at home of Hodgkins’s disease in the night of 19 May 1973 or early the next morning, having asked previously that his ashes be scattered ‘in a high and windy place’. He was a guarded man and deliberately ended his memoir Indirections (1980) with the founding of Landfall because he did not want to reveal details of his later life, including a deep love affair he had in the early 1960s which almost shattered him when it broke up. His literary executor was Alan Roddick, who edited his Collected Poems in 1984. His lifelong friend James Bertram edited Indirections, his amputated autobiography. His journals are kept under seal in the Hocken Library.
Alistair [Te Ariki] Campbell (1925-2009) was born in Rarotonga of a Rarotongan mother and a father from Dunedin who was of Scottish descent. After his mother died in 1932 and his father in the following year Alistair and his younger brother were sent to live with his grandparents in Dunedin. But that did not work out and he was brought up in an orphanage.
While at Victoria University he became a friend of Roy Dickson who was killed during an expedition into the Otago mountains in 1947. His death led to the remarkable ‘Elegy’ in Mine Eyes Dazzle. Already an accomplished poet (at times showing the influence of Keats and Yeats) he became a member of the Wellington group which included JKB, Louis Johnson, Peter Bland, Anton Vogt and others.
In 1952 he married Fleur Adcock (born 1934) but he divorced her in 1957 and married Meg Anderson, an actor, in the following year. (Fleur Adcock later said in a TV interview that she could not write poetry while ‘a real poet’ like Alistair was in the house. But it is also clear that at that time he could not write poetry either.) Like JKB he was employed as an editor by the Schoolpage 437 Publications Branch of the Department of Education. In the year following this review JKB would say in Recent Trends in New Zealand Poetry that ‘Alistair Campbell is the outstanding poet of the Wellington group.’ He added that ‘The control of a near-speech rhythm seems second nature to Campbell. His view of South Island mountain landscape is essentially animistic; and the hesitancy of many older poets is shorn away.’
In 1960 Campbell experienced a breakdown after which he was able to address his own life issues as sources for his poetry. He told Sam Hunt later that his breakdown ‘cracked the ice’ and ‘allowed the spring to flow once more’. Afterwards he accepted the fact that he was not fully European but Polynesian as well. This new tendency is visible in Sanctuary of Spirits (1963), and a radio play The Homecoming (1964). This was the first of six radio plays, of which When the Bough Breaks (1970) became best known. More poetry collections followed, including Kapiti (1971), and Dreams, Yellow Lions (1975). The Dark Lord of Savaiki (1980) considered the impact of his return to Rarotonga. His Collected Poems (1981) was followed by an autobiography and three novels. Pocket Collected Poems (1996) was introduced by a substantial essay by Roger Robinson, Professor of English at Victoria University.
Patric Carey (c. 1921-2006) was born in Ireland but moved to London where he joined a travelling company of players. He married Rosalie Seddon whom he met in 1950. He arrived in New Zealand in 1956, settled in Auckland and began training actors. Then he left for Dunedin where his first production (1957) was Medea. He produced Waiting for Godot in 1959 and seven more plays in 1961, the year when he and Rosalie had a purpose-built theatre attached to their house at 104 London Street. In 1973, the year after JKB died, Carey left Dunedin – he was burnt out after producing/directing almost 180 plays. In 1983 he moved to Gore and became a partner in Eastern Southland Gallery. He died in 2006.
Rosalie Carey (1921-2011) taught speech and drama from 1940. In 1945 she travelled to England on the first passenger ship that travelled after the war, intending to study drama. She worked there for five years before returning to Wellington. She moved to Dunedin about 1957. One of her books is A Theatre in the House – the Carey’s Globe. In the 1980s she moved to Whangarei. She wrote four books of poetry and produced a dozen or more plays.
John Caselberg (1927-2004), poet, prose-writer and artistic collaborator with painter Colin McCahon, was born in Nelson. He went to Dunedin to study medicine but was seized by poetry and became a poet. He married Anna, daughter of painter Tosswill (Toss) Woollaston, provided text for paintings by his friend Colin McCahon, and wrote important critical reviews and essays on McCahon’s work.page 438
Gordon Challis (1932- ), poet, arrived in New Zealand (via Spain and Australia) in 1953. In Wellington he worked as a postman and studied psychology at Victoria University. From 1961 to 1962 he was employed as a psychiatric social worker at Porirua Hospital and then moved to Hastings for a time before becoming a psychiatric social worker in Australia. He began writing poetry while at university and in 1963 Caxton published his very interesting collection, Building. Then he abandoned poetry until late in the 1980s when he again dipped his toe in the water. He returned to Porirua and retired there in 1988. In 2003 he published a new collection of poems entitled The other side of the brain. His third collection was Luck of the Bounce (2009).
Robert Chapman (1922-2004) became professor of political studies at the University of Auckland. Interested in literature, he became an important critic and anthologist; he was co-editor of An Anthology of New Zealand Verse (Oxford University Press, 1956) which opposed Curnow’s conscious New Zealandism. His most important piece of literary criticism was ‘Fiction and the Social Pattern: Some Implications of Recent New Zealand Writing’ which was published in Landfall. It argued in favour of humanitarian liberalism and against forms of puritanism which distorted New Zealand society. In fiction he supported critical realism, of the kind that Sargeson wrote.
John Reece Cole (1916-84), short-story writer, was born in Palmerston North. He had to leave school when he was fourteen to go to work as a clerk. He also did some freelance writing. A fighter pilot and instructor during the war, he was discharged in 1944 because of injury. Mason introduced him to Sargeson who became his literary mentor. From 1944 to 1948 he studied at Auckland University College and then at library school. In 1949 Glover published his It Was so Late and Other Stories. Many of them were written while he lived in a caravan at the foot of Greville Texidor’s garden.
He became a librarian with the National Library Service and served as a UNESCO library adviser in Indonesia. Finally he was appointed chief librarian at the Turnbull Library, Wellington. He also became a member of a committee which drafted the Indecent Publications Bill. He supported it and it became law in 1963 when he was president of PEN. As a result of its passage into law various writers resigned from PEN or protested in the media.
He had a traffic accident in 1962 while driving to Waihi to collect some manuscripts for the Hocken Library. After swerving to avoid a child who ran onto the highway he struck his left temple. He had a second accident in 1964, suffering brain damage, after which he became reckless and spendthrift and according to King, engaged in ‘manic monologues’. Ill-health forced him to resign from the Hocken Library in 1965. In 1971 his wife, Christine, divorced him. In 1975 Delys Reed, whom he had met three years earlier, moved into his Wellington house and began nursing him.page 439
Meanwhile Christine Cole married a retired engineer named Douglas Catley and established a publishing firm Cape Catley Ltd at Whatamongo Bay, in Queen Charlotte Sound.
Raymond (Ray) [Augustus] Copland (1918-2009), university teacher and writer, served in the RNZAF during World War Two. In 1948 he completed a BA (Hons) at the University of Canterbury and began teaching there in the following year. In 1960 he completed a doctorate in English. He became Professor of English in 1970, retired in 1976, and was appointed Emeritus Professor in 1986. He was primarily a teacher, greatly admired for his elegant formulations and witty asides. In 1971 he delivered the Macmillan Brown Lecture at the University of Canterbury on the topic of ‘God above and God within: the literature of belief ’. In 1974, anonymously, he edited the memoir of John Macmillan Brown which JKB was unable to complete. Two years later he wrote Frank Sargeson for the Oxford University Press series New Zealand Writers and their Work.
[Walter] D’Arcy Cresswell (1896-1960) was born in Christchurch. He attended Christ’s College from 1910 to 1912 and then worked for a short time with a Christchurch architectural firm. Feeling a call to greatness as a poet he went to England in 1913 and began a course of studies at a school of architecture in London. He joined the British expeditionary force in France and was wounded. After convalescing and doing more service in the south of England he returned to New Zealand in 1919. In the following year, while in Whanganui, he was shot by the mayor when Cresswell, having discovered that he (the mayor) was homosexual, threatened to blackmail him. It is not known what, if anything, Cresswell did to encourage the mayor’s advances but before long it became plain that he, too, was homosexual.
In 1921 he left New Zealand for England for the second time. He went to Germany for six months and in Cologne fell in love with Otto Gugenheim, a seventeen-year-old lad (‘handsome, serious and reserved’) and an army sergeant (‘a wild and reckless fellow’). In November 1922 he went to Wales to be on hand when Ramsay MacDonald, whom he knew, was expected to win a seat for the Tories. Arriving at Aberavon he fell in love with a young miner who promised to follow Cresswell to London but did not, causing Cresswell much regret because ‘he is a man I shall never forget, nor ever cease to love.’
Settled in London in rooms above a butcher’s shop he was poor and friendless. But fortunately Otto came from Cologne to study medicine. Cresswell could not see enough of him, remarking ‘We were devoted to each other.’ He also wrote ‘I took but a limited interest in women.’ But Otto did not satisfy him so he went searching in bars and cafes for a companion and found one, an unnamed South African who had fled from home for some reason. He had other affairs with men but on 28 August 1925 married Emilypage 440 Dacie in a London church, giving his occupation as ‘poet’. In the following year he abandoned her and his son.
In 1928, after seven years’ absence, he returned to New Zealand. Before leaving England and during the voyage in steerage he wrote snatches of autobiography for The Poet’s Progress. Between June and October 1928 the Christchurch Press published ‘My Life Abroad’, a series of articles. In Christchurch he completed his autobiography. He also met Jake, ‘a handsome young sailor’.
After five months in New Zealand he worked his passage to England as a crew member on a refrigerated cargo ship. It was 1928 and this was his third visit there. He rapidly fell in with his friends Otto, Duick, George, Frank and others and met ‘B’, for whom he had ‘more than an ordinary liking’. But ‘B’ was arrested for robbery and attempted murder and had to be abandoned. Then he met Nobby, a young Cockney boxer whom he admitted embracing ‘near the dustbins’.
He sold his poetry from door to door and made every effort to meet the literary set. Some of them gave him money; others provided him with accommodation, meals or invitations to social events. They included Edward Marsh, John Gielgud, Philip and Lady Ottoline Morell, and the Meynells. (He did somersaults with H.G. Wells on the Morells’ lawn.) He also met Laurence Binyon, T.E. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Maurice Baring, Eric Gill, Edith Sitwell, Walter de la Mare, Lowes Dickinson, Lytton Strachey and E.M. Forster. He came to know the artist William Rothenstein and Mrs Rothenstein introduced him to Arnold Bennett, who supported the publication of The Poet’s Progress. With a portrait by Rothenstein, it was published by Faber in 1929/1930 and favourably reviewed by Bennett in the Evening Standard. In 1931 Cresswell’s Poems 1924-1931 was published.
When he returned to New Zealand in 1932 there was widespread public dissatisfaction about his articles in the Press, particularly his criticisms of New Zealand, and after six issues the new series was suspended. He then stayed with Ursula Bethell for a time to salve his ‘wounded feelings’.
Afterwards he went to Castor Bay, Auckland, where he lived in poverty, foraging for food and spending ‘a wild Xmas’ with a group of men. On New Year’s Day 1934 he went to the races in the company of four coalminers. Thirteen years later he told Ormond Wilson that he regretted his ‘wild and low life’ in Auckland. He gave lectures and broadcasts and met the Mulgans, Jane Mander, and Bob Lowry, who produced Lyttelton Harbour, his sonnet sequence. He also met Frank Sargeson, Robin Hyde and Roderick Finlayson who paid his current debts. In Wellington he met John A. Lee and Ormund Wilson. When he saw Gillie Stannage doing somersaults on a beach he fell in love again. In 1938 he returned to England where he wrote the second volume of his autobiography, published in 1939 by Cassell as Present Without Leave. In London he worked for the New Zealand Public Relations Council and forpage 441 two years was a regular broadcaster for the BBC.
On 3 December 1939 he told a correspondent that he was feeling extremely lonely. Raymond Wilson had been staying with him but had left. It left him feeling ‘nearly desolate’. Now he remarked that
I’m so very lonely these days. . . . And something tells me this is my destiny and this is what I have to face. I can see now I’ve been keeping off this terrifying fate by drinking and low company (during which I’ve been just as lonely really, only it hasn’t felt so – for the drug) but that without it, without facing this loneliness, I shall do nothing great as I have planned for myself almost since infancy. (Letters, 125)
In 1942 he told the same correspondent
I have been thro’ much trouble of heart lately, which makes me deeply sorry I haven’t amended many things before. And I am beginning to see what a monstrously selfish, self-centred is perhaps better, and misled life mine has been. . . . I begin to be ashamed of much in my two books of Autobiography, and their arrogantly anticipated claims for myself. (7 May 1942; Letters, 132).
When he returned to New Zealand in 1949, articles from a proposed third autobiographical volume appeared in the Listener but he resented the fact that the New Zealand Literary Fund would not give him an adequate grant and that, as well as public criticism, made him decide never to return to New Zealand again or to allow any of his books to be sold here.
In May 1950 he set sail again for England and was living in a cottage in St John’s Wood when, poverty-stricken and lonely, he informed Sargeson that ‘Every day I have found myself thinking of suicide, and hating the thought, for I do so want to live, and to succeed’. (Letters, 175; 4 July 1950). On 21 February 1960, after it was noticed that his newspapers had not been collected, his body was found inside the cottage. It was estimated that he had died on the previous day. The coroner concluded that his death from carbon monoxide poisoning from his oven was accidental. But this needs to be balanced against the fact that on 26 September 1950 he told Ormond Wilson that he considered ending his life in the oven and also that four days before he died he wrote an appendix to his will.
[Thomas] Allen [Munro] Curnow (1911-2001) was born in Timaru and educated at Christchurch Boys’ High School, Canterbury University College and Auckland University College. He trained for the Anglican ministry at St John’s College, Auckland, but decided against ordination and became a journalist, poet, critic and anthologist. His early poetry collections were Valley of Decision: Poems (Auckland: Auckland University College Students’ Association Press, 1933); (joint author) Another Argo: Three Poems . . . Aspects of monism, Restraint, The Wilderness (Christchurch: Caxton Club Press, 1935); Enemies: Poems 1934-36 (Christchurch: Caxton Club Press, 1937);page 442 Not in Narrow Seas: Poems with Prose (Christchurch: Caxton Club Press, 1939); Island and Time (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1941); (joint author with Fairburn, Glover and Mason) Recent Poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1941); and Sailing or Drowning: Poems (Wellington: Progressive Publishing Society, 1944). (The Progressive Publishing Society was an offshoot of socialist journalism and literature. It was founded in 1942 and produced the New Zealand New Writing series, which was modelled on John Lehmann’s Penguin New Writing.) Curnow’s other books were Poems; Jack Without Magic (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1946) and At Dead Low Water, and Sonnets (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1949). He also published several collections of light verse.
When he was working as a journalist for the Press he worked on A Book of New Zealand Verse, 1923-45 (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1945). While visiting Caxton one day he was shown by Baigent some poems of JKB’s which were destined to appear soon afterwards as Beyond the Palisade. Curnow was so impressed by them that he selected some for late inclusion in his anthology. In the same year his ‘Dunedin’ was dedicated ‘for James K. Baxter’ and published in Year Book of the Arts in New Zealand 1 (1945). In 1951 he became a lecturer in English at the University of Auckland and worked there until 1976.
He edited the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse for publication in 1960 but it was delayed after Alistair Campbell was given access to a copy of the galley proofs and informed Baxter and Johnson about Curnow’s editorial transgressions. Subsequently Campbell, Baxter and others wrote to the publishers threatening to withdraw their work because they did not want to appear to support what they considered to be the editor’s prescriptive regionalism. The anthology did not appear until 1962 and the mauling Curnow experienced at the hands of some New Zealand poets (resulting from his prescriptive theories, his exclusiveness, and his sometimes caustic writing) seems to have dissuaded him from editing any other anthology or even writing much literary criticism either by way of surveys or book reviews.
In 1972 Trees, Effigies, Moving Objects revealed that he had adopted new open form structures with an emphasis on colloquial idiom and the bush and beachscape of Auckland’s west coast. In An Incorrigible Music (1979) he merged different personalities and time periods to create a powerful poetic idiom almost entirely his own. When You Get There: Poems 1979-81 (1982) contained some exemplary short lyrics. In various collections he showed a continuous development as his interests and concepts of poetry changed. This development is evident in Early Days Yet, New and Collected Poems 1941-1997 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1997). He received the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry six times, a Commonwealth Prize in 1988 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1989. Like JKB he became one of the great poets of the century writing in English.page 443
Ruth Mumford (pen name Ruth Dallas, 1919-2008) was born in Invercargill and lived there until 1954 when she moved to Dunedin. Charles Brasch published some of her early poems in Landfall and supported her plan to move with her mother to Dunedin. While trying to find a suitable house in the city Brasch intervened to enable them to stay at Brighton in the home of JKB’s cousin Jack Baxter, just a block away from JKB’s parents. Ruth and her mother were invited by Millicent and Archie to view their garden. Ruth considered Millicent to be a lively, talkative host but found Archie ‘a quietly-spoken, watchful, emotional man’. She mentioned that when they called to say goodbye before leaving Brighton for Dunedin that his eyes filled with tears.
Her first collection of poetry was Country Road, and Other Poems 1947-52 (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1953), which fitted the poetic strategy enunciated by Curnow. It was followed by The Turning Wheel: Poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1961), which was joint winner of the New Zealand Literary Fund’s Award of Achievement, and Day Book: Poems of a Year (also by Caxton) in 1966. Her next Caxton collection (Shadow Show) followed in 1968 when she was Burns Fellow at the University of Otago, in succession to JKB. (She applied for the Fellowship in 1967 but JKB was awarded it for a second year.)
During the 1960s Dallas worked for Charles Brasch in the Landfall office in Dunedin. Her next collection was Walking on the Snow (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1976), which shared the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. In the same year Song for a Guitar and Other Songs was published in Dunedin by the University of Otago Press. Steps of the Sun: Poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1979), was followed by Collected Poems (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1987). Other publications included a second edition (with additional poems) of her Collected Poems in 2000, and The Joy of a Ming Vase (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2006). Her autobiography, Curved Horizon, was published in 1991. She wrote some very successful stories and novels for children. In 1989 her achievement was recognised when she was awarded the CBE.
Daniel (Dan) [Marcus] Davin (1913-90), novelist, was the author of Cliffs of Fall (1945), For the Rest of our Lives (1947), The Gorse Blooms Pale (short stories, 1947) and Roads from Home (1949). His stories present the lives of members of a poor Catholic family, like his own, who lived in Southland. He won a scholarship to Sacred Heart College, Auckland, where he became a friend of M.K. Joseph. After graduating from the University of Otago he won a Rhodes Scholarship which took him to Balliol College, Oxford, where he won a First.
During the war he fought with the British infantry. Wounded in action, he was awarded an MBE. Afterwards he took up a position with Oxford University Press and worked there from 1945 to 1978, becoming its editorpage 444 and then its academic publisher. From 1946 to 1953 he wrote Crete, the official war history.
He was distracted by many responsibilities, and the novels he wrote after the war, The Sullen Bell (1956), No Remittance (1959), Not Here, Not Now (1970) and Brides of Price (1975), suggested that he had not fulfilled his early promise. Based in England he was a hospitable presence and ambassador for New Zealand literature. Ill-health and depression marred his last years. His life is told in Keith Ovenden’s A Fighting Withdrawal: The Life of Dan Davin, Writer, Soldier, Publisher (1996).
Alfred Domett (1811-87), statesman and poet, was born in England. In 1841 he was called to the bar. Impulsively he sailed for Nelson on a New Zealand Company ship in 1842, entered public life and became Premier 1862-63. He returned to England in 1871 and in the following year his Ranolf and Amohia, a South Sea Day Dream was published. The tedious epic cast a romantic glance at Māori life and was completely at odds with the punitive actions he took against Māori in his life.
Basil [Cairns] Dowling (1910-2000) was born in Southbridge, Canterbury. He attended St Andrew’s College and in 1932 graduated in history from Canterbury University College. Then he studied for the Presbyterian ministry at Knox College, Dunedin. In 1936 he went to Britain to do a postgraduate course. After returning to New Zealand he was jailed for his pacifism during World War Two. He became a librarian at the Hocken Library, Dunedin, and then took up teaching English in England (1952-75) which remained his home. He was the author of A Day’s Journey: poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1941); Signs and Wonders: poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1944); Canterbury, and other poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1949); Hatherley: Recollective Lyrics (Dunedin: University of Otago, 1968); The Unreturning Native, and other poems (Christchurch: Nag’s Head Press, 1973); and The Stream: A Reverie of Boyhood (Christchurch: Nag’s Head Press, 1979).
Charles Desmond (‘Mike’) Doyle (1928-), poet, anthologist, was born in Ireland but grew up in London. After service in the Royal Navy he came to New Zealand in 1951. From 1961 to 1967 he lectured at the University of Auckland, then he moved to Canada. He is the author of nine collections of poetry, including his contribution (with JKB and Louis Johnson) to The Night Shift: Poems on Aspects of Love (Wellington: Capricorn Press, 1957). He contributed an assessment of JKB’s poetry ‘James K. Baxter: in quest of the just city’ to Ariel 5.3 (1974: 81-98), and was the author of James K. Baxter (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1976). He was also the author of a critical biography of R.A.K. Mason, for the Twayne series (New York, 1970), and he edited Recent Poetry in New Zealand (Auckland: Collins, 1965). His literary criticismpage 445 included Small Prophets and Quick Returns: Reflections on New Zealand Poetry (Auckland: Publishing Society, 1966). His literary interests also included the poetry of William Carlos Williams and he is the author of William Carlos Williams: the Critical Heritage (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980) and William Carlos Williams and the American Poem (London: Macmillan, 1982).
Marilyn Duckworth (1935- ) is a sister of Fleur Adcock. Her novels mirror her life, exploring the way in which relationships trap people. Her first novel, A Gap in the Spectrum (1959), was followed by A Matchbox House (1960) and A Barbarous Tongue (1963) which won the New Zealand Literary Fund Award for Achievement. After Over the Fence is Out (1969) she published no novel until Disorderly Conduct (1984), set in 1981 during the Springbok tour. This was followed by a stream of other important novels, most of which explored the predicaments of women who were wounded by their relationships and their own actions. In 1987 she was awarded the OBE.
Oliver Duff (1883-1967) was editor of the Press (1929-32) from which he resigned rather than defer to the political demands of his Board regarding a strike by tramwaymen. In 1938 he was appointed general editor of the surveys planned for the Centennial celebrations of 1940 and in the following year he became founding editor of the NZ Listener. Between 1946 and 1949, as ‘Sundowner’, he provided a column on country life. After his retirement in 1949 he continued ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’ for another sixteen years. His services to literature were recognised in 1959 when he was awarded the OBE. Holcroft said of him
Oliver Duff could handle a public issue firmly and directly, cutting away irrelevancy and going to the heart of an argument. Men who write in that way must have full and trained minds: they need also principles and loyalties to lead them towards the truth as they see it, and to support them in a crisis of conscience.’ (‘A Man of the Country’, A Voice in the Village, Holcroft, 284-5).
It was the final editorial republished in A Voice in the Village, so it is possible that King implicitly applied the verdict to Holcroft as well as Duff.
Eileen Duggan (1894-1972), poet, was born in Tuamarina, Marlborough, of Irish Catholic parents. At Victoria University College she won first-class honours in History in 1918. She also studied at the teachers’ college. In the year she graduated from university she taught at Dannevirke High School. She also taught History briefly at the university but ill-health compelled her to give up teaching. From then until her death she supported herself entirely by her writing, although she also received a small pension which was granted to her by the Government in 1942. Her life was impacted tragically by thepage 446 deaths of her beloved sister Evelyn in 1921 and her parents in 1923. She turned down two proposals of marriage on the grounds of frailty and ill health. This developed into an illness with Parkinson’s-like symptoms which afflicted her for the rest of her life.
She was the author of Poems (Dunedin, NZ Tablet, 1921); New Zealand Bird Songs (Wellington: Tombs, 1929); Poems (London: Allen & Unwin, 1937); and New Zealand Poems (London: Allen & Unwin, 1940). She deserves to be recognised as the first genuine New Zealand poet and was undoubtedly the first to earn an international reputation, particularly in England and the United States, but she was not well regarded by the emerging modernist poets Glover and Curnow, even though More Poems showed that she was capable of updating her literary techniques with a new freedom and austerity. (In Recent Trends in New Zealand Poetry, published in the same year, JKB wrote, ‘But, excepting Eileen Duggan, the poets writing in the Georgian tradition do not seem to have been able to breach this Chinese Wall and meet their country on its own terms.’) When JKB remarked in this review that ‘Like Ursula Bethell (the parallel is closer and more apt than many will care to admit) Eileen Duggan can bring all her powers to bear on a religious theme’ he was referring especially to Glover and Curnow who showed respect to Ursula Bethell (possibly in part because they were from Anglican backgrounds) but not to Eileen Duggan. Curnow bypassed her work in his 1945 anthology and its 1951 edition, even though he included poets whose work was much inferior to hers. He inaccurately diagnosed her work as entirely an ‘emotional cliché’. In return she refused to let him include any of her writing in his 1960 Penguin anthology – and not only because she disapproved of his selection. After 1951 she wrote no more poetry. Her later reputation suffered as a result of under-exposure. She died at Calvary Hospital, Wellington, on 12 December 1972, less than two months after the death of JKB. Frank McKay wrote a monograph of her in the Oxford series of New Zealand Poets (Eileen Duggan, Wellington, 1977) and her friend and companion Grace Burgess wrote a memoir (A Gentle Poet, Carterton, 1981). Her Selected Poems, edited by Peter Whiteford, was published by Victoria University Press, Wellington, in 1994.
George [Henry] Duggan (1912-2012) was a Catholic priest (ordained 7 March 1936) and member of the Society of Mary (also known as Marist Fathers). After earning an STD at the Angelicum in Rome Dr Duggan taught philosophy for fifteen years at Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Greenmeadows, Hawke’s Bay. He then became rector of Rochester Hall, a university hall of residence in Christchurch, and afterwards director of Marist tertianship at Mount St Mary’s. He is the author of Evolution and Philosophy (Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1949); Hans Kung and Reunion (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, [1964?]); Teilhardism and the Faith (Cork: Mercier, 1968);page 447 and Beyond Reasonable Doubt (Boston: Daughters of St Paul, 1987). He died at the age of one hundred on 16 December 2012.
Maurice Duggan (1922-74) was born in Auckland and attended Sacred Heart College. In 1942 the loss of his leg from osteomyelitis caused him to give up sports, which he enjoyed, and meant that he could not take part in the War. In 1944 Sargeson became his literary mentor but Duggan retained his own voice. He married in 1946. In 1950 he and his wife lived in London for two years. He tried to write a novel there and even though his efforts were unsuccessful he later dredged out of it some short stories, including ‘In Youth is Pleasure’, about a teacher’s cruelty to a pupil. It was based on his time at college. He and his wife returned to New Zealand in 1952. His stories of those years were included in Immanuel’s Land (1956) which was a success, as was his children’s book Falter Tom and the Water Boy (1957). In 1960 he was Burns Fellow. Summer in the Gravel Pit (1965) collected the best of his writing from 1957.
Needing to make a living he became a copywriter for the advertising firm J. Inglis Wright, eventually becoming creative director and joining the Board of Directors. He had a year off in 1966 while holding the Scholarship in Letters and wrote two stories which were included with a third in O’Leary’s Orchard (1970).
He resigned in December 1972 rather than accept a ruling that executives of the firm could not drink alcohol during the working day. As part of a detoxification programme at the Buchanan Clinic at Oakley Hospital he was given electroconvulsive therapy. Twenty years earlier he had attempted suicide and his depression was now so severe that it was feared he might do so again. After he discharged himself his condition became so bad that his wife Barbara had him committed to a mental hospital. He was allowed home leave but began drinking again and was picked up by two policemen and forcibly removed to Oakley where he was locked in an isolation cell.
He cooperated so well that he soon became a day patient. Then he drank again and was recommitted, this time for three weeks. He was released again and this time, in late 1973, a medical examination revealed that he had cancer of the bladder. But his condition was inoperable. Instead he had radiation therapy, which failed. On 24 June he began a course of chemotherapy. That didn’t work either. He returned to hospital on 10 December but died next morning. His Collected Stories was published in 1981, edited by C.K. Stead. In 1997 To Bed at Noon: The Life and Art of Maurice Duggan was published. It was written by Ian Richards.
[Arthur] Rex [Dugald] Fairburn (1904-57) was born in Auckland. He was descended from a pioneering missionary and farming family. His father worked for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and was a conservativepage 448 man who married an adventurous and unconventional woman named Teresa Harland. Rex attended Auckland Grammar School where he met R.A.K. Mason. He worked for an insurance company for six years before resigning in frustration. During the next four years he did a little freelance writing and had some poems published in local newspapers. Some of them were selected for Quentin Pope’s Kowhai Gold (1930).
In 1930, disillusioned with New Zealand, he went to England where his volume of Georgian poems He Shall Not Rise was published (London: Columbia Press, 1930). He became a social creditor and adopted beliefs based on nature vitalism. In 1931 he married Jocelyn Mays, a New Zealander attending the Slade School of Fine Art. When he returned to New Zealand in late 1932 he could not find work and became a relief worker chipping weeds from roads. In 1934 he became sub-editor of Farming First, a journal of the Farmers’ Union. The experience of unemployment contributed the powerful emotion to Dominion which he began writing in 1935. In the following year he sent it to Faber where T.S. Eliot liked it but turned it down. (It was published by Caxton in 1938.) He contributed poetry, articles and reviews to various periodicals and he associated with Frank Sargeson and the Auckland printer Robert Lowry.
In 1942 he was conscripted into the army but in the following year he was commandeered as a scriptwriter by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service. In 1947 he resigned and became a self-employed fabric printer. That year Bob Lowry’s Pelorus Press published his whimsical How to Ride a Bicycle in Seventeen Lovely Colours.
It was probably then that he wrote his prose diatribe ‘The Woman Problem’ (which was not published until 1967). In London he had attributed decadence in literature to homosexuality. The fact that he returned to that subject later brought his friendship with Sargeson under strain. Sargeson had an invalidity benefit which Joseph Heenan, secretary of internal affairs, allowed to be capitalised so that he could build a small house at Takapuna. Sargeson suggested to Fairburn that he apply to the Government for financial aid but Fairburn objected to Government intervention in the arts and also to the fact that a homosexual received money when he did not. Their correspondence subsequently became acrimonious.
In October 1949 Fairburn wrote the editorial for the first number of Here and Now; he was a regular contributor until 1952. One of his contributions was a column on current affairs (signed ‘Poaka’) called ‘Pig Island Chronicle’. (JKB may have remembered this when he called a late collection of poems Pig Island Letters.)
In June 1951 he was appointed vice president of PEN. When D’Arcy Cresswell wrote to PEN in 1952 asking for its support to his application for a pension Fairburn resigned, arguing that making grants to homosexuals who had no economic responsibilities for children would result in ‘a certainpage 449 distortion of the literary tradition’.
In 1948 he became a tutor in English at Auckland University College. In 1950 he was appointed a lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts. In 1952 Caxton published his short poems in Strange Rendezvous: Poems, 1929-41, with additions. In the same year his long poems ‘Dominion’, ‘The Voyage’ and ‘To a Friend in the Wilderness’ were collected as Three Poems (Wellington: New Zealand University Press). His anti-Savage lampoon The Sky is a Limpet (1939) so annoyed Peter Fraser, Savage’s successor as prime minister, that he intervened later to ensure that Fairburn did not get a teaching position he applied for in Fiji.
He was a scriptwriter for Radio 1ZB for four years and editor of Compost Magazine for five years. From 1945 to 1951 he was poetry editor of Year Book of the Arts in New Zealand.
On 1 October 1956 he was admitted to hospital; a carcinoma was discovered and removed by surgery. A course of three weeks’ radiation therapy followed which was completed in November. When he was discharged and returned to his home in Devonport it was said that hundreds of visitors called to see him. Among them was Ron Mason. The two had been out of contact for twenty years.
The day before he died Glover arrived to see him. But Jocelyn refused to let him go into the room where her wasted husband lay close to death. She realised that Glover would be undone by what he saw. So he passed the night sitting on the verandah steps close to his friend’s room, looking out over the water.
Douglas Robb the surgeon was allowed in that evening. He remembered ‘the dark room, nurse present, books in shelves up to the ceiling, all round, the thin bearded face and the lustreless eyes – so utterly unlike the boisterous lover of life whom we will remember.’ (Trussell, 291).
Fairburn died on 25 March 1957. A larger-than-life and very likeable man of wide-ranging interests and prejudices, he was greatly missed. In 1966 his collected poems were published by the Pegasus Press. Glover wrote the Foreword.
Roderick (Rod) [David] Finlayson (1904-92) grew up in Auckland but came in contact with Māori when he worked on an uncle’s farms in Glenbrook and the Bay of Plenty, where he became a member of the whānau of Hone Ngawhika, staying with the family for several summers. In 1933 he began writing stories on related themes and became a friend of D’Arcy Cresswell and Frank Sargeson. He married Ruth Evelyn Taylor in 1936 and they set up a home at Weymouth on the Manukau Harbour. A collection of his stories, Brown Man’s Burden, was published in 1938, followed in 1942 by the book JKB refers to, Sweet Beulah Land. Even though he wrote other books later, his best writing may be found in these two collections of stories about Māoripage 450 losing their culture and wellbeing after being overwhelmed by an oppressive Pākehā culture.
In 1945 he wrote to tell D’Arcy Cresswell that he was leaning towards the Catholic Church. Cresswell begged him to read Matthew Arnold’s Literature and Dogma and God and the Bible before doing so. ‘All the same, I don’t think the truest and purest Xtianity is to be found in the Church, even the Catholic Church, tho’ the Catholic is the truest.’ (Cresswell, Letters, 143; 30 Sep. 1945). But it did not happen immediately. On 4 ugust 1949 Cresswell wrote
Your going into the Church is a complete surprise to me. You certainly never wrote about going into Retreat at Hillsboro’ last March. I should have referred to the matter long ago if you had. It surprises me. To become a Catholic is a so much more determined position than to be born a Catholic. I shall be glad if it makes you happier, tho’ sorry if it removes you to a distance. (Letters, 158)
Between 1952 and 1960 the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education commissioned him to write stories for children and this allowed him to interact with JKB, who was his editor. Before and after JKB became a Catholic he confided in Finlayson. In 1954 JKB remarked in ‘Back to the Desert’ that in Sweet Beulah Land Finlayson ‘takes his notebook to the Māori tangi’.
Janet Frame (1924-2004) was born in Dunedin. The family shifted about because their father was a railway worker but in 1930 they settled in Oamaru. She was deeply affected by traumatic experiences of poverty, deaths of two sisters by drowning, and the epilepsy of a brother, yet she was also strengthened by her mother’s faith (she was a Christadelphian) and also by the fact that her mother loved writing. Janet decided to live in an imaginative world and inherited the numinous quality from her mother’s faith. After studying at Dunedin Teachers’ Training College and at university (1943-44) she became a teacher but she walked out of the classroom when the inspector called. Afterwards she worked as a housemaid and continued writing. Her first short story was published in the NZ Listener in 1946.
Episodes of mental illness caused her to enter Seacliff Mental Hospital in 1947. This was wrongly diagnosed as schizophrenia and she stayed eight years. She wrote stories and a selection was published in 1951 by Caxton Press as The Lagoon and Other Stories. (In April 1952 it was reviewed in the Listener by Frank Sargeson.) She had more than two hundred electroconvulsive therapy treatments and was due for lobotomy until her doctor became aware that she had been awarded the Hubert Church Memorial Award for the book.
Discharged in 1954 she lived with her sister’s family in Northcote forpage 451 a short time before Frank Sargeson invited her to stay in his army hut. She stayed there for fifteen months (1954-55) and during that time wrote Owls Do Cry (Pegasus, 1957). With a literary fund grant she travelled to London where a psychiatrist at the Maudsley Clinic declared that she was not schizophrenic. During those seven years in London she published Faces in the Water (1961), The Edge of the Alphabet (1962), and Scented Gardens for the Blind (1963). In 1963 she returned to New Zealand. In 1964 she received the Scholarship in Letters. In the following year she published The Adaptable Man. While Burns Fellow in 1965 she wrote The Rainbirds. This was followed in 1966 by A State of Siege and a book of stories. A collection of poetry, The Pocket Mirror, was published in 1967. From 1967 she received a number of American fellowships and lived there, producing Intensive Care (1970) and Daughter Buffalo (1972).
In 1972 she moved north of Auckland to Whangaroa Peninsula. In 1973 she altered her name to Clutha (although her authorial name continued to be Frame). In 1974 she was awarded the Menton Fellowship. Afterwards she returned to Glenfield (although she also lived in Whanganui, Shannon and Levin). Living in the Maniatoto was published in 1979, and her collection of stories You Are Now Entering the Human Heart in 1983. In 1989 she published The Carpathians. In 1997 she moved back to Dunedin.
Her autobiography was originally published in three volumes: To the Is-Land (1982), An Angel at my Table (1984) and The Envoy from Mirror City (1985). Jane Campion directed the film version An Angel at My Table (1990). Frame received numerous awards and fellowships.
Michael King’s biography Wrestling with the Angel (2000) deliberately excluded information available to him which would have been upsetting for her, thereby leaving a later biographer to wrestle with the topic of a biographer’s responsibility. JKB was a supporter of Janet Frame and Jacquie Baxter became a friend of hers.
[Helena] Ruth France (1913-68), librarian, novelist, poet. ‘Paul Henderson’ was her pseudonym. She was born at Leithfield in Canterbury and educated at Christchurch Girls’ School. Afterwards she worked in the public library. In 1934 she married Arnold France at the Registrar’s Office. On the previous evening her father feigned suicide because he disapproved of the fact that she was marrying a non-Catholic. For the next four years she and her husband lived on a yacht moored in Lyttelton Harbour. From there they often went sailing. Unwilling Pilgrim (1955) was followed by a second poetry collection The Halting-Place in 1961. She also published two novels; one of them, The Race (1958), won the Award for Achievement from the New Zealand Literary Fund. She was one of the writers whom JKB considered did not get the recognition her poetry deserved.page 452
Maurice Gee (1931- ), New Zealand novelist, short story writer and writer of children’s literature, was born in Whakatane and subsequently spent much of his childhood in the small town of Henderson. In 1954 he completed an MA at the University of Auckland. Afterwards he received a teaching position in Paeroa. In 1961 he received a grant from the New Zealand Literary Fund and spent a year teaching and writing in England. His writing renders an accurate and intricate account of life in New Zealand. The Big Season (1962) reflects his interest in rugby football, which, as a boy and young man, he played with skill and energy. During his year as Burns Fellow he wrote a book which was published as A Special Flower in 1964. It was followed by In My Father’s Den (1972) and a collection of short stories entitled A Glorious Morning, Comrade (1975). He wrote only two more stories before his Collected Stories were published in 1986. But he still wrote novels, namely Games of Chance (1976) and Plumb (his greatest work) in 1978. Plumb became the first novel in a trilogy covering three generations. Prowlers (1987) and The Burning Boy (1990) added to his reputation as a novelist of great skill and achievement. His 1993 novel Going West explored literary creativity. Five years later he was awarded the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the Montana Book Awards for his 1998 novel Vile Bodies. The excellence of his later novels The Scornful Moon (2004), Blindsight (2005) and the Salt trilogy was recognised by various awards. In 2004 he was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. A superb storyteller, Gee was also successful as a writer of children’s literature and in 2002 he was honoured by the Children’s Literature Foundation.
Noel Ginn (1915-2003), was a pacifist and friend of the young JKB. As an adolescent Ginn was an active member of a Methodist Bible Class and in the years leading up to World War Two he became a convinced pacifist. In fact he became one of the first members of the Christian Pacifist Society founded by Ormund Burton and A.C. Barrington. His heroes at that time were Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and St Francis of Assisi. At first he trained as an accountant but to his parents’ disappointment he abandoned his job at the Native Land Court in Auckland and enrolled for an arts degree at Victoria University College. In 1941 he was interned in Wellington for refusing to accept the call to serve in the army overseas. Later in the year he was sent to a detention camp at Strathmore, on the volcanic plateau south of Rotorua. Early in 1942 Terence Baxter arrived at the camp. That year they and others were transferred to Hautu detention centre, south of Turangi, where Noel and Terence became friends. Learning that Noel wrote poetry Terence told him that his younger brother James was also a poet. Noel was interested in literature but the only books made available to him in detention camp were a Bible and a hymn book. He was allowed no privileges and his first poems there were written on toilet paper. One of the factors which allowed him to survive detention camp was his correspondence with the young JKB.page 453
After he was released from detention late in 1945 he returned to his family home in Whanganui and became a horticulturalist there. Then he stopped writing. He was still there in 1966 when JKB, who was then an editor for School Publications branch of the Department of Education, asked him to write a journal entitled ‘The Market Garden’. Later Ginn lived in Australia before he retired in India. He eventually returned to New Zealand and began writing again at age eighty. In 1998 his book of poems Dweller on the Threshold was published in Wellington by Steele Roberts. His reflective Indian journals were published as A Kiwi in Kerala (Wellington, 2008), again by Steele Roberts. One of his late prose pieces declares his belief in enlightenment. It ends
... It is the place where authenticity resides and is where students make their discoveries; and when we know it and relocate there, we can survive any bewilderment or adversity without too much dismay, for it is the place of ultimate approval. He who cleaves to it leads a delightful and alluring life. It is the place where we ourselves fill with light, and in that light we can see through the form.
Let it speak for itself. What does it say? It says ‘All must return to me, into my light, for I come to you through time but am myself the timeless present. All that occurs takes place in me. Come,’ it says, ‘I am expecting you.’
Denis [James Matthews] Glover (1912-80), poet, printer and publisher, was not mentioned in JKB’s letters to Ginn partly because he (Glover) did not return from war service until early in 1945 – in time to design the cover for Beyond the Palisade which, although printed in 1944, did not go on sale until the following March. Glover was born in Dunedin. In 1931 he began studies at Canterbury University College and it was there, in 1932, that he founded the Caxton Club (with ten members) as part of a campaign to raise the standard of typography, book design and printing in New Zealand. In the following year, with assistance from Bob Lowry, the Auckland typographer and printer, Glover bought a hand-operated printing press and was given permission by the governing body of the university to house it in a basement under the law lecture room. The students’ association agreed to use the press to produce a new magazine edited by Ian Milner. The first issue of Oriflamme (published in April) had red covers to warn readers of its incendiary contents. Among them was an article which poked a stick into the hornet’s nest. Patrick Robertson’s ‘Sex and the Undergraduate’ advocated sex between unmarried couples as a substitute for celibacy. The cathedral city let the university know that this was too shocking to contemplate and the governing body summarily withdrew its approval of the Caxton Club. But Glover ate humble pie, the council relented and the single most important publisher of New Zealand literature was let loose. (Glover was determined to break the literary stranglehold of Charles Allan Marris (1876-1947).) Milner was also forgiven and inpage 454 the following year (1934) he was nominated by the university council for a Rhodes Scholarship. In 1934, when Glover was editor of Canta, he completed his BA in English and Greek. In the same year he and Milner edited New Poems, which included poems by Brasch, Curnow, Fairburn, Glover, Mason and five other poets.
In 1935, having decided to formalise his publishing programme, he established the Caxton Press. He and his partner John Drew bought a power operated press, set it up in a former coaching stable at 152 Peterborough Street (moving at the end of 1936 to 129 Victoria Street) and began producing books by Ursula Bethell, R.A.K. Mason, Allen Curnow, Charles Brasch, A.R.D. Fairburn, Frank Sargeson and Glover. (About 1937 Dennis Donovan and Leo Bensemann joined the firm.) In 1936 Glover became assistant lecturer in English. He resigned from the position in 1938 when he needed more time for Caxton work.
During World War Two he served in the Royal Navy and was awarded the DSC. After he returned to Christchurch The Wind and the Sand: Poems 1934-44 was published by the Caxton Press, where he resumed employment. But his life was in disarray. In 1936 he married Mary Granville but their marriage broke up in 1950, by which time he was drinking heavily, not turning up to work and using the firm’s money as his own. In 1951 the Caxton Press issued his Sings Harry but he was fired from there in November of that year. He was then taken on by his friend Albion Wright at the Pegasus Press at 82 Oxford Terrace but lost his job there in 1953 and, invited by Anton Vogt, moved to Wellington in 1954 with Khura Skelton, who was then living with him. Their relationship lasted until she died in 1960. The last years were drunken, angry, unhappy ones, and Monte Holcroft several times noticed bruises on her face ‘dark and ominous’.
The poems of To a Particular Woman (1970) and Diary to a Woman (1971) were written to Janet Paul, widow of Blackwood Paul, but she chose not to marry him. So in 1971 he married Gladys Evelyn (Lyn) Cameron. While living in Wellington he published a collection of poems on Wellington Harbour and Towards Banks Peninsula (1979). He died after a fall in 1980.
Denis Glover: selected poems was published in the following year. It was the last book on which he worked. Landlubber Ho!, a companion volume to his earlier autobiography Hot Water Sailor, also appeared that year.
He admired eccentricity and mentioned that his coterie of lady friends included a neighbourly woman who one evening entertained the Indian hockey team and on another the male cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Ian [Alistair] Gordon (1908-2004). Born in Edinburgh he studied at Edinburgh University where he graduated in English and classics before being appointed a junior lecturer. He worked for a time on the Scottish National Dictionary and then achieved a PhD at the university in 1936 page 455for his work on the poet John Skelton. He married May Fullarton and in 1936 was appointed professor of English at Victoria University College. (He held the position until 1974.) He was vice-chancellor of the University of New Zealand (1947-52) and chairman of the New Zealand Literary Fund Advisory Committee (1951-73). He edited New Zealand New Writing (1942-45) and became a Mansfield scholar. After he retired he wrote a popular column on language for the NZ Listener. He published more than twenty books on his fields of interest, some about words and their usage, but made his name among scholars with the publication of The Movement of English Prose (1966), his survey of English prose from the 9th to the 20th centuries. He was appointed emeritus professor of English at Victoria University and received other awards and distinctions. In 2003 the university set up the Ian A. Gordon Trust to administer a gift of half a million dollars which he made to the university to support the study of English language and linguistics there. The Ian Gordon Fellowship Lectures were established in his honour. He died at the age of 96.
Rowley Habib (1933- ) born in the Taupo region, was of Lebanese and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent. From 1954 onwards he wrote and published prose and poetry. In 1967 he founded Te Ika a Māui, a theatre company, which toured New Zealand for three years with his play Death of the Land. He has written and produced plays and documentary programmes for stage, radio and television, and was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship. He has also won the Māori Affairs Writers’ Award and the Feltex Award for the Best Television Script. He retired to Te Hikuwai, Taupo, but kept on writing.
William Hart-Smith (1911-90). His family emigrated to New Zealand in 1924. In 1936 he moved to Australia where he worked for commercial radio and then for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He became a member of the Jindyworobak Movement, which promoted the use of indigenous material in poetry. In 1946 he returned to New Zealand in the company of a woman who left him spectacularly in Christchurch. Afterwards he worked in adult education in South Canterbury.
Christopher Columbus: A Sequence of Poems was published in Christchurch by Caxton Press in 1948. Another verse collection, On the Level: mostly Canterbury poems was self-published in Timaru in 1950. Poems in Doggerel: some South Canterbury riverbed reflections (from a completed sequence) was published in Wellington by the Handcraft Press in 1955.
Hart-Smith returned to Australia and was awarded the Australian Literary Society’s gold medal in 1960 for Poems of Discovery (1959). He returned to New Zealand and then to Australia again in 1962. He became president of the Poetry Society of Australia in 1963-64 and in 1966 won the Grace page 456Leven Prize for The Talking Clothes (1966). He moved to Auckland in 1978 and even though he lived in the Auckland region until his death he was awarded two major Australian prizes, the Christopher Brennan Prize (1985) for Selected Poems, 1936-1984, and the Patrick White Award (1987). He died in Whangaparaoa in 1990. Of his trans-Tasman journeys in pursuit of one woman or another he said once that only the poetry mattered, ‘The rest is just messing around.’
J[ohn] R[ussell] Hervey (1889-1958), clergyman and poet, was born in Invercargill and educated in Christchurch. In 1915 he married Ethel Choat. In the following year he was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church. He worked mainly in Christchurch and in Canterbury rural parishes until his retirement from active ministry in 1934. From then on he began publishing poetry and came into prominence in 1940 when he was awarded joint first prize for a short poem in the 1940 Centennial Literary Competition. His Selected Poems (Christchurch, Caxton Press) was published that year. He was also the author of Selected Poems (1940), New Poems (1942), Man on a Raft (1949), and She Was My Spring (1954), all published in Christchurch by the Caxton Press.
Noel Hilliard (1929-97) was a novelist, short story writer and journalist. The poverty he endured in childhood and youth contributed to his lifelong commitment to socialism. He became a journalist for Southern Cross and attended Victoria University College part-time between 1946 and 1950. Then he became a teacher. He married Kiriwai Mete, who was introduced to him by Hone Tuwhare. His socialist interests and race concerns merged in his 1960 novel Maori Girl. (The sight of ‘No Maoris’ attached to job advertisements in Wellington added to the feeling in the novel.) He worked for the NZ Listener 1965-70, was Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 1971 and later worked for the Evening Post. In Here and Now he reviewed Curnow’s A Book of New Zealand Verse, 1923-45, which excluded Māori poetry, under the heading ‘Jim Crow Verse Book’. (Curnow subsequently included some Māori poetry in his 1960 Penguin anthology.) Hilliard wrote other novels and stories which presented the predicament of Māori, including A Piece of Land: Stories and Sketches (1963) and Power of Joy (1965). The latter, with Maori Woman (1974) and The Glory and the Dream (1978), extended Maori Girl into a tetralogy. His books were very favourably received in the Soviet Union and were translated into Russian.
Te Rangi Hiroa/Sir Peter Henry Buck (1877?-1951) was a pupil at Te Aute College. In 1890 he attended the medical school at Otago University College where he completed an MB and ChB in 1904. In the following year he married Margaret Wilson and began work as a doctor in the North Island. page 457 He spent a term in parliament and served in World War One as a medical officer with a contingent of Māori volunteers. He was awarded a DSO for bravery. After the war he became chief medical officer for Māori and in 1921 was appointed to the Department of Health. Later he returned to the medical school at Otago University. After becoming more interested in anthropology than health he became a visiting fellow at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, and then held a visiting professorship at Yale (1932-34), before becoming director of the Bishop Museum. His time in the United States resulted in many distinctions. In New Zealand he was knighted in 1946. He is the author of at least twenty publications on the origins and culture of Māori and the people of the Pacific Islands.
Montague (Monte) [Harry] Holcroft (1902-93) was taught lessons in Christianity on Sundays in the school hall at St Mary’s Merivale, Christchurch, where one of his teachers was Ursula Bethell. In 1915 when his father told him that his business had failed he left Christchurch Boys’ High School. He then took a job as office-boy in Aulsebrooks biscuit and lolly factory but within a few months his mother died. Wanting to see the world, he travelled to Australia in 1921, where he found work in an office of the Sydney dockyard. He married in Sydney, two days short of his twenty-first birthday, and soon afterwards began submitting stories to newspapers and journals with considerable success. For twenty years he found desultory employment in New Zealand, Australia and England, and struggled to have his novels and non-fiction published. Leaving his first wife in Australia he married for a second time in 1931, this time in Wellington. Back in Christchurch his literary articles in the Press gained him the support of John Schroder, the literary editor, and a small appreciative following which included Ursula Bethell, Denis Glover and Allen Curnow. A breakthrough came in 1936 when he was appointed leader writer for the Southland Times. He became acting editor in 1942 and then editor in 1946. But his real breakthrough occurred in 1940 when he was awarded a centennial prize for his essay, an exploration of creativity, The Deepening Stream (1940). He considered this theme further in The Waiting Hills (1943) and Encircling Seas (1946). In June 1949 he left his second wife in Invercargill and became editor of the NZ Listener, and his appreciation of JKB explains why there are so many contributions from him (especially book reviews) in the Listener’s pages. He retired from the Listener in 1967 but was recalled as acting editor (1972-73). His other books included Timeless World (1945), Discovered Isles (1950), The Eye of the Lizard (Listener editorials, 1960), New Zealand (1963), Islands of Innocence (1964), Graceless Islanders (more Listener editorials, 1970), The Shaping of New Zealand (1974), Mary Ursula Bethell (biography, 1974), Dance of the Seasons (autobiography, 1952), Reluctant Editor (1969), The Way of a Writer (1984) and A Sea of Words (1986). Hispage 458 most personal writing is in The Grieving Time (1989) which was occasioned by the death of Lorna, his third wife. In that year Michael King edited A Voice in the Village; the Listener editorials of M.H. Holcroft (Hamilton: Silver Fern Books). JKB dedicated his poem ‘New Zealand’ to Holcroft (CP 275). It was first drafted in 1960 but completed in 1963, the year that Holcroft published his book with the same title.
Sam Hunt (1946- ), poet and friend of JKB, was born in Auckland and educated at St Peter’s College (1958-63) where he says he was punished for quoting in class a poem by JKB which contained sexual imagery. In his last year there he was taught by the poet Ken Arvidson. After leaving school he hitchhiked to Wellington and turned up at the home of Alistair Campbell, whose poetry he liked. He attended university in Auckland and Wellington and became a friend of Gary McCormick. He drove trucks and attended training college before deciding in 1960 to become a poet. Until 1997 he lived in various boatsheds and a farmhouse near a Wellington estuary before leaving for Waiheke Island in 1997. He had a serious drinking problem but overcame it in the late 1980s. Hunt’s collections of poetry have had mixed reviews from critics but as a performance poet he has single-handedly made poetry an event which numerous New Zealanders have come to enjoy. In 2009, Auckland University Press published his James K. Baxter Poems, which he selected and introduced.
Robin Hyde (real name Iris Wilkinson, 1906-39), was born in South Africa and came to New Zealand as a baby. After leaving Wellington Girls’ College she studied at Victoria University College for a short time before becoming ‘Aunt Mary’ on the children’s page of the Farmers’ Advocate. She then worked for the Dominion until April 1926 when she resigned after she became pregnant. She then went to Sydney where her baby son died. She had a breakdown and was hospitalised at Queen Mary Hospital, Hanmer. She began publishing poetry over the signature ‘Robin Hyde’ and intended to return to journalism. Her mentor and correspondent was J.H.E. Schroder of the Christchurch Sun. She did freelance journalism until moving to Whanganui as lady editor of the Chronicle. In 1930 she again became pregnant and moved to the South Island and then to Wellington to conceal the fact. After recovering she was appointed lady editor at Auckland’s New Zealand Observer. Stressed by personal and financial factors and from the demands of work, she attempted suicide in 1933 before becoming a voluntary inmate of Auckland Mental Hospital. Free of the demands of journalism she then wrote prolifically: Check to Your King (1936), Passport to Hell (1936) and Wednesday’s Children (1937). In 1935 she published The Conquerors and Other Poems, her second collection. Other poetry collections followed. In 1937 she finished writing Nor the Years Condemn, set in New Zealand in the years between the worldpage 459 wars. In 1938 she left New Zealand, deciding during a stop in Hong Kong (where she met James Bertram) to travel to China, which was at war with Japan. There she was viciously attacked by Japanese soldiers. She survived and made her way to England where she lived in a caravan in Kent and then in London boarding houses. The Godwits Fly was published at that time and she hoped to make money from a stage version of Wednesday’s Children but this did not happen. She was hospitalised and then recuperated at Charles Brasch’s residence near London. She hoped that he would comfort her but, he confessed later, ‘physically she repelled me’. He offered her a ‘friendship only’ relationship but she felt rejected and slashed her arm with his razor-blade. She lost a lot of blood and abused him. Then she left. Dragon Rampant (1939) was well received by reviewers but she still had money difficulties. At that time she was working on poems which were subsequently published as Houses by the Sea (1952). She was desperate to return to New Zealand and John A. Lee was arranging Government assistance to pay her fare home when she took her life by benzedrine poisoning.
Kevin [Mark] Ireland (born Kevin Jowsey, 1933- ), poet and prose writer, grew up in Takapuna and lived for a time in the army hut owned by Frank Sargeson where Janet Frame had once lived. While in Auckland he was a co-founder of Mate but he shifted to England in 1959, staying there until 1984, and working mainly for The Times. His poetry collections were published in New Zealand: Face to Face: Twenty-Four Poems (1963); Educating the Body (1967); A Letter from Amsterdam (1972); Orchids, Hummingbirds and Other Poems (1974), in which ‘A Way of Sorrow’ lamented the fact that he had to grieve alone over JKB’s death; A Grammar of Dreams (1975); and Literary Cartoons (1977), which won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. Five more collections of poetry followed before he returned to live in New Zealand. Oxford University Press celebrated his achievement with an edition of his Selected Poems in 1987. A further selection was published, Anzac Day: Selected Poems (1997), and some prose. After he returned to New Zealand he received various honours, including the OBE for services to literature.
Louis [Albert] Johnson (1924-88), poet and supporter of developing poets, became one of JKB’s closest friends virtually as soon as JKB moved to Wellington in 1948-49. By this time his Stanza and Scene: Poems (Wellington: Handcraft Press, 1945) had been published. He attended Wellington Teachers’ Training College from 1950 and taught for a few years afterwards. His books from this period were The Sun among the Ruins (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1951); Roughshod among the Lilies (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1951); Poems Unpleasant (with JKB and Anton Vogt, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1952); The Dark Glass (Wellington: Handcraft Press, 1955); News of Molly Bloom; The Passionate Man and the Casual Man: Two Poems (Christchurch: Pegasuspage 460 Press, 1955); and The Night Shift (with JKB, Charles Doyle and Kendrick Smithyman, Wellington: Capricorn Press, 1957). He worked as a journalist for some years and became widely known because of his editorship of New Zealand Poetry Yearbook from 1951 to 1964 and of Numbers from 1954 to 1960. (Johnson founded NZPY to close the gap which opened when the Arts Year Book closed in 1951.) A hospitable editor, he used these journals to counter the tight, prescriptive poetic regimes of Curnow and Brasch and was happy to engage in controversy, especially with Curnow. In 1963 he joined JKB and Alistair Campbell at the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education. In 1968 he moved to Papua New Guinea and then went to Australia where he remained until 1980. In 1976 he was awarded the Montana New Zealand Book Award for Poetry and in 1987 his services to literature were recognised when he was awarded an OBE. In the last year of his life he held the Katherine Mansfield memorial fellowship at Menton, France, and in the year after his death his fostering of new writers was recognised when the Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary was established by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand. He published sixteen collections of poetry and the best of his poems were included by Terry Sturm in Selected Poems (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2000). JKB dedicated ‘The Muse’ to Johnson (CP 352).
M[ichael] K[enemy] Joseph (1914-81), poet and novelist, went from Sacred Heart College, Auckland, to Auckland University College in 1931. In 1934 he graduated with a first-class degree in English before transferring to Merton College, Oxford. His military service during World War Two became the focus of I’ll Soldier No More: a Novel (London: Glance, 1958). In 1946 he returned to Auckland University College as a lecturer in English. Even though he had a heavy teaching programme he found time for writing and during the ensuing years he produced Imaginary Islands: Poems (Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1950); I’ll Soldier No More [a novel] (London: Glance, 1958); The Living Countries: Poems (Hamilton: Paul’s Book Arcade, 1959); A Pound of Saffron [a novel] (London: Glance, 1962); Byron, the Poet (London: Glance, 1964); Inscription on a Paper Dart: Selected Poems, 1945-72 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1974); and his novel A Soldier’s Tale (Auckland: Collins, 1976), as well as such works of science fiction as The Hole in the Zero (Auckland: Blackwood & Janet Paul, 1967). One of his greatest achievements was helping to keep the peace among the rumbunctious staff members in the Department of English at the University of Auckland.
Rodney [Eric] Kennedy (1909-89), drama tutor, art critic and advocate, became Toss Wollaston’s lover soon after he met him in 1932. When Woollaston moved to Nelson, Kennedy spent summers there with Woollaston and his wife Edith. When he refused to respond to a military call-up he waspage 461 detained at Strathmore and Shannon Camps, where he came to know JKB’s brother Terence. After his release he returned to Dunedin and lived in Bath Street where JKB and Colin McCahon also lived. Then he became a friend of Charles Brasch and lived with him for a time. In 1948 he was appointed a drama tutor at Otago University, retiring from the university in 1971. He succeeded Patric Carey as director of the Globe Theatre, presumably in 1973. During his life he retained his interest in painting and remained an important art critic and influence.
Michael King (1945-2004), historian and writer, attended Sacred Heart College, Auckland, and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream (Heretaunga), before enrolling at Victoria University of Wellington where he graduated with a BA in 1967. After completing an MA at Waikato University in 1968 he worked in Hamilton from 1968 to 1971 as a journalist for the Waikato Times. He married Ros Henry in 1967 and became the father of two children. Between 1971 and 1974 he taught journalism at Wellington Polytechnic but in 1976 decided to become a fulltime researcher and writer. In preparation for this he completed a PhD at Waikato University in 1978. His decision to write fulltime was not an easy one for the father of a family – his income was usually short-term and uncertain. During the 1980s and 1990s he held successive fellowships at Auckland, Victoria and Otago universities. His books included well-received biographies of Te Puea Herangi, Whina Cooper, Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame. His historical works included Being Pakeha (1985), Moriori (1989) and the widely acclaimed and hugely popular Penguin History of New Zealand (2003). Some Māori criticised him for writing about Māori topics even though he was not Māori. He shrugged off the criticism, replying, ‘. . . if Pākehā were not writing about Māori history then it would not be written about at all.’ He became divorced in 1977 and ten years later married Maria Jungowska. In 1993 they moved to Opoutere on the Coromandel Peninsula. They died in a car accident in 2004. King’s achievement was recognised in his lifetime by many awards, fellowships and distinctions. He received the OBE in 1988, an honorary doctorate from Victoria University in 1997, and in 2003 was the joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.
Hilaire Kirkland (1941-75) was the author of 8 Poems (London: Flowering Hand Press, 1967) and a book published posthumously, Blood Clear and Apple-Red: poems (Wellington: Wai-te-ata Press, 1981). Her poetry was highly regarded and she was a popular presenter of her poems at public readings. Her poetry is represented in The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, edited by Ian Wedde and Harvey McQueen (Auckland: Penguin Books, 1987). She died in Auckland at the age of thirty-four.page 462
Eve Langley (1904-74) (born Ethel Jane Langley) poet and novelist, was born in New South Wales. In the 1920s she and a sister called themselves ‘Steve’ and ‘Blue’ and dressed in men’s clothes while they did seasonal work. Eve moved from Australia to Auckland in 1932 and three years later had a child who died. In 1937 she married Hilary Clark, an artist. They had three children who were named Basic Ariel, Langley Hailey and Karl Marx. By 1940 she had established a reputation in New Zealand as a poet. In 1942 her novel The Pea-Pickers was well received by critics and awarded the S.H. Prior Memorial Prize. It was based on the seasonal work done by Steve and Blue. Financial and marriage problems resulted in a breakdown that year and her husband had her committed to Auckland Mental Hospital. After her release in 1949 she worked until 1955 as a book repairer for the Auckland Public Library. (She was divorced in 1951.) Then she visited Australia and England before settling in Australia where she became increasingly eccentric, including wearing men’s clothes (a pinstripe suit in winter and shorts and a singlet in summer) with a knife tucked in her belt. In 1954 she changed her name by deed poll to Oscar Wilde because she felt that he was her alter ego. She lived alone in the Blue Mountains and became even more reclusive with the result that her body was not found until about three weeks after her death. She left two published and ten unpublished novels. Much of her writing was done on brown paper and empty Weetbix packets. Her biography, by Joy Thwaite, was published in 1989.
Patrick [Pat] Lawlor (1893-1979), son of an Irish Catholic bookseller and stationer, became a copywriter at Wellington’s Evening Post in 1911 and then spent time at the Dominion and as a journalist in Sydney and Melbourne. He became chief reporter for the Hawke’s Bay Herald in 1916 but returned to Wellington in 1917 to work for the New Zealand Times. In 1920 he became chief subeditor of New Zealand Truth. In 1926 he founded the New Zealand Artist’s Annual which survived until 1932. (In 1930 he turned down a poem from Mason because he considered that it would shock the reader and an analysis of the New Zealand literary scene because he disagreed with its sentiments.) He and Dick Harris collaborated in Maori Tales (1926), paraphrases of legends he had collected. After Harris committed suicide in 1927 Lawlor edited The Poetry of Dick Harris. Still More Maori Tales was published in 1930. He founded the New Zealand centre of PEN in 1934 and initiated New Zealand Author’s Week in 1936.
He published two unsuccessful novels, The House of Templemore (1938) and Daniel Mahoney’s Secret (1939). His Confessions of a Journalist (1935) and Books and Bookmen: New Zealand and Overseas (1954) preserved some interesting information about people. He wrote a column, part review, part news, part gossip, for the New Zealand Railways Magazine (1926-40).
In 1947 he was able to indulge his wish to be a bookman when the New Zealand Literary Fund was established and he was appointed secretary ofpage 463 the Literary Fund Advisory Committee, retaining the position until 1955. Besides Lawlor the committee comprised Sir James Elliott, a surgeon and biographer, Ian Gordon, professor of English at Victoria University College, Dr Guy Scholefield, parliamentary librarian, O.N. Gillespie, a journalist, J.H.E. Schroder of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service, P. Te H. Jones, a writer and translator, Ngaio Marsh, crime fiction writer and drama producer, Ormund Wilson, a member of parliament, and Mary McKenzie, a neighbour of Walter Nash, the minister of finance.
Lawlor was offended by some of Sargeson’s settings and characters and in 1940 accused him of ‘peering into the sanitary trap’. (King, Sargeson, 296). (His opinion was later supported by J.C. Reid, another Catholic, who despised Sargeson’s ‘narrow world of perverts’.) In 1953 Sargeson told a correspondent that ‘Nobody could be more stupid than Lawlor’, who had opposed two applications for grants to assist the production of his (Sargeson’s) writing. He considered the committee a ‘bunch of ratbags’. Glover and Mason had disagreements with Lawlor, but remained ostensibly friendly with him. During this time New Zealand literature was in the hands of journalists and bookmen like him, but before long the universities and academics took over their role. The flavour of Lawlor’s activities is found in his Confessions of a Journalist (Wellington: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1935). Between 1945 and 1975 he wrote several books with a Catholic interest and between 1955 and 1969 he produced a number of books about Wellington.
Owen Leeming (1930-) was born in Christchurch and attended St Bede’s College. After studying French and music at Canterbury University College he travelled to France to study composition but became interested in poetry instead. In 1972 he held the Mansfield Prize, which entitled him to live and write at Menton, France. His poetry collection Venus is Setting was published by the Caxton Press that year. He worked in broadcasting (London, Australia and New Zealand) for years, especially as a drama producer. In the context of his review of JKB’s The Rock Woman it should be noted that he rejected Catholicism and declared himself an atheist. His long poem ‘The Priests of Serrabonne’ is probably his best-known piece of writing.
Robert [William] Lowry (1912-63) was in the same class as Denis Glover at Auckland Grammar School and in 1927 came second to him in English in the top fourth form. He came first in New Zealand in the Lizzie Rathbone Scholarship and in 1931 entered Auckland University College. In 1932 he became typographer and business manager for Phoenix, a journal of the students’ association, two numbers of which were edited by James Bertram in 1932. In the following year the two numbers edited by Mason were, according to Glover, ‘ramping red’. It folded after being denounced by Truth. Lowry was printer of all the issues. In 1933 he printed and published Curnow’s firstpage 464 book of poetry, Valley of Decision. By 1934 Lowry was still at university even though he had been suspended for a year because of his socialist publications. He was also arrested at a gathering of the Free Speech Council and put on probation for two years. During his suspension he went to Christchurch for a short time, helping Glover establish the Caxton Press. Back in Auckland he and Mason founded the Unicorn Press which printed Mason’s No New Thing: Poems 1924-29 (1934). After falling out with Mason he entered into a loose partnership with Ronald Holloway and they collaborated to produce Sargeson’s first book, Conversations with my Uncle, D’Arcy Cresswell’s Lyttelton Harbour (1936) and Roderick Finlayson’s Brown Man’s Burden (1938). In July 1938 Lowry assigned the plant to Holloway to recompense him for debts he had incurred. Other ventures followed until 1940 when he entered Auckland Teachers’ College for two years. He probably did this because in 1936 he married Irene Cormes and the birth of children meant that he needed a more secure source of income. Between 1942 and 1944 he served in the army as a printer, being responsible for Kiwi News, which was printed in Noumea. In 1945 he founded the Pelorus Press and simultaneously began teaching typography at Seddon Memorial Technical College. He gave up teaching in 1947 to concentrate on printing and design. This included the production of Here and Now (1949-57), which required a lot of his time and energy. In 1953, because of debts, he abandoned the Pelorus Press to his financial partners. He then joined the Pilgrim Press (1954-61), formerly run by Ronald Holloway. In time that also failed. Lowry subsequently began the Wakefield Press but it survived only briefly. In 1961 and 1962 he did odd printing jobs and worked for a time at the Auckland Star as a proof-reader.
Lowry was a heavy drinker and JKB admitted later that in 1955 he and Lowry once got drunk together in a campaign that lasted for very nearly a fortnight: ‘We were stuck at the bar like two octopuses in an aquarium.’ Bob and Irene Lowry lived at 32 Gladwin Road, on the western slope of One Tree Hill. According to McKay
Lowry lived in a fine old house on the slopes of One Tree Hill which had belonged to Colonel Wynyard, sometime Superintendent of the Auckland Province and acting governor of New Zealand. Part of its colonial charm was a large ballroom with French windows opening on to a large patio. Outside were large old oaks, a plum tree, and wisteria. The romantic and spacious setting was ideal for the rollicking good parties that were famous in Auckland in the early fifties. They usually began in the ballroom on Saturday night, and as people flaked out they simply stayed since there was no shortage of accommodation. Lowry kept virtually open house for printers, writers, painters, and musicians, and for the Auckland intelligentsia. There was much good talk, well oiled by half-gallon jars of red wine from the Henderson vineyards. In the background the strains of Brahms or Beethoven, the Lowry’s favourite music, issued from their windup gramophone. (p. 143)
Lowry was unpredictable when drunk. When someone phoned to complain about the din from one of his exuberant parties (to which Glover contributed) he ripped his own phone from the wall.
On one occasion when the usual Saturday gathering was to be held Lowry found that he would have to be somewhere else, so he left a note on the wall of the Queen’s Ferry Hotel saying that the party would still be held even though he was absent. Strangers accepted the invitation and when he returned he found that windows had been smashed, a washbasin had been pulled from the wall, and the house was a mess. At one of his last wild parties Maurice Duggan was talking in a group when someone hit him in the face, splitting his lip. An all-in followed with Duggan playing his part.
When Pilgrim Press failed and Lowry again came close to bankruptcy his wife left him and some of his literary friends also abandoned him out of sympathy for her and their children. Depressed, he drank even more and his health suffered further. Two alcoholics moved into his house to keep him company. One of them took a cup of tea to him next morning where he was sitting in a chair and found him dead. On either 6 or 7 December he had committed suicide by an overdose of sleeping pills. He was just fifty-one years old. A note alongside him asked his family for forgiveness. He was buried at Waikumete Cemetery. Glover, who gave the tribute, was obviously shaken. JKB was also deeply saddened. His last poem in Pig Island Letters was an elegy for Lowry. It closes the volume like a knell.
Eric [Hall] McCormick (1906-95) was born in Taihape in 1906 and educated at Victoria University College where he wrote an MA thesis ‘Literature in New Zealand’. At Clare College, Cambridge, he studied under F.R. Leavis. He returned to New Zealand in 1933 and became a librarian at the Hocken Library before gaining a position in the national archives. He became editor of the centennial publications in 1939-40. His Letters and Art in New Zealand (1940) was one of the series and a version of his earlier thesis. He was sent to Egypt as an infantryman in 1941 and then became a medical corpsman but was eager to avoid fighting and wrote to Joe Heenan asking if he could set up military archives. (Joseph (Joe) Heenan was born in 1888, son of a Greymouth gold miner. He became a public servant in 1906, reluctantly accepted in the Department of Internal Affairs after the intervention of Sir Joseph Ward, a fellow Catholic. He completed a law degree after attending evening classes at Victoria University College. In April 1935 he was appointed Under-Secretary of Internal Affairs. Afterwards his cheerful manner and racing interests guaranteed that he became a favourite in ministerial circles. According to Michael Bassett his interest in literature meant that the war histories became possible.) McCormick’s suggestion was accepted and this became the beginning of the war histories. In 1944 he was appointed chief war archivist and returned to New Zealand, where hepage 466 prepared for the production of the war histories. In 1947 after Major-General Kippenberger was appointed editor in chief McCormick took up a position as senior lecturer in English at Auckland University College. During his second year he was appointed editor of university publications, a part-time, unpaid position. Finding that he did not have enough time to do the research which was his priority he resigned from lecturing in 1950 and received a two-year appointment as a senior research fellow from the University of New Zealand. During that time he stayed on as editor of the university publications but in 1952 he left to become a fulltime writer. (He was succeeded by M.K. Joseph.)
He became a visiting fellow in Commonwealth literature at the University of Leeds then editor of Auckland University Press but early in 1965 he left the position for a second time because he again found that it did not leave him time for research.
McCormick wrote The Expatriate, a study of Frances Hodgkins (Wellington: New Zealand University Press, 1954), and The Friend of Keats: a Life of Charles Armitage Brown (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1984). He also left a memoir The Inland Eye (1959) which he subtitled A Sketch in Visual Autobiography. For many readers his most important book is New Zealand Literature: a Survey (London: Oxford University Press, 1959), his revised version of his 1940 publication Letters and Art in New Zealand.
Jessie Mackay (1864-1938), poet, activist and Scottish nationalist. Born in a sod hut in the Rakaia Gorge she became a much-loved poet, journalist, Celtic patriot and social reformer. She was a teacher for a time but took up journalism after ill-health forced her to give up teaching. In 1889 her first collection of poetry was published, The Spirit of the Rangatira: and Other Ballads (Melbourne: Robertson, 1889). In its Preface she hoped for ‘a dawning of the national spirit in New Zealand’. Her second book, The Sitter on the Rail was published in 1891. It was followed by New Zealand Rhymes Old and New (Wellington: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1900); From the Maori Sea (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1908); Land of the Morning (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1909); The Bride of the Rivers & Other Verses (Christchurch: Simpson & Williams, 1926); and Vigil (Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1935).
She was a staunch and tireless social activist in the fields of penal reform, suffrage, women’s rights, vivisection, alcoholism, blood sports and the rights of indigenous people. In her memory PEN established the Jessie Mackay Memorial Award for Verse. It is still awarded.
Francis [Michael] McKay (1920-91) was born in Dunedin on 12 May 1920 and educated at St Thomas’s Academy and St Kevin’s College, Oamaru. He studied at Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Greenmeadows, and was professed as a member of the Society of Mary (Marists) on 2 February 1942. He was ordained a priest on 12 December 1948. In 1949 he joined the staff of St Patrick’spage 467 College, Wellington, and began studying part-time at Victoria University. He remained at St Pat’s for fourteen years, teaching mainly English, French and religious studies. He also completed a Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University College and a Master of Arts. In 1962 he left for Cambridge University where he completed a doctorate of philosophy in English. In 1966 he joined the staff of Victoria University as a lecturer in English. In the 1970s he and Dr John Thomson founded the New Zealand Literature course there. After JKB’s death in 1972 Jacquie asked him to write the authorised biography. During the next ten years he researched the project thoroughly, talking to hundreds of people and collecting many reminiscences.
He edited Poetry New Zealand (a successor to Louis Johnson’s New Zealand Poetry Yearbook) from 1972 to 1982, and edited the first (1983) and third (1985) issues of The Journal of New Zealand Literature. (In 1996, no. 13 was devoted to JKB.) McKay also edited a small selection of JKB’s prose, James K. Baxter as Critic, and published a study of Eileen Duggan. Once, a collection of his poetry, was published by Wai-te-ata Press in 1985.
He retired from Victoria University in 1985 as associate professor and in 1990 was working for the Society of Mary in Rome when he became ill and returned to New Zealand. The Life of James K. Baxter, to which he had devoted a great deal of scholarship and energy, was published in 1990. In the following year it won the New Zealand Book Award for Non-Fiction. A short time after McKay received the award he died in Wellington at age seventy-one. He left his Baxter collection and other literary papers to the VUC Library and asked Vincent O’Sullivan to be their curator.
Charles [Allan] Marris (1876-1947) journalist and editor, was born in Melbourne and became a school teacher in Australia. He married in 1900 and moved to Wellington in 1904 where he became a teacher and then (in 1913) a journalist for the Evening Post. He transferred to the Christchurch Sun in the following year as its literary editor, retaining the position until 1925 when he returned to Wellington as editor of the New Zealand Times, which in 1927 became the Dominion. He welcomed contributions from New Zealand writers. From 1931 to 1933 he edited Rata, a fine arts annual, which included art, fiction, poetry and photography. It was succeeded by Year Book of the Arts in New Zealand. Marris also edited the annual effete collections (1932-43) entitled New Zealand Best Poems, which exhibited his taste for conventional Georgian manners and, in particular, for the writing of Robin Hyde, Eileen Duggan, J.R. Hervey and Eve Langley. From 1927 to 1942 he was editor of Art in New Zealand for Harry H. Tombs. Marris was justified in believing that he was doing what the universities should have done.
He preferred traditional Georgian verse and in ‘Our younger generation of writers’, which appeared in J.C. Anderson’s Annals of New Zealand Literature (1936), he revealed his literary taste. Fairburn and Glover were convinced thatpage 468 Marris gave preference to women poets but Lauris Edmond found that this was not the case and said so in her edition of The Letters of A.R.D. Fairburn (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 95).
Glover’s attitude to Marris is conveyed by his squib ‘The Arraignment of Paris’ (1937), dedicated ‘to back-scratchers and rhubarb eaters everywhere’. He delivered other verdicts in Short reflection on the present state of literature in this country (Christchurch: Caxton Club Press, 1935), and ‘Pointers to Parnassus; a consideration of the morepork and the muse’ which appeared in Tomorrow (vol. 2, no. 1, 1935: 16). Marris did not take issue publicly with Glover over ‘The Arraignment of Paris’, but threatened privately to sue him. Marris undoubtedly published some rubbish but he also published eleven of the poets included in Curnow’s anthology.
[Edith] Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982) was born in Christchurch, daughter of Henry Edmund Marsh, a bank clerk, and Rose Elizabeth Seager. (Through her mother she was distantly related to JKB.) She began writing early and her interest in drama began during her school days. From 1913 to 1918 she studied at Canterbury College School of Art. In 1919-1920 she toured the North Island with a Shakespearean group and during the 1920s she painted and wrote and travelled to England where she felt at home. She wanted to write a novel but the best she could manage was detective fiction. In 1931 she conceived of Roderick Alleyn as her detective. She eventually wrote thirty-two crime novels, four set in New Zealand but almost all the rest in England. From 1932 to 1936 she lived in New Zealand but still wrote novels with English settings. She returned to England in 1937 and to New Zealand in 1938, having established a following with her crime stories.
Her first Shakespearean production was a modern-dress Hamlet staged in 1943 by the Canterbury University College Drama Society. For the rest of her life she moved between England and New Zealand, involved in her two key interests, detective fiction and the theatre. In 1962 Canterbury gave her an honorary doctorate and she delivered the Macmillan Brown Lectures on ‘Shakespeare in the Theatre’. In 1966 she published her autobiography, Black Beach and Honeydew, which was too reticent for some readers. That year she became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her last production, out of retirement, was Henry V for the gala opening of the Christchurch Town Hall in 1972. Margaret Lewis wrote Ngaio Marsh: A Life (1991).
Bruce [Edward George] Mason (1921-82), playwright, was born in Wellington but brought up in Takapuna from age five. In 1945 he graduated with a BA from Victoria University College. After military service during the war he married Diana Shaw, who always promoted his writing. From 1951 to 1957 he was promotions officer for the New Zealand Forest Service andpage 469 he edited Te Ao Hoū from 1960 to 1961. In 1962 he became a co-founder of Downstage and a theatre critic for Wellington newspapers. In 1980 he received the CBE.
The End of the Golden Weather, his romantic reminiscence of a North Shore boyhood, was first presented in 1959. In a quartet of plays in the 1950s he considered Pākehā culture in New Zealand. The best-known of these was The Pohutukawa Tree which was produced by the New Zealand Players in workshop in 1957. (It was published in 1960, revised in 1963.) Other plays considered jingoistic, anti-immigrant views. This became part of The Healing Ark (1987) a quintet of plays on Māori life and culture. The last of his thirty-four plays was Blood of the Lamb which considered Māori-Pākehā relations.
R[onald] A[llison] K[ells] Mason (1905-71) was born in Penrose, Auckland. When he was young his mother’s father, who had been an Irish military officer, used to counsel him to be a rebel. His father, of whom he was not fond, was an English-born manufacturing chemist who died of opium poisoning on 25 April 1913. The coroner’s verdict was that he ‘accidentally took an overdose’ but the true circumstances have never been satisfactorily explained. (When I was writing my monograph on Mason, James Bertram urged me to disclose what I suspected – that he had committed suicide. I did so, but my published statement was strongly resisted by Dorothea, Ron Mason’s widow.) Ron was aged seven at the time of his father’s death. Between 1912 and 1915 he lived with an unmarried aunt at Litchfield, in the Waikato. He was probably unhappy there but by insisting that he study hard she ultimately helped him to develop an interest in learning.
From 1917 Mason attended Auckland Grammar School where he and A.R.D. Fairburn became friends. Mason wanted to study classics at Auckland University College but his mathematics was not good enough to enable him to gain entry so in 1923 he became a tutor at a private coaching school instead. His first publication was The Beggar (1924), printed by Whitcombe and Tombs and published by Mason himself. Most of the poems reflect the humanist-agnostic position which was his philosophy at that time. These are songs of the defeated, written during the economic slump of 1923-24 when he could not find appropriate or stable employment.
In 1926 he began part-time studies in classics at Auckland University College and became politically involved. He developed an interest in verse drama with Marxist themes. He lost his tutorship late in 1929 and worked on a Waikato farm for the summer. That year he began writing poetry again and some of this appeared in Phoenix. In 1932 James Bertram edited this journal for the Auckland University College Literary Society; Curnow was on the editorial committee. Mason took over the editorship from March 1933, transforming it into a passionate anti-capitalist journal.
No New Thing, a further collection of poetry, was prepared for publicationpage 470 by Bob Lowry at the Unicorn Press in Auckland in 1934 but it was never issued for sale because of a dispute with the binders, although some copies appeared over the imprint of Spearhead Publishers (Auckland, 1934). A copy was reviewed by the English poet and critic William Plomer in ‘Some Books from New Zealand’ in Folios of New Writing 4 (1941), subsequently reprinted in Penguin New Writing 17 (1943). End of Day (Christchurch: Caxton Press) was published in 1936 and five of Mason’s love poems were included in Recent Poems (1941), the small Caxton anthology. This Dark Will Lighten: Selected Poems 1923-41 was published by Caxton Press in 1941.
In 1941 he began editing In Print, a successor to the People’s Voice, which was banned that year. (It continued until 1943.) About 1941 he stopped writing poetry and turned to writing verse dramas with Marxist themes. In 1954 he became assistant secretary of the Auckland Builders and General Labourers’ Union for which he edited a journal entitled Challenge. When ill-health forced him to give this up he worked as a landscape gardener from late 1956. He was the first president of the New Zealand-China Society and visited China in 1957. In 1962 he was appointed Burns Fellow at the University of Otago; his Collected Poems (mostly written before he turned twenty-five) was published that year (Christchurch: Pegasus Press), with an Introduction by Allen Curnow. In the same year he married his long-time friend Dorothea Beyta.
After returning to Auckland in 1965 he enjoyed his new-found recognition until his death on 13 July 1971.
In the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse Curnow said that Mason (with Fairburn) ushered a new modernity into our literature. He was wrong. Mason’s achievement was simultaneously less and more than that, for in his writing, for the first time in our literature, a recognisably personal voice spoke in tones which had no merely regional significance. Humbly, questioning, a brave but anguished spirit explores the problem of living in an uncongenial world. However his language and rhythms belonged to the Georgian tradition which Curnow excoriated in other poets, although not in him.
Paul Millar (1962- ) was born in Oxford, New Zealand. He graduated BA (1990) from Auckland University and BA (Hons) from Victoria University. His PhD from Victoria University (1996) on Baxter’s correspondence with Noel Ginn was a consequence of the time he spent cataloguing papers collected by Frank McKay for A Life of James K. Baxter. Millar lectured at Victoria from 1997. In 2009 he became a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury, with a particular interest in the literature of New Zealand and the Pacific. He is currently (2012) associate professor. His publications include Spark to a Waiting Fuse, James K. Baxter’s Correspondence with Noel Ginn 1942-1946 (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2001); James K. Baxter: Cold Spring (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1996); New Selected Poemspage 471 of James K. Baxter (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2001); Selected Poems of James K. Baxter (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2010); and The Snake-Haired Muse (co-authored with Geoffrey Miles and John Davidson, Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2011). He was also co-author of the video documentary The Road to Jerusalem and the author of No Fretful Sleeper: A Life of Bill Pearson. This biography of JKB’s friend from Christchurch days was published by Auckland University Press in 2010.
Barry Mitcalfe (1930-86), New Zealand poet and activist, was born in Wellington. He became a reporter on the staff of the Dominion and then a teacher. He was awarded a Diploma of Education by Victoria University in 1962 and in the following year graduated with a BA (Hons) in History. Afterwards he lectured in social studies at Wellington Teachers’ Training College. He was the chief force behind the founding of the Committee on Vietnam and one of the leaders of the anti-war movement, sharing similar concerns to those of JKB. Afterwards he became a leader in the anti-nuclear movement. He was a member of a crew which sailed to Mururoa Atoll to protest against nuclear testing by the French Government. During this time he continued to write poetry and short stories and in 1977 he was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship. In 1982 he held the Ursula Bethell residency in creative writing at the University of Canterbury. After moving to the Coromandel he opposed expansion of gold-mining. He was fluent in Māori, wrote and translated poetry in Māori, and encouraged Māori and Pacific Islands literature and culture.
Alan [Edward] Mulgan (1881-1962), of British descent, was born in the Bay of Plenty. He attended Auckland Grammar School from 1892 to 1899 and then became a reporter at the Auckland Star (1900-04). In 1904 he became sub-editor at the Christchurch Press, where he remained until 1916. He married in 1907 and from 1916 to 1935 became chief leader writer and literary editor for the Auckland Star, publishing the poems of Robin Hyde, Rex Fairburn and others. From 1924 to 1935 he was a lecturer in journalism at Auckland University College. In 1926 he travelled to England and afterwards wrote his best-known book, Home: a New Zealander’s Adventure (1927). That year he began working with Pat Lawlor on the administration of PEN. This became easier in 1935 when he moved to Wellington to become supervisor of talks (mainly connected with literature and arts) for what became the New Zealand Broadcasting Service. He retired from broadcasting in 1946 but continued to do freelance writing and broadcasting. In The Making of a New Zealander he expressed the tension felt by a man whose cultural roots were in England but whose home was in New Zealand. He wrote plays and poetry, travel books and booksof history, literarycriticism and reminiscence. Hewas the father of John Mulgan, author of the iconic novel Man Alone.page 472
John [Alan Edward] Mulgan (1913-40) was the son of Alan Mulgan and Marguerite (Pickmere), one of the earliest women graduates of Auckland University College. At AUC he studied Greek and English and would have been nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship in 1932 if he had not become involved in a freedom of speech issue and become more left-wing after the Auckland unemployment riots. He graduated in 1935 with a First from Merton College, Oxford, and then joined the Clarendon Press. In 1937 he married Gabrielle Wankyn, an Oxford woman. In World War Two he served in the British forces with gallantry. During and after the battle of El Alamein he met up with large numbers of New Zealanders, remarking, ‘It was like coming home’. In 1943 he joined Special Operations and fought with Greek commandos against the Germans behind enemy lines. In 1944, very unwell, he was flown to Cairo where he began writing his reflections on the War which subsequently became Report on Experience. He finished writing it in Athens early in 1945 where he had been commissioned to make payments to families of Greek loyalists who had helped the Allies. On 25 April 1945, the day before he was due to transfer to the New Zealand Division, he committed suicide by drinking a large dose of morphine from his medical kit. He left two important books: Man Alone (London: Selwyn and Blount, 1939) and his manuscript of Report on Experience (London: Oxford University Press, 1947).
Sydney Musgrove (1915-87), was born in Derby, England, and graduated from Merton College, Oxford. After lecturing at Queen’s University, Belfast, and New England University College, Armidale, Australia, he came to Auckland University College as head of the English Department in 1947 when he was aged thirty-two. He remained Professor of English there for over thirty years. He published studies of Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, Milton, Robert Herrick, Thomas De Quincy, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Graves. In 1957 he delivered the Macmillan Brown Lectures in Auckland. The three lectures were published as Shakespeare and Jonson: The Macmillan Brown Lectures 1957 (Auckland: Auckland University College, 1957). In this book he suggested that there had been some form of professional relationship between the two dramatists and a connection between King Lear and Volpone. In 1948 Musgrove struck a blow for New Zealand literature when he insisted on the appointment of a New Zealander (rather than a British candidate) to a teaching position at Auckland University College on the grounds that he wanted to introduce a course in New Zealand Literature. His enthusiasm for drama was the key factor in getting the Maidment Theatre built. The Musgrove Studio Theatre was named in his honour.
Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata (1874-1950), politician and scholar, was educated at Te Aute College and Canterbury University College, where he studied political science. In 1893 he became the first Māori to graduate from thepage 473 University of New Zealand when he completed a BA. Two years later he completed a law degree and was admitted to the Bar. He practised law for a time and made stringent efforts to improve the circumstances of his people.
In 1905 he was returned to parliament as a liberal, keeping his seat for thirty-eight years. He was knighted in 1927. A very effective spokesperson for Māori he achieved a great deal as minister of native affairs but resigned from his position after some financial irregularities were discovered in his department (although he did not personally benefit). He resigned from parliament in 1943 but remained on the senate of the University of New Zealand and continued to make a noteworthy contribution to public life. In ‘The Maori Motif ’ (CPr 60), JKB referred to the fact that Ngata made a large collection of songs and chants from all over New Zealand and translated some of them.
Peter Olds (1944- ) poet, was born in Christchurch and worked at miscellaneous jobs after leaving school at sixteen. In 1966 he began writing poetry and his first collection Lady Moss Revived (Dunedin: Caveman Press) was published in 1972. As a young man he was often in the company of JKB in Dunedin, Auckland and Jerusalem. During the 1970s his poetry was published in several collections which encapsulated the ‘hippie culture’ and affected other young writers of the decade. After JKB’s death he published a further five collections of poetry. An overview of his work is presented in It Was a Tuesday Morning: Selected Poems 1972-2001 (Hazard Press, 2004). In 2005 he received a Janet Frame Literary Award.
Victor O’Leary (1927-2008) was born in Auckland. After leaving college he studied for a time at the Society of Mary’s seminary at Greenmeadows and its novitiate at Highden in the Manawatu. In 1950-51, when he was a student at Wellington Teachers’ Training College, he came to know JKB. In 1955 he changed to post-primary teaching which became his life’s work. He had started writing poetry while in the seminary and at training college he established the Glenco Group which included JKB. His poems were published in NZPY and other journals, and in 1958 Louis Johnson’s Capricorn Press published his ‘The Sensual Anchor’ in Three Poets (with Peter Bland and John Boyd). After his marriage to Marianne work pressures and pressures from a growing family caused him to stop sending his poetry for publication. He died in Dunedin.
W[illiam] (Bill) H[osking] Oliver (1925- ) completed an MA in History at Victoria University in 1951 and then, in 1953, a PhD at Oxford. After returning to New Zealand he lectured in history at the University of Canterbury. Fire without Phoenix: Poems 1946-54 (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1957) rendered his reflections on his ancestry and life direction. He transferred to Victoria University and then, in 1964, he became inaugural Professor of History atpage 474 Massey University where he remained until 1983 when he was appointed general editor of the first volume (1769-1869) of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. (The second volume was edited by Claudia Orange.) During the 1990s he did important work on Treaty of Waitangi claims and issues.
He is the author of three other poetry collections: Out of Season: Poems (Wellington, New York: Oxford University Press, 1980); Poor Richard: Poems (Wellington: Port Nicholson Press, 1982); and Bodily Presence: Words, Paintings (co-author Anne Munz, Wellington: BlackBerry Press, 1993).
He also wrote James K. Baxter: a Portrait (Wellington: Port Nicholson Press, 1983, and Wellington, Godwit Press/Bridget Williams Books, 1994). Among his important historical writings are The Story of New Zealand (London: Faber, 1960) and The Oxford History of New Zealand which he co-edited with Bridget Williams (Wellington: Oxford University Press and Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981). Looking for the Phoenix: a memoir (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books) was published in 2002.
Vincent [Gerard] O’Sullivan (1937- ), poet, prose-writer, critic, editor and academic, was born in Auckland and attended Sacred Heart College, where Dan Davin, M.K. Joseph and J.C. Reid had preceded him. After graduating from Auckland University (1959) and Oxford (1962) he returned to lecture at Victoria University of Wellington (1963-66) and then moved to the University of Waikato (1966-78). Afterwards he lived as a fulltime writer, although he was literary editor of the NZ Listener from 1979 to 1980. From 1981 to 1987 he held a number of university fellowships and residencies in New Zealand and Australia. (In 1983 he was resident playwright at Wellington’s Downstage Theatre.) He returned to Victoria University as professor of English in 1988. He was chosen as Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellow at Menton, France, in 1994, and in 1997 was appointed director of the Stout Research Centre at Victoria University. He was appointed emeritus professor of English. After Frank McKay’s death O’Sullivan became his literary executor, which included responsibility for the Baxter archive. He invited Paul Millar to inventory it.
O’Sullivan is a remarkably diverse writer and has won many prizes and fellowships. He has produced more than ten collections of poetry, winning the Montana Book Award for Poetry in 1999 for Seeing You Asked and in 2005 for Nice Morning for It, Adam. In 2009 Victoria University Press published his Further Convictions Pending: Poems 1998-2008. He began writing short stories in the 1970s and established an immediate reputation as a clever chronicler of human presentations and deceptions. Well aware of human experience he always writes with his feet on the ground of New Zealand. His novel Let the River Stand (1993) won the Montana Book Award. He has written plays for radio, television and stage. His editorial experience is extensive: he edited Comment from 1963 to 1966, and edited or co-edited several Mansfield publications. He was also editor of Twentieth Century Newpage 475 Zealand Poetry (1970) and the Oxford Book of New Zealand Short Stories (1992), Ursula Bethell’s Collected Poems (1985), and Ian Milner’s memoirs (1993). He was a friend of JKB and in 1977 his monograph for Bertram’s series New Zealand Writers and their Work was published by Oxford University Press (Wellington and London).
Richard Packer (1935-89) became a journalist in Wellington and Christchurch and attracted the attention of Louis Johnson. His issue of Numbers for February 1959 carried a story by Packer which caused Wellington’s Evening Post to argue that public money should not be spent on ‘indecent’ literature. Louis Johnson described the problem:
In 1959 there was an explosion – created almost entirely by an unfriendly element of the daily newspapers – over the ninth issue of the Literary-Fundsupported magazine Numbers, but the Advisory Committee [of the New Zealand State Literary Fund] was not really put to the test over the incident. The editor of Numbers did not seek further grants for the publication, with the result that it collapsed after one more issue. (‘Poetry Yearbook and the New Zealand Literary Fund’, Comment, vol. 5 no. 2, Jan. 1964, p. 30).
When Prince of the Plague Country, Packer’s only New Zealand book, was published in 1964, JKB remarked in a review ‘I have rarely been more invigorated or compelled to greater respect by the work of a New Zealand poet.’ In the same year, along with JKB and Martyn Sanderson, Packer was cited as being the cause of a controversy over NZPY. Disgusted by New Zealand Puritanism, which he considered to be the real issue, he left for Australia, becoming a journalist in Melbourne. He settled there and produced three other books.
Rhys Pasley. In the late sixties and the seventies Rhys Pasley was one of a group of prominent young New Zealand poets. His poetry appeared in various journals and he edited Lipsync (Wellington). In December 1972 it carried an editorial on JKB contributed by Brian Turner. In 1977 Hawk Press of Dunedin published Pasley’s Two Poems: Café life and The Train. He became a bookseller and in 1993 established Liberty Books in Christchurch.
Alistair I.H. Paterson (1929- ) was born in Nelson. He graduated from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Arts and achieved teaching qualifications at Wellington Teachers’ Training College. Between 1954 and 1974 he was an educational officer for the Royal New Zealand Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander. Subsequently he held similar educational positions with the New Zealand Police and the Department of Education.
He is the author of eight collections of poetry and edited Mate, Climate and Poetry New Zealand. A tireless advocate of an American postmodern poetic he arranged tours to this country by Robert Creeley, Robert Duncanpage 476 and Galway Kinnell. In 1993 he received the Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award and in 2007 he was appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature.
William (Bill) [Harrison] Pearson (1922-2002), novelist and academic, was born in Greymouth. In 1939 he enrolled at Canterbury University College and from 1940-41 he attended Otago University College and Dunedin Training College. After a period of military service which forced him to confront his original pacifism he studied for an MA at Canterbury in 1947-48. At this time he and JKB became friends. He then taught for a year before attending the University of London where he completed a PhD in 1952. That year Landfall published ‘Fretful Sleepers: A Sketch of New Zealand Behaviour and Its Implications for the Artist’. In his case those implications caused him to give up creative writing because he did not want his homosexuality to be discovered. After some years in England he returned to Auckland as a lecturer from 1959 until he retired in 1986 as associate professor. In 1965, with Allen Curnow, he offered Auckland University students a course in New Zealand literature. His only novel was Coal Flat (1963). His other works were academic. In 1964 his edition of Frank Sargeson’s Collected Stories was published. A study of Lawson appeared in 1968; his essays and reviews in 1974. His interest in Pacific Islanders was given expression in Rifled Sanctuaries (1984). In 1991 he published Six Stories, which were about his boyhood and military service. In 2010 Auckland University Press published Paul Millar’s No Fretful Sleeper: A Life of Bill Pearson.
Gloria Rawlinson (1918-95), poet, was born in Tonga and came to New Zealand as a child. As a result of poliomyelitis she was confined to a wheelchair. She published three early books, juvenilia, a collection of poetry and a novel. She corresponded with Robin Hyde and became her literary executor. In this capacity she edited Hyde’s remarkable late collection of poetry Houses by the Sea (1952). Her own poems in The Islands Where I Was Born (1955) achieved some popularity. A further collection appeared in 1963, Of Clouds and Pebbles. Just before she died in 1995 a small collection was published, Gloria in Excelsis, the last brave statement of a woman who was not overwhelmed by her physical disability.
William Pember Reeves (1857-1932) was born in Christchurch and educated from 1867 to 1874 at the Christ’s College Grammar School. He became a lawyer and journalist. (He edited the Canterbury Times in 1885 and the Lyttelton Times from 1889 to 1891.) In 1885 he married Magdalen Stuart Robson, a feminist and member of the Fabian Society.
From 1887 to 1890 he held the parliamentary seat of St Albans. In the elections of 1890 he won the Christchurch seat. Appointed Minister of Labourpage 477 in the aftermath of the national waterfront strike of 1890 he attempted to protect the unions by introducing the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act which subdued militancy and so was roundly resisted by my great-uncle Pat Hickey, first in the Blackball Strike of 1908 and then in subsequent strikes. Reeves held the Christchurch seat until 1896 when he resigned in order to take up the position of Agent-General in London.
He held this position until 1905, in which year he became High Commissioner, a position he held for three years. From 1908 until 1919 he was director of the London School of Economics and from 1917 to 1931 chairman of the board of the National Bank of New Zealand. He also became president of the Anglo-Hellenic League from 1913 to 1925.
His writings include a history of New Zealand entitled The Long White Cloud (1898) and a very important political document entitled State Experiments in Australia and New Zealand (1902). He published two collections of verse in New Zealand and two in Australia. His poems were either satirical verses or traditional Victorian literary pieces. The best-known are ‘The Passing of the Forest’ and ‘A Colonist in his Garden’.
Reeves was a friend of the Fabian socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. He was a genuine reformer and was regarded by some of his political colleagues as a dangerous radical. But his socialism did not emerge from the flax-roots and in 1890 he even tried to ban Asians and poor immigrants from New Zealand.
J[ohn] C[owie] Reid (1916-72), university lecturer, scholar and literary critic, was educated at Sacred Heart College, Auckland, where he came to know M.K. Joseph and Dan Davin. In 1948 Professor Sydney Musgrove overrode the recommendation of the London-based committee of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which favoured a British applicant, on the grounds that he needed a New Zealander to introduce a course in New Zealand Literature. As a result of Mulgrove’s persistence Reid was appointed to the position and the tradition of appointing British applicants was broken.
He lectured in English at Auckland University College from 1948, proving to be a good and popular teacher and an enthusiastic promoter of literature. He was a force in introducing New Zealand literature at Auckland University in 1956. Some thought him glib but their objections, like those of Maurice Duggan, might also have been coloured by the fact that he was a prominent and public Catholic. He eventually became Professor of English. He was the author of The Secret Years (Auckland: Griffin Press, 1945); Creative Writing in New Zealand: a brief critical history (Auckland: Printed for the Author by Whitcombe & Tombs, 1946); The Mind and Art of Coventry Patmore (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957); Francis Thompson, man and poet (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, ); The Hidden World of Charles Dickens ([Auckland]: University of Auckland, 1962); Thomas Hood (London:page 478 Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963); Forty Short Stories (London: Edward Arnold, 1965); New Zealanders at War in Fiction [William Satchell, Robin Hyde, John A. Lee, Guthrie Wilson, Dan Davin, Michael Joseph, Errol Brathwaite], Auckland: [New Zealand Publishing Society], 1966); and New Zealand Non-Fiction; a survey with notes for discussion (Wellington: New Zealand University Press/Milburn, 1968); and the editor of The Kiwi Laughs: an anthology of New Zealand Prose Humour (Wellington: Reed, 1961). In 1962 he delivered the Macmillan Brown lectures on ‘The Hidden World of Charles Dickens’. He died while marking examination papers. Afterwards Stead wrote to Sargeson, ‘I know all the reasons why you [disliked] him . . . But [he was] also a man of feeling’. One reason why Reid annoyed Sargeson was that he was anti-homosexual and critical of Sargeson’s pornographic tendencies.
[Harold] Winston Rhodes (1905-87) was born in Australia. He attended Melbourne University and while moving in radical and socialist circles came into contact with Frederick Sinclaire who was subsequently appointed Professor of English at Canterbury University College. In 1931 Rhodes married Sophie Slater and two years later they moved to Christchurch where Sinclaire arranged for him to become a lecturer in the Department of English. With Kennaway Henderson and Sinclaire he helped set up Tomorrow, the left-wing journal where, as literary editor, he gave exposure to Curnow, Fairburn and Sargeson. In 1939 he joined the Friends of the Soviet Union and then, in 1941, its successor, the Society for Closer Relations with Russia. When Professor Sinclaire’s health deteriorated in the late 1930s Rhodes unobtrusively took over the administration of the English Department but when Sinclaire retired in 1948 he did not become his successor because members of the professorial board did not approve of his Marxism. His appointment as associate professor in the following year was even opposed by some board members. It was not until 1964 that, after the creation of a second chair, he became a full professor. During 1959-60 he and Wolfgang Rosenberg founded the New Zealand Monthly Review. Rhodes edited it until 1968 and remained involved with its production until 1986. He was president of the NZ-USSR Society and published tracts with a pro-Soviet slant. He also wrote studies of Sargeson and New Zealand fiction and memoirs of Frederick Sinclaire and Kennaway Henderson.
Alun [Morgan] Richards (1907-2000) was born in Wales and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1912. At Auckland University College in 1927 he refused to do compulsory military training and even though his refusal brought the practice to an end he was deprived of his civil rights for ten years. In 1929 he took first-class honours and a degree in journalism. He won a scholarship to study overseas and during that time he and his wife biked through France and Germany on a tandem. He was ordained a Presbyterianpage 479 minister in 1934 but resigned within a few years because he found that parish ministry did not suit him. He became organiser of extension studies at Victoria University of Wellington but lost his job in 1938 when the professorial board fired him for speaking against the Second World War. (He considered war futile and thought it better for countries to allow themselves to be invaded and then respond by civil disobedience.) He edited the Presbyterian journal The Outlook from 1948 to 1955 and retired from all ministry in 1972.
Frank Sargeson (1903-82) was born in Hamilton as Norris Frank Davey. He had a conventional upbringing in a Methodist family (in a letter to Maurice Duggan he described his ‘Very middle-class puritan wowser home’) but as he became older he felt tension because he was attracted to young men. In 1925 he discovered that his mother had read some of his letters without his permission and the subsequent quarrel led to a serious breach in their relationship. He went to Auckland where he completed his training as a solicitor in 1926. In the following year he went on a walking tour in Europe but mostly stayed in London, reading at the British Museum reading room. While in London he had at least two homosexual relationships. When he returned he went to Wellington where he was employed by the Public Trust. His homosexual adventures there reached a disastrous climax in 1929. The police had been keeping a known homosexual under surveillance and arrested him and Davey when they were in bed. Davey pleaded that he had been seduced and became a Crown witness. As a result the other man was given a gaol sentence with hard labour while Davey received a suspended sentence. However the case received considerable publicity in the media and Davey felt that he had to leave Wellington. From 1929 to 1931 he lived and worked on the farm of his uncle Oakley Sargeson at Okahukura in the King Country but when his uncle was unable to subsidise him fully, allowing him to write, Davey moved into his parents’ holiday bach in Takapuna, Auckland, initially without their knowledge, and registered as unemployed. He could not practise law because of his trial in Wellington; in any case he had decided that he wanted to be a writer. At this stage he thought it prudent to call himself ‘Frank Sargeson’ and that was the name he used as a writer. He told Maurice Duggan in a letter how he supported himself in that Depression time, ‘milkman, relief, fishing and hawking fish, gardening and selling produce, going out gardening and variety of odd jobs – 2nd breakdown in health and invalidity benefit.’
He had been writing without success since 1928 and was forced to consider the kind of language needed to articulate a New Zealand experience. In 1935 he began a long-term intimate relationship with Harry Doyle, a suspended horse trainer ten years older than he was, to whom he had first been attracted ten years earlier. Then on a particular day in 1935, having decided to write a story for the Christchurch radical periodical Tomorrow (1934-40), he wrote with a speed and precision which astonished him, his first successful story,page 480 ‘Conversation with my Uncle’, having captured the vocabulary, speech rhythms and living circumstances of Doyle. (The American story-writer Sherwood Anderson, author of Winesburg, Ohio, was also a major influence.) That year Tomorrow accepted it and a number of his other short stories and literary sketches. (Kennaway Henderson edited Tomorrow at 81 Hereford St. Brasch described him in 1938 as ‘small oldish, mild-looking, kindly-spoken’. His journal published more than thirty of Sargeson’s stories.) When his collection of short stories Conversation with my Uncle and Other Stories was published in Auckland by the Unicorn Press in 1936 it was immediately apparent that a writer had finally captured in prose a distinctly New Zealand tone and idiom. This was followed by A Man and his Wife (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1940). The production cost of this collection of twenty-four stories was paid by Elizabeth Pudney Dawson, a lesbian physiotherapist and would-be writer who lived in Pelorus Sound and sent money and useful gift parcels (such as scarves and tobacco) to Fairburn and Sargeson. (Sargeson called her ‘Peter’.)
Sargeson lost a publishing sponsor in 1940 when Tomorrow closed. It had opposed New Zealand’s entrance into the war and its printer was visited by the superintendent of police who pointed out that any subversive articles would lead to the confiscation of the printing press.
In 1938, wanting to write a novel, Sargeson collected various notes he had recorded for other short stories, and strung them together. He finished this piece in 1941, calling it That Summer. Based on his relationship with Harry Doyle, it was a story about the relationship between two men. Because of its homosexual nature Glover refused to publish it, but John Lehmann published it in three instalments in Penguin New Writing in 1943 and 1944. Sargeson began work on another novel in which a boy is freed of trauma when he catches sight of his father spying on his sister-in-law when she is undressing. (In several respects it is modelled on James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.) This time Glover was impressed, even though it did not succeed structurally, being episodic and picaresque, and it was published at the Caxton Press in 1945 as When the Wind Blows. (Sargeson claimed that the use of the picaresque was deliberate because he wanted to produce ‘a sort of Sketch of the Artist as a Young Man instead of a portrait.’ (King, 266). John Lehmann published That Summer, and Other Stories in London in 1946. The stories, which were elastic, wry and austere, presented the dilemmas of men who lived at the edge of society in the years of the 1930s Depression. JKB would have known the Lehmann issue of That Summer and the Glover issue of When the Wind Blows.
He was always extremely poor but in 1946 he became the owner of the hut and land at 14 Esmonde Rd. Even so he did not have money to fund the improvements which the council required. When he was threatened with prosecution he replied that he was waiting for a loan from the State Advances Corporation. But this was declined on the grounds that he did not fit the criteria. Learning of his predicament Alice Minchin offered to marry himpage 481 to make him eligible. She was Eric McCormick’s landlady and barely knew him. While Sargeson was desperately weighing the pros and cons McCormick intervened with Joseph Heenan, his former boss, now head of the Department of Internal Affairs, to secure a pension for him of £4 a week. (Such pensions were originally awarded to James Cowan, Eileen Duggan, Jessie McKay and William Satchell, of whom only Eileen Duggan was still living.)
He remained poor during the 1950s, poor and unable to write. He had written two plays but he could not get them performed. JKB was one of those who read and liked A Time for Sowing. On 22 July 1955 he wrote to Sargeson about it:
This work is head and shoulders . . . above any drama in the country. Curnow’s The Axe is of course an obvious competitor; but I have never felt that play was truly dramatic. Have you seen a caterpillar on the top of a stick reaching all round for a solid foothold and finding none – that is Curnow’s method of dramatic writing . . . Your work is a genuine, living, mature work of the concrete imagination, with irony, intelligence and sympathy bursting through’. (King, 336)
A period of fruitfulness followed: in the 1960s he published his collected stories, two plays, and three remarkable novels, Memoirs of a Peon (1965), The Hangover (1967) and Joy of the Worm (1969). These were followed by two novellas, one of which (Man of England Now) was reviewed by JKB. He had successfully developed new strategies to accommodate his changing circumstances and the changes in society. From 1967 until 1971 he cared for Harry Doyle, who by then needed nursing care. He was devastated when Doyle died in May of that last year. But he received some solace within a few days of his friend’s death when a black cat appeared at the door to Harry’s room. It was shy, he told me in a letter of 13 June: ‘I’m still not able to get near it, but it now takes for granted the food I provide it with. I expect apart from “superstition” the broad generalisation would be that nothing goes out the window without something coming in at the door.’ (Sargeson, 456). He meant that Harry had returned home. In fact another love entered his life. King did not divulge his name, but simply referred to him as ‘M’. He reminded Sargeson of his homosexual uncle Oakley Sargeson, who gave Frank shelter at times when he needed it. The sixty-year-old Murdoch McLean from Kaukapakapa answered Sargeson’s advertisement for firewood. This reserved, strongly-built man immediately affected Sargeson who wanted to give him ‘any kind of comfort that might be within my power’. Before long he was doing this. He visited him, brought him gifts, took trips with him, gave him money regularly and even thought of going to live with him. He also allowed McLean’s friend Clarence Tucker to stay with him at Esmonde Road, waiting on him hand and foot. Clarrie reminded him of Harry. But in 1976 Clarrie had to go into the heart unit and McLean, then aged sixty-four, decided to marry a girl variously described as being eighteen or twenty yearspage 482 old. Sargeson was shocked. Even after they broke up Sargeson would say of the ‘tall handsome man of much dark dignity’ that ‘I love him to distraction, have for many years, and always will.’ How he felt was expressed thirty years earlier to A.P. Gaskell, ‘And what agonies when the one I love or desire, or both, won’t or can’t reciprocate’ (King, 219). He did not seem to love Baxter. In his letter of 13 June 1971 he told me
I have seen your little Baxter book [The Poetry of James K. Baxter] noticed in Herald and Star by people who have had very little to say. I shall buy it. I don’t much go along with these Celtic talents which throw off masterpieces between pub-crawls – later to become Jerusalem-retreats – but were the Essenes quite like that. I expect the Scrolls of the Master will be deposited in Maori burial-caves). I don’t expect you to pardon me – there is and always has been something dismayingly provincial about Baxter. I should hate to tell him about the death of my friend, even tell him about my friend. There is something so awful about provincial caritas!
During the seventies he published three volumes of autobiography. (In 1981 they were collected into a single volume as Sargeson.) But he had forgotten almost everything and everybody when he died in the geriatric ward of North Shore Hospital on 1 March 1982. To make sure that they were shut out he lay with his face to the wall. He was New Zealand’s greatest story writer since Katharine Mansfield. His biography was published by Michael King in 1995.
Erik (also Eric) Schwimmer (1923-) writer, editor, sociologist, was a Dutch anthropologist who came to New Zealand in the early 1950s. His interest in the culture of Māori motivated him to persuade the Department of Māori Affairs to provide funding for a journal composed by Māori writers for Māori readers. The result was Te Ao Hoū, of which he was foundation editor. Aware of Jacquie Baxter’s interest in New Zealand literature he invited her to contribute the first of a series of short stories by Māori writers. His involvement in the Wellington literary scene caused him to become her friend as well as a friend of JKB, Alistair Campbell and other writers. From 1968 to 1974 he was on the staff of the University of Toronto and he became Professor of Anthropology at Université Laval, from where he retired in 1992. From a New Zealand perspective, he did very important work when he fostered Māori literature in English in Te Ao Hoū. In 1968 he edited The Maori People in the Nineteen-Sixties – a Symposium (London: C. Hurst & Company and New York: Humanities Press).
Maurice [Francis Richard] Shadbolt (1932-2004) was born in Auckland and educated at Auckland University College. Until 1957 he worked as a journalist and wrote for and directed films for the National Film Unit. From 1957 to 1960 he lived in Europe. In 1959 his first collection of stories The New Zealanders was published. His second collection was Summer Fires andpage 483 Winter Country (1963). His first novel was Among the Cinders (1965). Other novels and stories cleared the decks for Strangers and Journeys (1972). His 1980 novel The Lovelock Version connected the forefront of his novel with nineteenth-century history. Then he wrote three novels connected with the New Zealand Wars: Season of the Jew (1986), Monday’s Warriors (1990) and The House of Strife (1993). His memoirs include One of Ben’s (1993) and From the Edge of the Sky (1999). He won numerous awards and fellowships and was awarded the CBE in 1989. He and JKB had a close relationship and JKB wrote ‘Pig Island Letters’ for him; but Shadbolt’s memoirs reveal that his feelings about JKB were both intense and ambiguous.
Keith Sinclair (1922-93), historian and poet, was born in Auckland. He was awarded an MA and PhD in history by Auckland University. In 1947 he began teaching there and by 1963 he was head of department. His History of New Zealand (1957) was a best-seller. In the same year his Origins of the Maori Wars was regarded as very important. He wrote biographies of the statesmen William Pember Reeves (1965) and Walter Nash (1976) and in 1967 he gave impetus to the founding of the New Zealand Journal of History. His first book of poetry Songs for a Summer was published in 1952. His other poetry collections were Strangers or Beasts (1954), A Time to Embrace (1963), The Firewheel Tree (1974) and Moontalk (1993). An autobiography, Halfway Round the Harbour, was published posthumously in 1993. JKB contended that Curnow misrepresented Sinclair’s poetic achievement by representing him as a protagonist of the New Zealand Myth rather than a love poet.
Frederick Sinclaire (1881-1954) was born in Auckland. In 1903 he graduated from Auckland University College with first class honours in Latin and French. He became a Unitarian minister in Melbourne but abandoned that for a religion which he founded, the Free Religious Fellowship. He was also a socialist and pacifist and approved of nationalism in literature. In 1932 he was appointed Professor of English at Canterbury University College. One of his Melbourne contacts, Winston Rhodes, then came to Christchurch and joined Kennaway Henderson and Glover in founding Tomorrow. When Sinclaire’s health deteriorated in the late 1930s Rhodes unobtrusively took over the administration of the English Department but when Sinclaire retired in 1948 he was not appointed his successor because members of the professorialboard did not approve of his Marxism. The Caxton Press published two collections of Sinclaire’s essays, Lend Me Your Ears (1943) and A Time to Laugh and Other Essays (1951).
Kendrick Smithyman (1922-95) began publishing poetry in 1944. He married Mary Stanley, herself a poet, and became a schoolteacher. Examples of his allusive and complex verse were first collected in Seven Sonnetspage 484 (Auckland: Pelorus Press, 1946). This was followed by The Blind Mountain and Other Poems (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1950). Curnow recognised something of his achievement in 1951 when he included a selection of his poetry in A Book of New Zealand Verse, 1923-51. Smithyman taught at primary and intermediate schools in Auckland from 1946 to 1963; in that last year he became a tutor in English at the University of Auckland. His idiosyncratic but interesting book A Way of Saying: a Study of New Zealand Poetry (Auckland: Collins) was published in 1965. Other poetry collections followed The Blind Mountain but it was in Earthquake Weather (1972) that his mature voice was heard, resulting from the reaction of his sensibility to his native Northland. This was maintained and developed in several subsequent collections. In 1985 Stories About Wooden Keyboards (Auckland: Auckland University Press and Oxford University Press) won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. In the following year his achievement was further recognised when Auckland University awarded him an honorary DLitt. He retired from Auckland University in 1987. He wrote numerous poems, some of very high quality, and many remained unpublished at his death. His Collected Poems 1943-95 (edited by Margaret Edgecumbe and Peter Simpson) was published electronically by Mudflat Webworks (Auckland, 2004).
Charles Edgar Spear (1910-85) studied at Otago University College, where he earned a BA in 1933, and Canterbury University College, where he achieved an MA in 1945. At Canterbury he displayed an interest in the aesthetic and eurocentric. In 1936 he and his friend Lawrence Baigent co-authored a satirical novel entitled Rearguard Actions (London: Methuen, 1936) which was attributed to ‘C.L. Spear-Baigent’. A widely-read and very intelligent man, he worked as a journalist and a schoolteacher until 1948 when he was appointed a lecturer in English at Canterbury University College. His elegant poetry appeared in only one collection, Twopence Coloured (Christchurch, Caxton Press, 1951); it was No. 7, the last of The Caxton Poets Series. After he retired in 1975 he and his wife eventually moved to England where their daughters were living. He died in London. Spear had a wry sense of humour and a gift for the apt quotation. I am aware of an occasion when he drew attention to a skimpy, utterly inadequate undergraduate essay on some topic or other, while remarking without a smile ‘Infinite riches in a little room’. (The quotation was from Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta.)
Mary [Isobel] Stanley (1919-80), poet. After Brian Neal, her first husband, was killed in World War Two she married Kendrick Smithyman. They had three children. In 1945 she won the Jessie Mackay Memorial Award for three poems. Her first book of poetry, Starveling Year, was published in 1953. Kendrick Smithyman supplied an Introduction for the only other book to bear her name, Starveling Year and Other Poems (Auckland: Auckland page 485University Press, 1994). It is not known why she stopped writing (although it may be that two poets represented one too many in the household) but the fact that she wrote so little after displaying so much promise signified a loss to New Zealand literature.
C[hristian] K[arlson] Stead (1932- ), poet, novelist, literary critic, was a student at Auckland University College in 1954 when he and his wife Kay became close friends of Frank Sargeson. In the following year Stead achieved an MA. In 1956 Stead and his wife moved to Armidale, New South Wales, before going to Bristol, England, where he did the doctoral research which laid the foundations for The New Poetic (1964). He was appointed lecturer in English at Auckland in 1959 and professor in 1967. He became a friend of Sargeson and also of Curnow, whose side he took in any campaign against the Wellington poets. His academic studies include his 1964 modernist study The New Poetic (which was based on his PhD research), an edition of New Zealand Short Stories (1964), Letters and Journals of Katherine Mansfield: a Selection (1977), Collected Stories of Maurice Duggan (1981), In the Glass Case: Essays on New Zealand Literature (1981), Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement (1986) and Answering to the Language (1989).
His poetry was first published in book form in 1964 in Whether the Will is Free. Other collections are Crossing the Bar (1972), Quesada (1975), Walking Westward (1979) and Geographics (1982). He wrote other poems as well but from about 1986, when he retired from Auckland University, he put an increased effort into prose.
His successful novels include his anti-Vietnam War novel, Smith’s Dream (1971), which was filmed as Sleeping Dogs, and two novels which won the fiction prize at the New Zealand Book Awards, All Visitors’ Ashore (1984) and The Singing Whakapapa (1994). His provocative writings about such matters as Māori rights and feminism meant that he is judged not only by the considerable contribution he has made to New Zealand literature.
His diverse and important contributions to New Zealand literature were recognised in 2007 when he was appointed a Member of the Order of New Zealand.
Joan Stevens (1908-90) was born in England and emigrated with her family to New Zealand when she was five years old. They settled in Hamilton where her father ran a bookshop. After earning a BA at the University of Otago she attended Somerville College, Oxford, where she won a first-class in English. She did some teaching and then was awarded an MA before she returned to New Zealand, where she taught at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School and Wellington Girls’ College before becoming warden and lecturer in English at Dunedin Training College. In 1946 she was appointed senior lecturer at Victoria University College, specialising in fiction and New Zealandpage 486 literature. In 1962 she offered a paper in New Zealand literature at MA level, the first of its kind. In 1960 she became associate professor and in 1971 was appointed to a personal professorship. An enthusiastic, vigorous and effective teacher, her contribution to education was recognised in 1974 when she was awarded a CBE.
Douglas Stewart (1913-85) was born in Taranaki and studied at Victoria University of Wellington. Afterwards he worked as a journalist until 1938 when he left New Zealand to become assistant literary editor of the Bulletin (Sydney). In 1940 he became literary editor of the Bulletin’s Red Page. He held the position for twenty years before joining the publishing firm Angus and Robertson. He published only one early collection of poetry in New Zealand but in Australia he achieved literary maturity and his poetry, drama and prose became part of the canon of literature.
Jacqueline (Jacquie) [Cecilia] Sturm (1927-2009), New Zealand writer, wife of James K. Baxter, was born in the cottage hospital at Opunake, Taranaki, on 17 May 1927, second daughter of Jack and Mary Pupuni. (The name on her birth certificate is Te Kare Jack Pupuni.) Her mother, of Taranaki descent, died of septicaemia fifteen days after her birth. When her father, a member of the Whakatōhea iwi of the Bay of Plenty, left with his eldest child for the East Coast, Jacquie was cared for by her mother’s mother and spent four and a half to five years in her care in Taranaki and at Rātana Pa. But when her grandmother became unwell Jacquie was given into the care of Ethel Sturm, a local nurse, and Ethel’s husband Bert, a market-gardener and auctioneer of fruit and vegetables in New Plymouth. Ethel was Pākehā. Bert was Māori; his iwi was Ngāti Porou. The Sturms were such compassionate people that they fostered a number of children, but Jacquie was the only child they formally adopted (when she was fourteen years old). Her name became Jacqueline Cecilia Sturm.
Bert’s business was prosperous and survived the Depression without too much difficulty, but soon afterwards he was bankrupted. At that stage the family moved briefly to New Plymouth, Auckland and Hastings. They also lived for a time in Palmerston North where Jacquie became very unhappy and unwell. Her poor health was the result of illness made worse by the racism and bullying she experienced at school and sometimes in the community.
From Palmerston North the Sturms moved to Pukerua Bay, Wellington, where Jacquie was very happy. However when she was aged ten or eleven she again became ill and was off school for several weeks. She was a keen reader but because she had spare time and wanted to do something actively creative she did some painting. However she realised that her efforts were not very good. At that stage she began writing poetry and by putting her feelings into words she discovered the power of language.page 487
The family moved back briefly to Palmerston North and then to Hawke’s Bay where Jacquie was regarded as such a clever student at high school that Rev. Manuhuia Bennett (later Bishop) encouraged her parents to let her attend university. He may have come to know them when he was a Māori missionary for the Rangitīkei region, which included some suburbs of Palmerston North, and he seems to have hoped that Jacquie would become a role model for other Māori children. She was only seventeen when the Health Department provided a bursary to enable her to study medicine at Otago University College.
Among the flock of new undergraduates who arrived on campus that year she was that rarest of all birds – a young Māori woman. In fact she was the only Māori woman on campus. At the end of her medical intermediate year circumstances conspired to block her entry to the medical school. Returned soldiers were allowed entry if they achieved 50% in the qualifying examination; but other candidates had to achieve 96%. The result was that Jacquie, who scored an outstanding 92%, was excluded. So she enrolled for an arts degree with a special focus on psychology, hoping that a high pass level in her arts subjects would gain her entry to medicine. This time she succeeded but she also realised that she was more interested in anthropology than medicine and so decided not to enter the medical school. The result was that she concentrated on a BA instead.
One of her poems was published in Critic, the student weekly, and she was runner-up in the annual prize competition conducted by Otago University Review – her disappointment at not winning was sweetened by the fact that it was won by a young man whose poetry she liked. His name was James K. Baxter. Her first encounter with him occurred at a poetry reading to which a friend invited her. She described what happened: ‘So I went along, and saw JKB, and I thought goodness me, what a dopey bloke! He was really dopey; he looked as though he was half asleep. The only thing was he had a beautiful voice. And he read poetry like nobody else.’ (‘Interview with J.C. Sturm’, by Roma Potiki, in Trout 14 (2007): 7). She continued:
Then later on I met Dopey through another friend of mine and it was a very sort of comfortable feeling. The upshot of it was that I got to know Dopey and he started dating me. He introduced me to poets that I’d never heard of. And he seemed to know Dylan Thomas off by heart. So quite a lot of our dates would consist of me walking beside Dopey while he recited poetry at the top of his voice. I learned a lot from that. The main thing I learned was that I wasn’t a poet, not what I’d call a poet.
Jacquie was inclined to be self-deprecating. She set high standards for herself but she was also realistic and knew that she was competing with a poet who already exhibited signs of greatness.
At this time he was infatuated with Jane Aylward, a medical student who flatted in Castle Street. Much later he revealed how he felt when he wrote, ‘Ipage 488 couldn’t stay away from her and counted the hours by her coming and going. She rode continually in my mind like a night-haired Venus making a home of the sky.’ (No. 411; 5/3).
But towards the end of 1947, after Jane fell in love with someone else, Jim showed much more interest in Jacquie and began to monopolise her time. He moved to Christchurch at the end of 1947. He informed his parents that he wanted to restart his university career but his actual reason was that he wanted to be able to consult Grete Christeller, who had done psycho-analytic training with C.G. Jung. The move would also give him freedom, remove him from the sphere of his mother’s periodic and forthright criticism, and put him back in touch with Lawrence Baigent and other members of the literary and artistic set whom he had already met.
Earlier in 1947 Professor Ivan Sutherland of Canterbury University College arrived in Dunedin to deliver some lectures on psychology and anthropology. These included observations about his special field of interest – issues relating to contact between Māori and Pākehā. Understandably, Jacquie was so impressed by him that she considered moving to Christchurch in order to become his student, particularly because anthropology was not a strong subject at Otago University. At the time Jim argued against this, but when she made the move he was very pleased because they were once again in the same city. They did not live together but they spent a lot of time in each other’s company.
During 1948 Jim supported himself by working on and off at a series of short-term jobs. Even though he did not enrol at the university he became literary editor of Canta, the student newspaper, and attended some lectures, including some of Jacquie’s lectures. Blow, Wind of Fruitfulness, his second book of poetry, was published to general acclaim that year.
But generally he was not happy. As well as feeling lonely he had no life-direction and was considerably troubled by his overwhelming alcoholism and by sexual temptations. His consciousness of both Original Sin and personal sin drew him towards the Anglican Church which he joined on 4 November when he was baptised at the Church of St Michael and All Angels. The Sturms were non-conformist but Jacquie must already have been Anglican because she was a witness at the ceremony.
In an undated letter that year Jim assured his parents that he could now regard them ‘without any mistrust and feeling of insecurity’. By October he felt free to talk to them about Jacquie:
She is a very fine girl, and I feel entirely at home in her company . . . I have grown fond of her. Not ‘infatuation’, just seeing more and more how much character and meaning she has. I might marry her in a year or two – but that is by no means certain, it will depend on how we both feel then. It is strange, the fact that she is a Maori draws me to her rather than repelling me. Still, you can be quite easy about it. There will be no marriagepage 489 of necessity in my case . . . Also her ‘pakeha’ foster-parents have no love for me, since they have set their hearts on her being an intellectual prodigy, and regard me as a feckless intruder. (McKay 118).
The Baxters questioned their son’s readiness for marriage; the Sturms did not approve either. Aware that Jacquie was highly regarded in the Psychology Department they asked Professor Sutherland to convince Jacquie to break off the relationship. After giving thought to the matter he told her that a writer was needed for an expedition which was about to leave for Antarctica and suggested that she persuade Jim to apply. Jacquie resented his interference. It was a trying time for her but in November she succeeded in passing her exams. Immediately afterwards she and Jim visited her parents. Jim told his parents about the visit: ‘I think her mother found me not as bad as she expected, she has grown to accept me in the last two days.’ (McKay 119). Bert Sturm had initially refused to see him but he had eventually relented.
On 9 December it was apparent to everyone that all negative pressure was counter-productive – because on that date Jacquie (aged 21) and Jim (aged 22) married in the Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist, Napier. Bert Sturm set aside his misgivings and came out of hospital to give Jacquie away.
The newly-weds moved to Wellington where Jacquie joined up with the Māori Women’s Welfare League and Ngāti Poneke. Jim accompanied her to some functions, although, she revealed later, he generally stayed on the sidelines. In 1949 when she graduated BA she became the first Māori woman to win a degree from a New Zealand university.
[The rest of Jacquie Baxter’s life, up to 1968, is told in the Introduction.]
Jacquie was the first Māori writer to be published. In 1954 her first published story appeared in the first issue of Numbers, of which JKB was co-editor. The quality of her writing was recognised by Erik Schwimmer, editor of Te Ao Hoū, who accepted ‘For All the Saints’ to inaugurate a series of short stories by Māori writers. (It was published in December 1955.) After that her short stories and reviews appeared regularly in Numbers and Te Ao Hoū. In 1966 C.K. Stead included ‘For All the Saints’ in the second series of New Zealand Short Stories, making her the first Māori writer whose work was included in a New Zealand anthology. By 1966 she had compiled a manuscript of short stories but could not find a publisher.
As if to mimic her own upbringing when she became whangai (foster daughter) of her grandmother, she effectively became mother of her granddaughter Stephanie Te Kare Baxter (daughter of Hilary Baxter and Ron Hill) when Hilary proved to be too unwell to care for her. (Soon afterwards Jacquie formally adopted Stephanie.)
As a consequence of what was effectively her final separation from her husband in 1969 Jacquie became a solo parent and breadwinner. She stoppedpage 490 writing, having previously ceased her activities with Ngāti Poneke, the Māori Education Foundation and the Māori Women’s Welfare League, remarking later, ‘survival was the name of the game and I had to get out and get a job.’ She got one working in women’s hosiery and then serving at the lolly counter at McKenzie’s Department Store. Then (in 1969) she was given a position at the Wellington Public Library after Don Silver, a senior librarian at the library, recognised her behind the lolly counter and urged her to apply for a job there. Her application was successful and after orientation she began work in the New Zealand Room.
The demands on her time meant that ‘from 1968 until 1989 I didn’t write a thing. Nothing. And I didn’t think I’d ever write again because in a way not only was it a frilly bit of my life, or so I thought then, but it belonged to another era, a different part of my life which had gone.’ Her situation seemed set in concrete when her husband died unexpectedly in October 1972.
But while she was working as a librarian at the Wellington Public Library Witi Ihimaera included two of her stories in his 1982 anthology Into the World of Light. In the following year The Spiral Collective published her first prose collection, The House of the Talking Cat, the group of short stories which she finished writing in 1966 or 1967. (The women’s publishing collective published Keri Hulme’s the bone people in 1984 which was awarded the Booker Prize.) When the book was reprinted by Hodder & Stoughton in 1986 it was shortlisted in the New Zealand Book Awards. In 1992 she retired from her position at Wellington Public Library, where she was in charge of the New Zealand Room. In the 1990s she began writing poetry again. In 1996 How Things Are, a collection of twelve poems, was published. More significantly, in the same year Dedications, the first poetry book published by Steele Roberts, became a publishing and a critical success. Part of its appeal to readers was the revelation of her feelings about JKB, including rage and hurt. In 1997 her achievement was recognised when she received the Honour Award for Poetry in the Montana Book Awards. Postscripts, her second collection of poetry, was published in 2000. In 2003, when a second edition of The House of the Talking Cat was published, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature by Victoria University. In 2006 Steele Roberts (Wellington) published The Glass House: stories & poems. (Jacquie’s son John worked with the publisher’s designer on The House of the Talking Cat and provided input for the cover designs and artwork of all of her other publications.)
The title story of The Glass House provided the book’s theme. In her interview with Roma Potiki she described it as ‘tolerance, acceptance’, explaining,
You’ll see that I use a quote from Auden – “We must love one another or die.” Well, I mean we’re going to die anyway physically, but I’m talking about spiritually. He was talking about spiritually I think. So that set the theme, the overall theme of the book. And all of the stories fit into thatpage 491 frame. Of tolerance, acceptance and loving one another, which of course you know all Christians say – ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
It may be significant that she could not publish it with her other stories in 1983 because, as she explained to Roma Potiki, ‘it would have thrown the whole book out of balance’. She may have meant that she had written it so much later than the other stories. In any case she told Roma Potiki, ‘but European Pākehā, when they refer to love what they’re usually talking about is sexual attraction. Whereas with Māori I think it’s fair to say that we use the word aroha, which has got nearer to the meaning, curiously enough of the quote from Auden.’ Potiki regarded the Māori concept as much broader than the Pākehā. Jacquie agreed: ‘Yes. Not only do I love you and hopefully you love me, but I love that as well, ok? [Points out the window to the sea].’
When Lindsay Rabbitt remarked that her poems to Baxter and his to her expressed ‘an intensity of love and respect’ she replied ‘I would like to think so.’ It was a cautious appraisal of a topsy-turvy marriage.
Eventually she married Peter Alcock, writer, critic and Massey University academic, who courted her, bought the next-door house, and kept courting her. They were good companions and had a mutually enriching relationship.
After the year 2000 when Postscripts was published both Jacquie and Peter developed various health issues. John and then Stephanie began caring for Jacquie. (Stephanie and Ian McDonald, who had been together for years, were partners and the parents of four children.) Peter moved into care and then died.
Unexpectedly and sadly death visited again. Stephanie had been unwell for some time but unexpectedly in late October 2009 her health suddenly deteriorated and she was taken to Wellington Public Hospital by ambulance where antibiotics failed to prevent her sudden death from septicaemia on 31 October. She was forty-one years old. A further cause of sadness was the fact that Jacquie’s mother died from the same disease. Stephanie’s funeral notice recognised both Hilary and Jacquie as her mothers.
Jacquie was distraught. Two months later her health suddenly deteriorated and after a week in hospital and a period of time in a hospice she died in Wellington on 30 December 2009, aged eighty-two. The small funeral cortege stopped briefly at Whakarongotai Marae in Waikanae, before proceeding to Opunake where her tangi was conducted at Orimupiko Marae. Taranaki was her mountain and on the day of her tangi it moved in and out of cloud, as if supervising events. Afterwards her body was buried to the side of and slightly down from her mother’s grave. In an announcement of her death and a brief panegyric the New Zealand Book Council’s monthly e-letter remarked that she was a single parent but made no mention of her marriage to James K. Baxter or of her two children Hilary and John. Hilary died in Wellington in November 2013.
In the course of an interview Jacquie said that writers ‘should be allowed to do what their emotional memory tells them to do with all the passion in the world. Never mind about their ethnicity, never mind about their gender, justpage 492 let them do it’. She wanted to respond with passion to the experience of being an individual and a human being. She expanded her belief:
Some would say, ‘You’re not a Māori writer.’ The fact that I’m at least half Māori doesn’t seem to make any difference if you don’t write about Māori themes. As far as I’m concerned if it suits me to write about Māori themes I’ll do it. But if I want to write instead about the plight of the very poor in India, or the plight of the Kanaks in Noumea before the failed rebellion there, I’ll do that. I don’t feel obliged because I’m Māori to restrict myself to Māori themes. . . . I have to be very careful here because I don’t want to be judgmental about some Māori writers. And I wouldn’t want to turn up my nose about the content of some of their books, you know. But that’s how it is for me and I think that’s how it always will be you see. . . . Being Māori as an artist, whether you’re painting a sun or writing like I am, being Māori it’s more a way of feeling, it’s a way of attitude, rather than of content.
Being Māori was a factor, but only one, in her writing.
John Summers (1916-93), bookman and poet, was born in Westcliff-on-Sea, England and arrived in New Zealand as a child. He grew up in Southland and after leaving Riverton High School moved to Christchurch where he won the affection of Ursula Bethell, who wrote him a number of affectionate and openhearted letters. She became his mentor. He became involved in the art world and the literary scene and wrote poetry and reviews. He developed his interests further when he opened his second-hand bookshop in 1958. Situated at No. 10 Chancery Lane, it was run by Summers and his wife Connie until 1983. It became a meeting-place for literary people. Summers produced eight collections of poetry, a novel and a memoir. He also published two of JKB’s poems in broadsheet form. A warm, sensuous, hospitable, enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable man, he enjoyed the company of writers and artists and shared his hospitality and enthusiasms with them.
Greville Texidor (1902-64), formerly Foster, was born in Wolverhampton, England. Her father was a barrister who committed suicide after being involved in some form of political scandal. Her mother was an artist who travelled from Auckland to London to study art. Greville was a beautiful young woman and became a model for and lover to Augustus John. She travelled through Europe and the United States with her sister Kate and danced in the Bluebell Girls chorus line. One of her lovers was a German contortionist. For two years she danced at the New York Winter Garden. She married an Englishman.
In 1929 she married Manolo Texidor, a Spanish industrialist, whom she met in Buenos Aires. He had competed internationally as a long-distance road cyclist. They had a daughter, named Cristina. In 1933 they returned topage 493 Spain where she had a torrid affair with her tutor, a German named Werner Droescher (1911-78). When the civil war broke out in 1936 they ‘married’, joined the militia, and fought in the front lines before getting involved in relief work. After the defeat of the internationalists she and Droescher escaped to England where they were interned because of their German connections. They were allowed to go to New Zealand, arriving in May 1940. At first they were restricted to a small farm at Paparoa, in a remote area in Northland, but in December 1941 they were permitted to make a home in Auckland’s East Coast Road in a house owned by her mother Mrs Foster (other residents were her sister Kate, and her sister’s daughter), although restrictions still applied. In 1942 Werner enrolled at Auckland University College for a BA. He completed his MA in German in 1944.
Greville wanted to write and became a friend of Frank Sargeson who persuaded her to use her experiences as a resource for her stories. She was capable of handling herself and, according to Sargeson, in 1946, at a party Lowry put on to welcome Glover to Auckland, the drunken poet got under her skin in the kitchen, taunting her about Franco cleaning up the internationalists. She threatened him with a carving knife and he got out of the way. She published stories in New Zealand New Writing (1942-45) and in Speaking for Ourselves, the 1945 collection edited by Sargeson. Her best piece of writing was These Dark Glasses, a novella, published by the Caxton Press in 1949. She left New Zealand suddenly and unexpectedly in 1948, leaving a husband and one of two daughters behind. Her husband later joined her for a time before returning to teach at Auckland University. Greville kept a home in Sydney but spent most of her time in Spain. She died in Australia in September 1964 after dressing in black and overdosing on sleeping tablets.
J[ohn] E[dward] P[almer] Thomson became a lecturer on the staff of Victoria University of Wellington, where he co-founded the New Zealand Literature course with Frank McKay. He wrote the New Zealand Writers and Their Work monograph on Denis Glover for Oxford University Press (Wellington, 1977) and was the author of New Zealand Drama, 1930-1980: an illustrated history (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1984).
J[ohn] M[ansfield] Thomson (1926-99), music scholar and editor, was born in Blenheim. In Wellington he became a friend of Alistair Campbell, who dedicated four poems to him. From the late 1940s he travelled several times to England where he settled in London in the early 1960s. While in England he edited the journal Early Music until he returned to New Zealand in 1983. He wrote A Distant Music: The Life and Times of Alfred Hill (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1980) and the Oxford History of New Zealand Music (1991).page 494
Judith Todd (1943- ) was the daughter of the New Zealand-born politician and statesman Garfield Todd who was prime minister of Southern Rhodesia from 1953 to 1958. Because of his liberal attitudes to the indigenous African community he was forced out of office by his own party members. When Todd wanted to leave the country to teach at Edinburgh University he was put under house arrest by the Smith regime. In 1972 he and his daughter Judith were imprisoned a second time. Then she was forced out of the country and the media was banned from mentioning her name. In 1973 her father was awarded a papal medal for justice and peace and he was freed in 1980 when Ian Smith was forced from office. He was knighted by the British Government in 1986 but his and his daughter’s tribulations did not end. His opposition to Robert Mugabe's brutal campaign against Rhodesians caused Garfield Todd to be stripped of his citizenship in 2002, the year he died. Judith returned to Zimbabwe in 1980 but because she condemned the Mugabe regime she also came under attack. Her books include Rhodesia: a study in racial conflict ([Wellington]: New Zealand University Press/Price Milburn & Co., 1969); An Act of Treason, Rhodesia 1965 (Ardbennie, Harare: Longman, 1966); The Rhodesia of Mr Smith (Sydney: University of Sydney, Department of Adult Education, 1970); and The Right to Say No (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1972), which argued against a proposed settlement between the white Smith regime and the British Government.
Harry [Hugo] Tombs (1874-1966) was the son of a printer. After two years at Christ’s College (1889-90), he became an apprentice printer at Whitcombe and Tombs which, in 1882, merged the Christchurch bookselling business of George Whitcombe and the printing business of George Tombs (Harry’s father). Publishing continued until 1963 when Bertie Whitcombe retired. When Harry turned twenty-one he travelled to Leipzig where he learned violin and piano for three years. He then went to England where he studied art, taught music and became involved in the music scene. After returning to New Zealand in 1907 he was appointed manager of the Wellington branch of Whitcombe and Tombs. From 1945 to 1951 he produced and financed Year Book of the Arts in New Zealand (then called Art in New Zealand). (Its general editor was Harold Wadman, an artist and writer.) Tombs also produced New Zealand Best Poems (1932-43), edited by C.A. Marris, and Music in New Zealand (1931-37), edited by Vernon Griffiths. Tombs was active in the Wellington music scene as a performer, patron and administrator.
Hone Tuwhare (1922-2008) was born in Northland, a member of the Ngāpuhi tribe. He was educated in Auckland and then found work in the railway workshops at Otahuhu where he remained from 1939 to 1944. During the 1950s he worked on Government hydroelectric projects connected withpage 495 the Waikato River. He began writing early but it was only from 1956 that he began writing seriously. From early on he was encouraged by R.A.K. Mason to write and to get involved in trade union administration. The poems he published in the 1950s and 1960s introduced a new register to New Zealand poetry, a mix of rhetoric and the vernacular. His first book, No Ordinary Sun, was acclaimed when it was published in 1964. During the 1970s he became involved in Māori cultural and political affairs and continued to publish poetry. He became Robert Burns Fellow in 1969. Like JKB he received the position for a second year when he was awarded it again in 1974. In 2003 he received one of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. (The other recipients were Janet Frame and Michael King.) By the time he died he was recognised as New Zealand’s greatest Māori writer and an important writer by any standard.
Anton (Tony) Vogt (1914-84), educationalist, poet and short story writer, was born in Norway. He became a lecturer at Wellington Teachers’ Training College (1949-59). His short stories appeared in the NZ Listener between 1947 and 1963 and he published poetry collections including Anti All That (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1940), Poems for a War (1943) and Love Poems (Caxton Press, 1952). He encouraged and supported the Wellington Group of poets, particularly those at training college, including JKB, Louis Johnson, Peter Bland and Alistair Campbell. In 1951 he chaired an open forum at the New Zealand Writers’ Conference in Christchurch. In 1952 his poetry appeared alongside poems of JKB and Johnson in Poems Unpleasant. He eventually moved to Canada where he taught at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Then he moved to Menton where he met a new generation of New Zealand writers who resided there as Katherine Mansfield fellows.
Ranginui Walker (1932- ) was born in Opotiki, a member of the Whakatōhea tribe. He was educated at St Peter’s Māori College before undertaking studies at Auckland Teachers’ Training College and Auckland University. After teaching for ten years in the primary-school system he lectured for five years at Auckland Teachers’ College. In 1967 he was appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland where he completed a PhD in 1970. For fifteen years he held a position in Auckland at the Centre for Continuing Education. But he was not merely an academic. In 1970, after a conference which he organised at Auckland University, Ngā Tamatoa was formed to respond to injustices to Māori, including threats to culture and language. (This was the organisation which JKB supported.) From 1969 to 1990 he was secretary, then chair, of the Auckland District Māori Council. He was also a member of the New Zealand Māori Council and a foundation member of the World Council of Indigenous People. In 1986 he was appointed associate-professor of Māori studies at Auckland University. He becamepage 496 professor and head of department in 1993. In 2003 he was appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal. Author of several important studies of Māori history, education, activism, politics and Treaty of Waitangi issues, his remarkable and distinctive achievements were recognised in 2001 when he was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. His life is told in Paul Spooney’s Mata Toa: the Life and Times of Ranginui Walker (Auckland: Penguin New Zealand, 2009).
Arnold Wall (1869-1966) was appointed to the chair of English at Canterbury University College in 1898, his particular interest being medievalism and philology. (He was not regarded as an electrifying teacher.) In 1901 he married Elsie Curnow, the poet’s aunt. Up to his retirement in 1931 he collected indigenous botanical specimens, as he had done ever since he came to New Zealand, providing many new specimens to the Canterbury museum. His botanical work was much more important than his poetry. After his retirement in 1932 he regularly delivered a popular series of radio broadcasts on ‘The Queen’s English’. His output was prodigious: botanical papers, printed versions of talks, lectures and radio addresses. He also wrote short stories and plays and published several collections of poetry, including New Poems (London: Walter Scott, 1908), the first edition of A Century of New Zealand’s Praise (1912) and London Lost and other poems (Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs, ). His autobiography, Long and Happy, was published by Reed in Wellington in 1965.
Raymond Ward (1925-2003). A collection of his manuscript poetry, art work and sound recordings of his poems is held by the Hocken Library (ARC-0143).
John Edward Weir (1935- ) was born in Nelson on 25 April 1935. He was a pupil at St Joseph’s Convent School and then boarded at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, Heretaunga (1949-53). After a year in Wellington working for the Ministry of Works and attending Victoria University part-time he went to Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Greenmeadows, Hawke’s Bay, to study for the Catholic priesthood. He became a professed member of the Society of Mary on 24 January 1958 and was ordained a priest on 4 July 1961. Afterwards he taught at St Bede’s College, Christchurch, where he resumed part-time university studies. After completing a BA he studied full-time for an MA in English Language and Literature and was awarded First-Class Honours. His programme of studies included a thesis – ‘Man Without a Mask; a Study of the Poetry of James K. Baxter’ (MA thesis, University of Canterbury, 1968). After six months’ teaching at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, and six months at St Patrick’s College, Wellington, he was appointed Lecturer in English at the University of Canterbury. During his tenure he completed a Doctorate ofpage 497 Philosophy in English. His thesis was entitled ‘Five New Zealand Poets; a Bibliographical and Critical Account of Manuscript Material’ (PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, 1974). (The poets studied were Ursula Bethell, Eileen Duggan, R.A.K. Mason, James K. Baxter and Alistair Campbell.) After leaving university he became Rector of St Patrick’s College, Wellington (197682) and, for a short time, managing editor of Zealandia, a Catholic newspaper based in Auckland. Subsequently he held various chaplaincy positions within the Catholic Church. His poetry collections are The Sudden Sun (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1963); The Iron Bush (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1970); a warning against water drinkers (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1974); and Treading Water, Poems 1975-1982 (Dunedin: John McIndoe, 1983). Other publications are The Poetry of James K. Baxter (Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1970); [James K. Baxter] The Labyrinth, some uncollected poems 1944-72 (Chosen by J.E. Weir, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1974); [James K. Baxter] The Bone Chanter, unpublished poems 1945-72 (Chosen and Introduced by J.E. Weir, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1976); The Holy Life and Death of Concrete Grady, various uncollected and unpublished poems (Chosen and Introduced by J.E. Weir, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1976); R.A.K. Mason (New Zealand Writers and their Work, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1970); Collected Poems / James K. Baxter (Edited by John Weir, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1980 [i.e. 1979]); James K. Baxter Selected Poems (Edited by John Weir, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1982); The Essential Baxter (Selected and introduced by John Weir, Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Poems to a Glass Woman (Edited by John Weir, Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2012).
Albert Wendt (1939- ) was born in Apia. He attended New Plymouth Boys’ High School and from there went to Ardmore Teachers’ College and Victoria University where he graduated MA in history. During this period in Wellington he became a friend of JKB. In 1965 he returned to Samoa to teach. He was appointed Principal of Samoa College and then moved to Suva to teach at the University of the South Pacific. He became Professor of Pacific Literature there and pro vice-chancellor. In 1988 he became Professor of Pacific Studies at Auckland University. His first novel was Sons for the Return Home (1973). His second was Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree (1974). His 1979 novel Leaves of the Banyan Tree was widely acclaimed. In 2013 he was appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand.
Patrick [Seymour] Wilson (1926-99) was born in Tauranga and in 1953 completed a PhD at Victoria University. He shifted to London in 1951 and began a teaching career in education and philosophy. He is the author of The Bright Sea (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1951), which was reviewed by Joan Stevens in Landfall (6, 1952: 156). JKB reviewed his Staying at Balisodare,page 498 London, (Scorpion, 1960). In 2002 Alistair Campbell addressed him in ‘Poets in our Youth’.
Hubert Witheford (1921-2000) was the author of The Falcon Mask (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1950). In 1952 he was a contributor (with JKB and Louis Johnson) to Poems Unpleasant. JKB satirised his poetry in ‘Ewig’ in The Iron Breadboard; Studies in New Zealand Writing (Wellington: Mermaid Press, 1957) but he approved of his poetry and referred in Recent Trends in New Zealand Poetry to his Shadow of the Flame: Poems 1942-47 (Auckland: Pelorus Press, 1950), saying that it ‘is of a high standard and draws on European models for its form and Asiatic theology for its dialectic rather than from immediate influences.’ Witheford was also the author of The Lightning Makes a Difference: poems (London: Brookside Press, 1962, and Auckland: Blackwood and Janet Paul, 1963); How Do Things Happen? Eight Poems (London: Flowering Hand Press, 1962); and A Native, Perhaps Beautiful (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1967). A Blue Monkey for the Tomb (London: Faber and Faber, 1994) considered death from the perspective of a man in his seventies. These poems still show evidence of a Buddhist cast of thought.
David McKee Wright (1869-1928), was born in Ireland, the second son of a Presbyterian missionary. At the age of seventeen he travelled to New Zealand in the hope of curing a spot on his lung. He was employed as a shepherd and wrote poems and stories for the Otago Witness and the Christchurch Press. In 1896 Aorangi and Other Verses was published. In 1897 he enrolled at the University of Otago to study for the Presbyterian ministry but poor academic results ensured that he left. In 1897 Station Ballads and Other Verses was published. He married Elizabeth Couper in 1899. Afterwards he undertook a ministry in Timaru but a year or two later his congregation had declined to thirty-seven and he transferred to a parish in Newtown in Wellington. Before leaving he published Wisps of Tussock (1900). Poverty caused him to try the ministry in Nelson but matters did not improve and he was bankrupted in 1907. In 1910 he moved to Sydney and in 1916 he took over the editorship of the Red Page for the Bulletin. After his marriage broke up he had six children with two other women. He left the Bulletin and tried to make a living by writing for the Australian Worker. He died of a heart-attack in 1928, having long survived the spot on the lung which brought him to New Zealand.