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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 5 (September 1, 1933)

Among The Books. — A Literary Page or Two

page 54

Among The Books.
A Literary Page or Two

The recent advent of a New Zealand book publishing company, the Associated New Zealand Authors’ Publishing Company, reminds me that one of the books published in Wellington a few years ago by the ill-fated publishing company, Fine Arts (N.Z.) Ltd., recently brought over #3 at auction. This was Volume 1 of “Legends of the Maori,” by James Cowan. It was the most ambitious effort of Fine Arts, and was to run four volumes. Unfortunately only one volume was published, and as the auctioned book was simply the library edition of the original work, it can be imagined that the original signed edition which was bound in full leather and signed by Mr. Cowan, Sir Maui Pomare and the artist, Stuart Peterson, must now be very valuable. In each volume of the original work, also, was a signed etching by Peterson. In time this uncompleted work must rank as one of the greatest and most interesting book rarities in New Zealand. Less than 300 copies were printed.

* * *

“The Northlander,” published in the Far North, is the latest in the long list of Depression casualties. The publishers announce, however, that it has only temporarily discontinued publication. Its one-time lady editor, Margaret Macpherson, is now in Wellington free lancing, and giving occasional talks over the wireless. Mrs. Macpherson is a clever journalist and critic, and at times has written excellent verse. Some of the latter has been set to music and published abroad in song form.

* * *

An interesting addition to my collection of first numbers of periodicals is “The Student,” over which the Victoria University College Professorial Board recently held a troubled meeting. The editor of this little cyclostyled publication was Mr. C. G. Watson, and the fact that he has been reprimanded by the Board and his paper prohibited, makes it worthy of being included in Section I. of my collection.

It has been definitely decided not to publish the “New Zealand Artists’ Annual” this year. This is not because of any difficulty over sales or advertising, but arises out of a point of control. When the “Annual” was launched in 1926, a Sydney printing firm undertook to bear any possible loss, and in the event of a profit to distribute half of same among the contributors. This unusual arrangement was made possible owing to the fact that the editor of the journal was a member of the staff of the publishing house in question. Since the appearance of the 1932 issue the “Annual's” editor has joined another publishing firm and has been unable to secure a definite pronouncement as to whom the “Annual” belongs. This matter will no doubt be amicably settled in time to resume publication in 1934.

* * *

Quite the big event of the year among Wellington bibliophiles is Whitcombe and Tombs annual sale. This is a real sale, at which great bargains are to be picked up. Although not so fruitful as in past years, this year's sale yielded the writer quite a nice little harvest. Rare first editions and autographed copies I have secured in past years were not there this year. Possibly some very early worms were ahead of me. Certainly I noticed on my first visit two or three book fiends whose triumphant smiles and bookladen arms told me a tale of possible bargains I had lost. If there's a first day queue next year I will be there.

* * *

I am not sure whether it is R. A. Loughnan or Patrick Galvin, of Wellington, who holds the long distance record in the newspaper world in New Zealand. Both are still hale and hearty. Patrick Galvin I met lately ambling along Featherston Street, revelling in the keen clean air of a bright winter's day. Some years ago Mr. Galvin had the pleasure of denying his reported death. At the same time he appreciated the hundreds of letters and telegrams of sympathy that poured into his home.

page 55

Stories about John Norton and his eccentricities are legion. Here is, I believe, a comparatively new one. In one of his fulminations against the powers that were, he introduced the Thirty Tyrants of Athens. The compositor set it as “The Trusty Tyrants,” and good old John made the building tremble with his curses. However, the mistake was only in the proof, but when the unfortunate compositor re-translated the correction into “The Thirsty Tyrants,” John emerged from his office, howling like a Dervish in the D.T's. “The blank, blank, blanks!” he yelled, “can't they think of anything but blank, blank beer?”

* * *

We were telling stories the other day about poor old Charlie Norman, who was one of the brilliant staff attached to the “New Zealand Times” just about the latter portion of the war period. Mentally I filed a number of them for a future book of reminiscences. Here is one of the best. Charlie was down for the Anglican Synod, and fortifying himself for a long dry session, arrived at the Synod and found Bishop —doing a marathon with his opening address. A minute's listening-in convinced Charlie there was no copy in it, and he promptly fell asleep. When he woke up an hour later, the Bishop was still going strong. Charlie looked around with a sleepy smile, and murmuring in an audible whisper that could have been heard even by his Lordship, “Why old—is still going,” promptly went to sleep again.

* * *

A reader writes asking me what is a “blurb?” A “blurb” is a bovrilised description of a book appearing in a publisher's list, on the jacket of the book, or in the advance information sent to the publisher's representatives or to the Press.

* * *

Just had a letter from Jack Gilmour, one time cartoonist for “New Zealand Truth” and later “Free Lance.” Jack, who is now in London, has gone in for song-writing, and has had two short talkie subjects based on his efforts, “The Trumpeters of the King” and “I've Found a Four Leafed Clover.” He has also appeared in his own short talkie, drawing caricatures.

* * *

Editorial Eavesdroppings.

There is a possibility of an amalgamation of the interests of the Christchurch “Press” and Christchurch “Sun,” each paper retaining its separate identity as morning and evening papers respectively.

Ken Alexander is launching out as a free lance artist and writer.

The Kellie Service is a new organisation, of which much will be heard shortly in the Press world.

A bright, snappy magazine will be run in conjunction with the coming National Confidence Carnival in Wellington.

* * *


“The Sow's Ear,” by Bernard Cronin (Endeavour Press, Sydney). A sad, sombre story of the bush. It is vital, it is gripping; but is the back-blocks community as morally depraved as Mr. Cronin suggests? I hope not. I know it is not in New Zealand. The central character, June, is a beautiful creation, but do angels live in pigstyes of moral debauchery? And yet the author makes her live and is able to write a modern type of story without being ultramodern.

“The Golden Jubilee Book of Auckland University.” As a sample of beautiful printing this commemorative work ranks very high. Format, layout, illustrations, letterpress, all must please the eye, and the touch of the connoisseur. The letterpress is in keeping with the high standing of the production, and is descriptive mostly of the half-century of high achievements of the institution.

“The Treaty of Waitangi.” In reviewing this book last issue I overlooked mentioning the fact that the marketing of the volume for Wellington province is in the capable hands of Innes and MacGregor Ltd., of Lambton Quay.

A Less Competitive Industry.

Few people are aware of the fact that there is an annual market in countries of the Southern Hemisphere for over £30,000,000 worth of softwoods, paper and pulp, yet there is not a pulp mill south of the line, because at present there is not a sufficiently large stand of accessible softwood forest to warrant the establishment of a pulp mill. New Zealand's greatest competitors in marketing primary products will become her best customers when N.Z. Perpetual Forests, Ltd., establishes the pulping industry in the near future.*