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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 12 (March 1, 1937)

Among the Books — A Literary Page or Two

page 39

Among the Books
A Literary Page or Two

Recently I took a good friend of mine to see some of the treasures of the Turnbull Library. We lingered reverently in front of a torn and tattered copy of “Tom Sawyer” (from the library of the late Sir Joseph Kinsey) in which there is an inscription from Mark Twain. I merely looked at the famous signature and did not read what he had penned above. I felt annoyed that such a precious book had not been carefully repaired—not rebound though, for I am too much of a booklover to wish this. I voiced my regret to the assistant librarian, Mr. C. R. H. Taylor. He gently explained, but I am afraid that I was annoyed and was not listening too closely to what he said.

“But,” I persisted, “I would never neglect a precious volume like that.”

“Hadn't you better read the inscription,” gently interrupted the friend who was with me.

I did and I felt foolish when I read Mark Twain's words:—

“Age is disreputable, and a thing to be condemned—humanly speaking: but when an author observes the signs of it in a book of his own in another person's possession he recognises that in that case age is a most respectable thing.

Truly yours,

S. L. Clemens

(Mark Twain).”

* * *

In continuance of its policy of encouraging New Zealand writers, that admirable quarterly “Art In New Zealand” recently held a one-act play competition, the result of which was announced in its December issue. The award for 1936 went to Una Craig with her neat comedy “Family Furore” which is printed in the issue under notice. The entries it was stated were not as numerous as in the previous year, due to the great interest in the Broadcasting Board's Radio Play Competition. In the same issue of the quarterly are four beautiful colour plates of water colours and oils from the Australian Loan Collection, several plates in black and white, a vivid story by Isobel Andrews, also verse and articles.

* * *

Little New Zealand classics is the term I would apply to the “Raupo” series of booklets produced from time to time by Messrs. A. H. & A. W. Read. These booklets, so tastefully produced, deal with historical and biographical matters of Dominion interest. The latest, “The Last of the Ngati Mamoe,” by H. Fildes, is a tabloid account of the first known tribal inhabitants of the South Island. The story is such an interesting one that its readers will regret only one thing and that is that it is so brief. Several excellent reproductions of sketches and photographs enhance the telling of this interesting chapter of our Island history.

* * *

Not many people are aware of the fact that apart from his busy life as managing director of the Hereford Printing Co., and other publishing enterprises, Mr. Phillip Hereford is something of a poet. That this fact is recognised in other parts of the world is evident in “The Spring Anthology
“Hare Hongi,” otherwise Mr. H. M. Stowell, a well-known authority on Maori lore.

“Hare Hongi,” otherwise Mr. H. M. Stowell, a well-known authority on Maori lore.

of 1936,” published by the Mitre Press, London. In this collection are included two unusual poems from Mr. Hereford's pen, and one short poem “Middle Age” is honoured by being reproduced on the front cover. Of the three poems I like “Paradox” best particularly that last line

“The grace of silence when the race is run.”

* * *

Although it was published over a year ago it was only the other day that I came across one of the most delightful and interesting books I have read descriptive of the Dominion. The title is “New Zealand, Land of My Choice,” and the authoress is Mrs. Ellen Roberts. Beautifully printed and illustrated from the well-known publishing house of Allen & Unwin, this book should continue to sell well not only in other parts of the world but in this country also. The book is historical, it is human, and it tells in an easy, pleasant style, of the life and sport and industries of this country. Mrs. Roberts was born in England and has had an adventurous life. She has lived so long in New Zealand, however, that she may be regarded as an adopted daughter, certainly she has adopted us. The book has a foreword by Dr. Harrop, and contains over fifty beautiful photographic reproductions and two maps.

* * *

In contents and general arrangement of the 1937 edition of “The Australian Authors' and Artists' Hand-book,” is a distinct improvement on previous issues. It is almost a necessary item for any free lance writer in New Zealand for it is a sad fact that with the exception of the “New Zealand Railways Magazine” there are very few publications in this country prepared to encourage and pay for contributions in story, verse or articles. This Handbook is a valuable directory for story writers, novelists, film writers, dramatists, radio-writers, artists, poets, photographers and song writers. Not only does it give information as to the requirements and rates paid by leading Australian papers, but it contains practical articles by well-known page 40 writers on many matters of interest to free lancers. The joint editors are Richard Geraint and W. E. FitzHenry. Copies are available from Box 965, Wellington, for 3/- plus postage 2d.

* * *

Warwick Lawrence, the energetic young Auckland writer, is busy on a book dealing with the life of Captain Mein Smith, first Surveyor-General to the New Zealand Company 1839.

* * *

Due for publication shortly by Messrs. Angus and Robertson; “Forty Fathoms Deep,” by Ion L. Idriess; “The Street of the Fishing Cat,” by Jolan Foldes, winner of the All Nations Prize Novel Competition; “The Valley of the Sky,” by Tarlton Rayment; “The Far East Comes Nearer,” by Hessell Tiltman; “Backs to the Wall,” by Captain G. D. Mitchell; “Highly Unsafe,” a novel by Max Saltmarsh; “The Emperor of Ants,” by Luigi Bertelli; “The March of the Goldless,’ by David Simpson.

* * *


“Scapel and Sword,” by Sir James Elliott, M.D. (A. H. and A. W. Reed, Dunedin and Wellington), contains the reminiscences of a New Zealand surgeon. The book teems with interesting experiences dealing with the author's early days in Wellington, his adventures as a medical student at Edinburgh University, his experiences on the staff of a field hospital in the Boer War and later as senior medical officer in the famous Maheno during the Great War. Small wonder that with such great material to work on the author has written a most interesting volume. Sir James displays a keen sense of observation and an encyclopaedic knowledge. His intimate glimpses of a doctor's life provide some of the most interesting chapters.

* * *

“Check to Your King,” by Robin Hyde (Hurst and Blackett, Ltd., London; Whitcombe and Tombs, Ltd., New Zealand agents), is a further revelation of the amazing versatility of New Zealand's most talented writer. Using a “novelist's license,” Robin Hyde has built up a fascinating story of Charles, Baron de Thierry, “King of Nukahiva, Sovereign Chief of New Zealand.” For months “Robin Hyde” has turned over old papers and records in Auckland to reassemble in her characteristic style, a storv that is all the more remarkable because it has been built on fact. She follows the inimitabe Charles from Cambridge to Panama, to the Pacific where he is made King of Nukahiva and then to New Zealand and his “Sovereign Chieftaincy.” The book is better than a modern novel for wrapped up in it is a most interesting biography. Just a word of advice to the reader who may be dismayed by the somewhat embarrassing cleverness of the opening pages. These opening chapters are worth while and lead to an engrossing narrative.

* * *

“Sheep Kings,” by Joyce West (Harry H. Tombs, Wellington), is a well-written, nicely balanced story of love, tragedy and adventure in New Zealand. There is a maturity of style about this writer. The novel deals with the life stories of three generations of Stafford Kings, a fine old English family, the surviving descendent of which emigrates to New Zealand in the days of 1841. He marries a half-caste Maori maid, who meets her death with two of her family of three in the Te Kooti outrages. The father and the son remain, but the latter brings tragedy into their lives. Another of the line of Stafford Kings is born, but shadows follow fast on the sunlight. All the time a mighty sheep station is growing and the later Stafford King is the Sheep King who eventually faces bankruptcy in the wool slump of 1930. In an artistic final chapter the authoress shows as the last survivor of the Stafford Kings peacefully and silently going hence as he sits in his chair—just like old Jolyon in “The Forsyte Saga.”

* * *

“Contract Kernels Up-to-Date,” by Myra A. Millingen (Angus and Robertson, Sydney, is the latest word, I believe, in Bridge, and embraces all the recent features of the Culbertson System. This is the fourth edition of a book that has gained high encomiums from Bridge experts in England, America and Australia.

The Thirteenth Clue.

(Continued from page 37)

The Voice growled back: “It's curtains for you. Lauder, that psalm-singing, beer-swilling, first edition collecting boob, died in that chair. We are the Matamata Killers!”

Lloyd shrieked. He shrieked again, when he was crowned with a leather cap …

The Atmosphere Was Electrical.

He pleaded for mercy, for release on probation, for anything but the juice. He knew it would be horribly uncomfortable for him when the current jammed him into the straps. And the electrodes would leave scars on his Lux'd fair skin.

He screamed “spare me, and the world is mine—and yours. Give me

another chance, and I'll quit the Force and go straight for all time.”

“Lauder couldn't take it standing up,” went on the Thug irrelevantly. “So we fixed him up in this chair. Later we carted him over to the signal cabin. Then to his aide-de-camp somewhere:

“All set, brother? Goodo. Switches oiled? Fine. Stand by!”

The Unspeakable moved lumberingly toward the switchboard … Lloyd shrieked like a doe hit with a soft-nosed .22 … There was a crash at the window…

Two-gun P.C. Fanning came through, his eyes blazing, his automatics roaring… (To be continued).