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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (June 1, 1936)


One of the most promising results of New Zealand Authors’ Week activities has been the increased output of locally published books. Prominent in such enterprise has been the firm of A. H. and A. W. Reed of Dunedin and Wellington. Their recent books have been largely of the historical order and the enthusiastic reception by press and public proves that the selections have been wise. Incidentally, the historical section of our National library has benefited. The latest production of the firm is “New Zealand Land Problems of the Forties,” by Ethel Wilson, M.A., a most interesting and conscientiously written historical document. The authoress was, for some years, a schoolteacher. She married, and reared a family of six sons. This in itself is a life's work for any woman. Mrs. Wilson, however, recently graduated B.A., gained her diploma in journalism and obtained her M.A. degree with first class honours. This, then, is the energetic, ambitious woman who has given us this story of the land problems of the early settlers. She deals with her subject fearlessly, has her authorities carefully arranged and provides, incidentally, a record of facts for any New Zealander interested in the history of the Dominion. In her preface Mrs. Wilson quotes the Maori proverb “The death of the Warrior is to die for the land.” How this proverb is wrapped up in her story, coupled with the arrival of the land hungry colonists, is revealed in a most readable manner in her book. The volume is well arranged, illustrated and printed. The edition is limited to 500 copies at 10/- each.

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Coincident with New Zealand Authors’ Week the New Zealand Women Writers’ and Artists’ Society published “The Quill,” containing selections in verse and prose from leading members. In a modest foreword the secretary, Miss Nellie Donovan, explains the object of the publication, that of “endeavouring to help writers along the not-too-easy road which leads to the top of the hill.” Quite a creditable booklet.

Bird lovers will be interested in “Birds of Cape York Peninsula,” recently published by A. and R., Sydney. This nicely printed and illustrated booklet contains ecological notes, field observations and catalogue of specimens collected on three, expeditions to North Queensland.

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Of late I have been delving deeply into the life and writings (alas so meagre) of Richard Middleton, whose tragic suicide occurred about twentyfive years ago. The fact that his temperament has been compared with that of another poet, Thomas Chatterton, caused me to buy with eagerness a chastely produced volume of Chatterton's poems that I found in a second hand bookshop at Palmerston North recently. In the course of rehabilitating the volume I was about to erase the pencilled signature of the previous owner when I observed that the inscription was, “John Ballance, Wanganui, 1872.

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On the same country trip I sighted in an auction room a beautifully made box, with a lid of perfectly inlaid wood. I opened it and discovered inside
The book-plate of Mr. A. E. Donne, of Wellington. The designer is W. S. Percy, artist, writer and stare comedian.

The book-plate of Mr. A. E. Donne, of Wellington. The designer is W. S. Percy, artist, writer and stare comedian.

the elaborate mechanism of an old-time music box. It was the finest example of its kind I have seen. It took me many hours to restore it, but at the finish I had the satisfaction of realising that I had purchased, at very moderate cost, one of the most interesting specimens of those delightful old-time creators of melody that I have ever seen.

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Who “discovered” Gloria Rawlinson? I think the honour belongs to Winifred Tennant. Gloria, at the age of eight, and before she had tried her hand at verse-making, came to live under the same roof in Auckland as Winifred Tennant (the “Dawn Lady” mentioned in the dedication of. The Perfume Vendor), and each week-end the “Dawn Lady,” who looked after the cradles in Saturday's issue of “The Sun,” brought home the supplement of that paper, in which was her children's page, “Happy Town.” This strange metropolis was populated by “Sunbeams” (the children themselves) pixie postmen, fantastic people in velvet jackets and tip-tilted shoes, was approached by a secret thoroughfare, Tiptoe Street, and was hailed by children as a suburb of Fairyland!

At that time Gloria's interest was centred in a puppy called “Tango” who eventually discovered that his mistress had become “literary minded” and retreated to the kitchen to make friends with the housekeeper. Great consultations followed, metre was mastered by the simple process of tapping out the beats of a line, and at length the “Dawn Lady,” coming home at night, would be besieged by contributions, many of which showed rare promise. Before long Gloria's poems were being featured in “Happy Town,” with illustrations by Minhinnick, then also on the staff of the paper. Many of them won the verse competitions, and in less than a year Gloria found herself a celebrity, with a mail that the postman declared should have belonged to a film star!

In her wheel-chair she wrote poems about pixies, fairies, and every flower that met her eye, and these were absorbed Saturday after Saturday by “Happy Town.” It was in this page page 50 page 51 that she came under the notice of certain prominent literary people whose interest in her work has not abated.

Thirty of these poems were included in a collection of forty-four, published a few years ago as “Gloria's Book,” now incorporated in her English edition, “The Perfume Vendor.” Gloria is now at work on a book of stories to be published in England.