The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 7 (November 1, 1933)
Among The Books. — A Literary Page or Two
One of the finest Dumas collections in the world has been gathered together by Mr. F. W. Reed of Whangarei, and eventually will be presented to Auckland city. Fortunately, Mr. Reed's encyclopaedic knowledge of Dumas, gathered together during a lifetime of study and research, will not be lost to the world. His “Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas” has just been published by J. A. Neuhuys, London, in a handsome quarto volume of 465 pages. It is a notable literary achievement for this country.
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I bow to no one in my knowledge of the secondhand book geography of New Zealand. While I think I could tell you every worth while old book shop in the country, it was only a few weeks ago that I browsed for the first time in what must be the biggest second hand book emporium south of the line. This is Newbold's of Dunedin who recently transferred to new premises there. It is a bigger bookshop than any I have seen in Australia or New Zealand, and boasts of half a million tomes. The ground floor, as big as a dance hall, is imposing, and contains the cream of the collection. You go to the second floor and here shelves of books reaching to the ceiling, tower around you in corridors. There is another floor above similarly lined and then, if you go to the cellar, which is like a small edition of the catacombs, still the packed shelves surround you, and piled around on the floor are miniature mountains of books waiting to be sorted. It would take a month or more to “do” the place and it should be well worth while, for every other day rare finds are being made. Just the other day an autographed edition of Thomas Bracken's “Flowers of the Free Lands” was discovered there.
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I was pleased to read in the Auckland “Observer” recently a splendid tribute to the literary ability of Hector Bolitho. Belittled for many years by his brother journalists in New Zealand, Bolitho's outstanding ability as a story writer and biographer is now universally recognised. I was pleased also to notice that the writer in the “Observer” quoted from an article I wrote for an Australian journal some years ago pointing out the injustice done to Bolitho by his brother scribes in this country.
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I am often asked—where has the once famous staff of “Aussie” gone? Many artists and writers in N.Z. have pleasant memories of Walter Jago, the editor-in-chief of the notable monthly. Mr. Jago is still in the hurly-burly in Sydney, but engaged mostly in commercial pursuits. A tall chesty man, big brained and big hearted, idealistic and loved by all, he should be grabbed up any day by some discerning publisher for another big editorial job. Miss Megan Sharpe, who was really the lady editor of “Aussie,” and who incidentally is a New Zealander, is now on the publicity staff of David Jones the big drapery people of Sydney. John Barr, who ran so many literary features in the magazine is still free lancing on the other side. G. K. Townshend, the artist, also of this country, is free lancing over the water. From the N.Z. Section of the same paper the most prolific contributor, Bertram Potts, is now a cog in the unemployment relief organisation in Wellington. One of these days I will tell you a rare old secret about Bertram's contributions to “Aussie.” For the rest, two of “Aussie's” best known N.Z. contributors are wedded to this paper. They are Ken Alexander and your humble servant “Shibli.”
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Interest in book collecting is steady in the Dominion. The prices of New Zealand works have been affected to little or no extent by the depression. These old N.Z. books are always worth looking out for in second-hand bookshops. From time to time I will quote in these pages current auction prices realised. Bethune's, of Wellington, now hold regular sales, largely representative of New Zealand books. The attendances are big and the prices maintain a remarkably high level.
We were discussing recently, the most crushing reply any one of us had received through the rejects columns of various journals. The examples were mostly humorous. One of the best was from “Putman's Book News,” where it was instanced that a poem, entitled “Why Do I Live?” was recently submitted to an harassed editor whose reply was: “Because you sent it by post instead of coming around with it.”
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The Souvenir Programme being produced in connection with the National Confidence Carnival is being edited by Will Lawson.
Dr. Guy H. Scholefield, O.B.E., will shortly publish “Captain William Hobson, R.N.,” the life of the first Governor of New Zealand.
A lady journalist who recently settled in Wellington has already built up a most remunerative free lance connection and yet, they say, the day of the free lance writer is gone.
Miss R. E. Terrv. Announcer for 2 Z.M. Gisborne, is known to many papers in Australia and New Zealand under the nom de plume of “Modestine.”
Some outstanding book plates have been designed recently, by Mr. Russell Clark, the young Dunedin artist.
This year's New Zealand Women Writers' and Artists' Society senior short story competition was won by Miss N. E. Donovan. There were thirty-one entries. The entry of Mrs. Isobel Andrews was adjudged second, Mr. Will Lawson being the judge.
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“Desert Saga,” by William Hatfield (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). In story form this most popular Australian writer gives us a wonderfully descriptive picture of the Australian aborigine. Grungunja, in his boyhood days, his manhood and finally his poetically peaceful death, is the central figure in a story told with a rare knowledge of the life and habits of the rapidly disappearing aborigine. This book is going to be a big seller and might give the suggestion to one of our New Zealand writers to write a similar story of our Maoris. The book sells at 6/-.
“Art in New Zealand” (Harry H. Tombs, Wellington), the September issue (a splendid number) of this outstanding New Zealand quarterly marks the beginning of Vol. 6 of the publication. In his opening editorial, the editor, Mr. C. A. Marris, makes an eloquent appeal to the art loving public to assist the magazine through its most critical period. Indeed I would go further and suggest that this publication is of such cultural value to the country that it is worthy of a State subsidy.
“Jacko the Broadcasting Kookaburra,” by Brook Nicholls (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). Those New Zealand listeners-in who are able to tune in with Australian stations will immediately prick up their ears at the title of this book, for Jacko's laugh is a familiar note in broadcasts across the Tasman. Jacko is so popular that a story of his life and adventures will be read with interest by thousands. Whether you have or have not listened in to him, this book must entertain and Jacko's merry bursts of laughter will crescendo with the human orchestration of laughter from delighted readers. The book is beautifully produced and the illustrations by Dorothy Wall are a feature. Price 4/6.
“The Glories of Milford Sound” by R. W. de Montalk is the title of an attractive scenic booklet recently produced by Harry H. Tombs of Wellington.page 60