A charismatic ex-soldier, orator and propagandist, John A. Lee was a dynamic figure in the Labour Party from the 1920s until 1940, when he was expelled for attacking the leadership of M.J. Savage. Lee had a parallel career as a writer and later bookseller. His best-known novel, the largely autobiographical Children of the poor (1934), was described as a ‘sensational book on vice, poverty, misery’.
Newsweek described her novels as 'the best whodunits ever written'. Ngaio Marsh was also an artist, playwright, actor and director. The New York Times called her New Zealand's best-known literary figure.
Marsh was regarded as one of ‘Queens of Crime’ in the 1920s and 1930s. Her international acclaim was based on 32 detective novels published between 1934 and 1982, all of which featured the British detective Roderick Alleyn. All but four were set in England; in the four set in New Zealand, Alleyn was on secondment to the New Zealand police.
James K. Baxter was one of New Zealand's best known and best loved poets. In his short life he produced a huge number of poems, as well as plays, literary criticism, and social and religious commentary. A hugely influential figure, Baxter was as well known for his life as for his writing.
Mixing alcohol and weapons is
frowned upon by modern duck hunters who are more safety conscious than their
forebears. Contemporary duck hunters also use non-toxic shot (it used to be
lead) as hunter Gary Girvan
explains in his book Duck hunting in New Zealand.
The story of New Zealand
writing wouldn't be complete without acknowledging the important role sport has
played as a source of inspiration for many New Zealand writers. For some
writers sport is a subject of loathing, but the reality is Kiwis can't seem to
get enough of sports books.
John A. Lee was a
dynamic figure in the Labour Party from the 1920s until 1940. But Lee had a
parallel career as a writer and later bookseller. His best-known novel,
the largely autobiographical Children of the poor (1934), was described
as a ‘sensational book on vice, poverty, misery'.
Helen Shaw's 50-year career as a creative writer began in the 1930s, when she was strongly influenced by the literary nationalist writing of the day. A growing interest in mysticism and spirituality led her to pursue a more personal kind of art.
A selection of stories about the history of Kiwi writing, writers and books – one for each day of NZ Book Month.
Ponga and Puhihuia
'Surely the best of all the Maori stories', is how Margaret Orbell, then editor of the magazine Te Ao Hou, described the tale of the impetuous 17th-century lovers Ponga and Puhihuia. The story describes an illicit romance taking place in a world of desperate canoe voyages, flamboyant dances, cunning deception and hand-to-hand combat.