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'Strangled by a bad tradition'? The work of Eve Langley.

IN OCTOBER 1940, Eve Langley of Auckland, New Zealand, emerged as one of the winners in a prestigous literary competition in the popular Sydney magazine The Bulletin. (1) This was an amazing victory for a young struggling Australian-born woman writer in Auckland, and her future career looked promising. Langley's prize-winning novel, The Pea-Pickers, was published two years later in Sydney to wide acclaim. Langley came to New Zealand as a young woman and stayed for twenty-eight years (1932- 1960). During that time she published many poems and another novel, White Topee (1954), but she never fulfilled her early literary promise. Although there has been renewed interest in Langley in Australia, her name has disappeared almost completely from view in recent accounts of New Zealand literature. (2)

The following is an attempt to understand what happened to Eve Langley and to argue for a re-evaluation of Langley in the context of New Zealand literature and for an acceptance of her as a New Zealand as well as Australian writer. Personal problems played a vital role in her disappearance from view, but her eclipse from the New Zealand literary scene must also be seen as a function of her contemporary society's prejudiced and narrow views of women, her Australian national identity and the perceived (male) role of the writer. Factors such as gender, nationality, timing and changing literary traditions must, once again, be brought in to explain the demise of a woman writer.

The main reason for including Eve Langley in New Zealand literary history is the simple fact that she was part of it. She wrote almost all her work in New Zealand. Her Georgian verses attracted the same negative criticism from the new literary establishment as other New Zealand writers such as Robin Hyde, Gloria Rawlinson and Eileen Duggan, and her wild and lyrical book The Pea-Pickers was written in New Zealand in the late 1930s, and is a female variety of a New Zealand classic theme, the 'Man Alone'. Her still unpublished manuscripts, dealing with life in New Zealand and particularly with scenes from literary life in Auckland, would be of considerable interest for the New Zealand public if published.

The case of Eve Langley highlights the difficulties in constructing and recording 'literary history'. The criteria for assigning a writer a place in a national literature, for example, can be both prejudiced and narrow, and are often unnecessarily normative. As a small nation with many migrant writers, both immigrants and emigrants, New Zealand has reasons to be extra generous in the way it designs its literary 'home'. Why can not a writer be recognized as a product of and thus part of several national communities? Eve Langley is an example of someone who was part of both Australian and New Zealand literature, and thus would deserve a place in the memory and literary history of both countries.

Eve Langley was born in Forbes, NSW, Australia in 1904, as the eldest daughter to Arthur and Maria (Mira) Langley. (3) Her only sister, June, was only one year younger, and the two sisters developed an extremely complex and intimate relationship. The poverty and deprivations in the family's life were counterbalanced by the lively imagination of the two sisters. They made up endless stories and lived imaginary lives, creating their own literary world--recalling the childhood of the young Bronte and Frame sisters. The father died when Eve was only ten years old, and the mother remarried the following year. At this time Mira Langley managed a little bush pub, and her young daughters observed and imitated the bushmen characters frequenting the bar. Eve Langley was to be torn between male and female roles throughout her life. The dreams and lyrical outpourings of the adolescent girl were to continue in the life of the mature woman, constantly blurring the outlines between life and fiction.

In 1925 the two sisters, dressed as men, went pea-picking in Gippsland. This time was cherished by Langley as the 'Primavera' of her life. Both The Pea-Pickers and White Topee arose directly from life experience. Langley's roleplaying confusion, however, slowly became obsessive in her life. It seems that she saw masculinity as equating freedom and creativity--something she desperately wanted in her life--at the same time as she was drawn to the traditional romantic female role.

In 1932, when Eve Langley was twenty-eight years old, she left Australia and came to New Zealand, joining her mother and sister in Wellington. Her unpublished first 'novel' called 'Land of The Long White Cloud' chronicles her 'wild wanderings from Paekakariki to Wanganui'. (4) While in Paekakariki she managed to place pieces with the Evening Post (Wellington)--whose editor C. A. Marris became a staunch friend and supporter, the Freelance, and the N Z Railways Magazine. She later moved to Wanganui, where she wrote social columns for the Wanganui Herald and continue to publish poetry and prose.

Her professional contacts seemed good. One of them was Douglas Stewart, a lifelong admirer and friend--and later editor of the literary page in The Bulletin in Sydney. At this time Eve Langley was outgoing and exuberant, and had not yet become isolated, eccentric and increasingly confused: 'She knew everyone and made a point of knowing them', said her friend, the New Zealand poet Henry Brennan. (5)

In 1935 Eve Langley moved to Auckland and settled in Ponsonby. A year later she met the painter Hilary Clark (brother of Russell Clark), who lived in a windmill called 'Partington's Mill', near Symonds Street. He was a struggling artist, who lived for his art and music and whose only income came from teaching part time at Elam School of Fine Arts. They married in 1937. Then in 1940, in a desperate race against time and circumstances, Langley managed to finish The Pea Pickers and send it to The Bulletin. Winning the prize gave much needed money and instant fame in Australia. The Australian literary critic Nettle Palmer, who tried to help and encourage women writers especially, wrote immediately and wanted to know more about her. Langley answered:
 I am thirty-two. I was born in Forbes, NSW, and have worked on
 labour gangs with men since leaving school, and dressed as a man
 have wandered about living in the bush until the Depression drove
 one coward away from the country. In this country where there is
 not much work, like Australia, I had a hell of a time living on the
 sale of poetry and sorrow. Not in huts here I lived but in a garret
 near an old mill ... and across the lane lived a young artist in a
 naked studio. And they drove us out of the granary so that we had
 to amalgamate and did so sealing the bargain with three seals; a
 girl, a boy and an unknown due in October. That is the story. (6)

Eve Langley continued to publish both poems and short stories in periodicals in New Zealand, although the practical difficulties surrounding her early married life with small children were considerable. The marriage was disastrous, both emotionally and economically. It is remarkable that the two works that won Langley her greatest praise in Australia, the novel The Pea Pickers and the poem 'Native Born', were both written during a time of great difficulties and abject poverty:.

During her time in Auckland Langley met many writers: among her friends were Ruth Park, Robin Hyde and Henry Brennan. But shortly after her first novel was published (and her third baby born), in an extremely difficult marital and economic situation, her health broke down, and she was committed to Auckland Mental Hospital, diagnozed as a schizophrenic. She was to stay there for seven years. After that period she learnt book-binding and worked at the Auckland Public Library for five years. In 1954 another novel, White Topee, was published in Sydney. Eve Langley continued to write at a furious pace, submitting her manuscripts to Angus and Robertson in Sydney, but the new manuscripts were felt to be too subjective and too far from the traditional concepts of the novel and were not considered possible to publish. She finally returned to Australia in 1960. Until her death in 1974 Eve Langley lived in a cottage in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in NSW as a recluse. She was found, lying dead inside her hut, by Douglas Stewart's daughter Meg. (7)

Seen in retrospect Eve Langley's life seems tragic. An early original lyrical talent, she had been encouraged and increasingly recognized as a writer, her literary success culminating with the Bulletin prize in 1940. Her friend and mentor Douglas Stewart was confident of an even wider recognition after her remarkable achievement:
 The prize will be doing both Eve Langley and Australian and M.L
 literature a service if it leads--as it well may--to the
 publication of her poems as well as Pea-Pickers, for her verse,
 unknown except to readers of The Bulletin and New Zealand Best
 Poems and never yet published in book form, is of outstanding
 quality. (8)

However, this was not to happen. By the time the novel was published Eve Langley had disappeared into a psychiatric ward and thus from public view. Her poems were never collected in a separate volume. Her work, although she managed to publish another novel and some poems, were not taken seriously. What happened to Eve Langley's work? Why was her literary promise not fulfilled? Why has New Zealand allowed her to disappear so completely from view?

If we begin by looking at the circumstances of Eve Langley's sudden disappearance from the literary scene in 1942, the most obvious reasons were her own personality problems and her severe mental breakdown. The confusion and personality split noticeable already in her youth increased in the late 1930s until a probably unavoidable crisis demanded professional attention. Langley's institutionalisation was an experience from which she never fully recovered. However, many of her friends

remember her as an unusually charming, witty and loveable person, and several argue that her breakdown and subsequent hospitalization were unnecessary and precipitated by total lack of support in a disastrous marriage, outrageous living conditions and severe economic stress at that time. Gloria Rawlinson saw her as being born into the wrong age. 'Not mad, just out of gear with the times'. (9)

In her writing Eve Langley reveals the low self-esteem and deep need of love so common in women writers. She felt basically unloved, insecure of who she was or what role she should play, and she craved to be the recipient of a constant and unselfish love to be able to live. By writing she created a feeling of being loved. Loving and writing were connected in her mind as aspects of the same matrix. Other women writers, such as Christina Stead, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Robin Hyde and Katherine Mansfield have all expressed similar thoughts.

In the beginning of the largely autobiographical novel The Pea-Pickers, Eve, the narrator, sketches a self-portrait:
 I knew that I was a woman, but I thought I should have been a

 I knew that I was comical but I thought I was serious and
 beautiful, as well. It was tragic to be only a comical woman when I
 longed above all things to be a serious and handsome man.

 The third point of my consciousness was a desire for freedom,
 that is, never to work.

 The fourth was a desire, amounting to obsession, to be loved.
 I suffered from it, as others suffer from a chronic delicacy of
 health. It haunted my sleep and impeded my waking hours. (p. 6)

This is as much a description of Eve Langley herself, as of the pea-picker Eve/Steve. The ensuing tensions created the blurring of the boundaries between life and fiction that is so evident in both her two published novels and the unpublished journals and novels. Some feminist critics would see women's fluid ego-boundaries as being expressed in their writing as a disregard for plot and genre conventions, a crossing of the lines between lyric and narrative and the use of a loose, 'subjective', impressionistic literary style. While male readers may see this as an irritating lack of clarity and form in their work, it is accepted by female readers as an adequate expression of female difference. Sylvia Ashton-Warner is another woman writer with similar literary style and objectives, who suffered much in the hands of male reviewers. It is also female critics who have 're-discovered' Langley in the 1980s. Robin Hyde praised Eve Langley's 'vividly-enamelled command of words', and found it 'as good as anything in New Zealand', but she also saw some of the problematic excesses in style:
 Eve Langley's problem with words is to fend them off, get rid of
 them, forget and forego their beauty, otherwise her meaning may
 choke in a cloud of butterflies which would be an exquisite way to
 die, but too soon for anyone with her gift. (10)

The Pea-Pickers was and is loved as an Australian epic, but the novel can today also be read as a post-modernist text, a bricolage or interplay of realism, satire and romance in a heightened, slightly surrealistic literary style.

Eve Langley's literary career suffered because of her gender in different ways. Although she literally tried to become 'one of the boys', she never could of course, and she was classified and criticised as a 'woman writer'. Although she had supportive mentors, they were not part of the emerging literary establishment and she was deeply hurt by the general sexism at the time, both in her private and professional life. Her main problem with gender, however, was early and internalised, a reaction to society's confining female roles. Thwaite is very good in discussing this side of Langley in the biography:
 Langley's role-playing confusion ... was ostensibly frivolous in
 the 1920s. It became obsessive in White Topee and in her own life.
 For her, the main problem lay in what she understood to be
 society's equation of masculinity with freedom and creativity....
 Langley, in her thirties, was to succumb to marriage in an attempt
 to fulfil the 'female' side of her nature, with disastrous
 results.... Predictably, she chose to dress as a boy, act as a boy,
 and to carry on with rather fraught love affairs as a consequence.

 Langley found a partial solution to the problem in the assumption
 of a male persona. (11)

The problem of gender was thus part of her life from the beginning, creating tension and confusion in her private life and being responsible for the lack of control and uninhibited imaginative flights of much of her writing. Later in life she assumed the role of Oscar Wilde and even changed her name to Wilde. However, assuming the name and persona of Oscar Wilde .was not dictated by a feeling that a male pseudonym would enhance her chances in the literary world. It seems to have developed more from a deep feeling of sympathy with this suffering, ostracized, homosexual author and as a part of her penchant for role-playing and cross-dressing.

Eve Langley's lack of serious literary success in New Zealand also had to do with 'bad timing'. Her debut in 1932 coincided with the publication of Phoenix, and the articulation of new literary ideas. Langley continued to write in the 'debased' Georgian style, so hated by the new male writers. At the time of Phoenix the women poets were seen as exemplifying The Kowhai Gold collection of 'sentimental, faded Georgian work, away in fairyland, full of archaisms'. (12) Langley's early poetry was indeed often romantic, but not only in imitation of earlier poets. Her talent for language, from her childhood used to cover up deficiencies, emotional and others, in her life, was often used to create a more romantic and more beautiful fantasy world for herself. Her lyrical outbursts were flights from a frightening and overwhelming daily existence. A tauter, more controlled form and a more direct expression of experienced reality were not her aims. Perhaps it should also be pointed out that, like many Australians, she was influenced by the Australian artist Norman Lindsay and his ideas about earthiness, the irreducibility of passion and the classical world. When Lindsay liked The Pea-Pickers and praised it as 'a book that will live', Langley was ecstatic: 'The name, lad, the name', she wrote to Stewart. (13) However it was the wrong male model--Norman Lindsay was not a 'name' in New Zealand.

Almost immediately after Langley arrived in New Zealand, she started publishing, like most other poets, in newspapers and magazines, and wherever she could place her poems. In 1936, when Eve Langley moved to Auckland she became friends with Gloria Rawlinson and Robin Hyde, and through them she was to hear about other New Zealand writers such as A. R. D. Fairburn and Frank Sargeson. With C. A. Marris as mentor, her poetry also made his collections of New Zealand Best Poems between 1932-43. Unwittingly she thus became involved in the bitter dispute between Denis Glover and C. A. Marris and the ensuing friction between the male literary establishment and the women writers.

Denis Glover and A. R. D. Fairburn and several other male poets were upset at what Fairburn has called the 'Menstrual School of Poetry', and they laid the blame for the success of women writers on C. A. Marris and his annual Best Poems series. Glover felt that Marris was 'leading New Zealand's poetry along the daisied path of pallid good taste'. (14) Marris was deeply hurt and retaliated. Glover then published a lampoon called 'The Arraignment of Paris', dedicated to 'backscratchers and rhubarb eaters everywhere'. (15) Eve Langley was especially mentioned as one of the despised poets in the opening of the poem:
 Come down, Sweet Muse, come down! You
 mustn't roam
 in realms where Gloria finds herself at home,
 in realms where Eve with inky footsteps goes
 leading the dimpled cloudlets by the nose.
 [italics added]

What Glover later in the poem called 'that Siren-Circe sweet soprano choir' consisted of Gloria Rawlinson, Eve Langley and Eileen Duggan. Robin Hyde figured in the poem as 'one who's fairly good/ a desolate star, a Robin Hood'. Gloria Rawlinson wrote a protest letter, using some well-known lines from Eileen Duggan:
 We are but wanderers in Hinterland
 Too few for linking hands. (16)

This not only reveals how isolated and vulnerable the women writers felt, but also that this literary fight was primarily between emerging and established male writers--and the issue at stake was the creation of a new (male) post-colonial voice. The women were few, powerless, disorganized and supposedly searching for their own, by definition marginalised, (female) voice. Only days after this quarrel Robin Hyde left on her last voyage, and not long after that Eve Langley disappeared forever into her own confused private world.

Eve Langley went down to the docks when Robin Hyde left on S. S. Changte, 18 January 1938. When the boat had left, Langley sat desolate on the wharf wearing, in her own words, 'the saddest face in the whole world'. (17) Robin Hyde had been helpful with personal criticism and generous with mentions of Langley in her literary articles, and she left a serious void in Langley's world after her death in 1939. Eve Langley had not known Hyde long, but their friendship was important to them both. Langley's tribute to Robin Hyde, the poem 'Thaumantias', was published in The Bulletin. In the opening lines the vulnerability of Robin Hyde is well described and the poem reveals much of the sensitivity, imagination (and black humour) of Langley herself:
 Here are her letters. At the rainbow's death,
 Before the storm came blackly on. I found them
 The large but submissive 'I's' she made; the
 Of verse upon the envelope around them. (18)

When the fight against 'The Kowhai Gold poets' was articulated in Mien Curnow's anthology A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923-1945, it was clear that it was the local idiom and the local scene that was to forge the new identity. It is lamentable that the post-colonial struggle for a new identity had to be fought also along gender lines. James K. Baxter suggested that women poets in New Zealand at this time, however talented, were 'strangled by a bad tradition'. (19) Why were not the male poets 'strangled' as well? Presumably because they found a new voice to express their place and time. But to write about the local, the here and now, was no more difficult for women than for men. The problem with the new tradition was that the experience reflected had to be male. This has increasingly been recognized by critics. Patrick Evans writes: 'The problem for women, though, was not that their youthful work was worse than men's but that the model being offered as an alternative--the Curnow-Holcroft myth, in effect--was essentially inadequate to them at the time.' (20) The fact that the New Zealand identity was to be a male one obviously baffled the women writers. This expectation was forcing them to imitate or identify with men. Both Robin Hyde and Eve Langley were to write fiction about 'mates'.

The demand to be 'local' and specific was not in itself a problem for Eve Langley. But she had to write about the 'right' local scenes. Langley was an Australian by birth and temperament. She was happy to be a regional writer, and her obvious infatuation with and her lyrical descriptions of the country of her birth earned her a special reputation in Australia. The Pea Pickers came at the right time in Australia, with its nostalgia for the bush (and mateship), and is still seen as a minor Australian classic. (21) Eve Langley is not forgotten in Australia. Another one of her short, deft and evocative pieces painting a fresh image of the Australian landscape and its ambience, was recently published for the first time:
 There was the yellow morning canvas of Australia, painted with
 green leaves and golden flowers, the drought birds, the magpies'
 dry high warble, the kookaburras' laughter, and black cockatoos and
 rain. A man whistled to his dog and called Tip Tip and that is the
 morning in the miles of silent blue gum bush.... (22)

Nature was the one deep love of Langley's life which never caused her anguish, and which sustained her throughout her life. Had she stayed in Australia she might have emerged as one of Australia's leading nature poets.

But Eve Langley chose instead to come to New Zealand and to write about her new country: She was enthusiastic about her new country and appreciated its ethnicity. During her first years she visited the Ratana Pah and when she wrote about Maori themes, she displayed a deep fascination and empathy with the Maori world. She often portrayed the Maori as lost and angry men, as in the poem 'The Death of Te Omeka', lamenting the death of Ratana's son, and in 'Black Sticks' (1933), when a grief-stricken Maori sees 'the passing of a race':
 And Hotu laughed, but up behind his eyes
 Leapt misery and pride and mock of death
 And some strange savage thought that caught his
 And stood there in his face as sharp and clear
 As broadened blade and shade of passing spear. (23)

At this time Langley also wrote plays, and in 1934 she won Art in New Zealand's yearly One Act Play Competition with her play 'The Hiding of the Moa', again with a Maori theme. Langley continued to have an interest in Maori people for many years.

Although Eve Langley gave each of her countries its regional fiction, she was herself always seen as an Australian in New Zealand. It is striking that when Robin Hyde mentioned Eve Langley in her articles, she used expressions such as Eve Langley '(Auckland, formerly Queensland)' or 'Eve Langley, a girl from a peasant community in Gippsland'. (24) For migrant writers the lost country is often also the country of a lost childhood and youth, and the longing for a younger self becomes entangled with remembrance of place. This was so for Eve Langley. Her time as 'Steve' in Gippsland became the highlight of her life, a time she returned to again and again, both in her thoughts and in her writing.

In retrospect it is abundantly clear that, although Langley might not have realised it at the time, both her nationality and her gender worked against her. There was a strong prescriptive element in the promotion of New Zealand literature during these years. Langley's timing seemed to be doubly wrong--her poetry was attacked for being Georgian (and female), 'leading the dimpled cloudlets by their nose', at the same time as her novel, bursting with 'local' colour, expressed the 'wrong' place (Australia).

To write about nature was not enough--you had to be a 'bloke' and describe his life. Eve Langley was unusual because, as she had internalised masculine values early, she had her unusual experiences in the Australian outback to draw on in her writing. But before she published anything about her life as a 'male' pea-picker in Australia, she wrote a short story set in New Zealand using the same characters, the two sisters dressed as men and called Steve and Blue. The story was published in New Zealand in December 1937. (25)

It begins with the laconic sentence: 'It was our first day in New Zealand'.

Steve and Blue arrive at a little hotel north of Wellington, called 'The Long White Cloud'. They talk to the men in the bar, and marvel at some pieces of kauri gum, even writing down the Maori names that they hear which fascinate them, before continuing on their way the next morning. This story can be seen as a prologue to The Pea-Pickers, revealing Langley's literary originality in a post-modernist mixture of realism, lyricism and irony--a combination that would lift The Pea-Pickers to national fame in Australia.

This short story was written at the same time as Robin Hyde's The Godwits Fly and Nor The Years Condemn. Marginalised women writers were obviously (unconsciously?) trying to hide their female identity. and write from a male perspective. In a pivotal scene in The Godwits Fly, Eliza tries to convince Timothy that she too can 'travel and live' and 'sleep out with fuzzy tramps, and steal turnips, and live as Jack London lived':

'I can come too.' 'You can't, a woman couldn't.' I'm not a woman; not for ordinary purposes.' Timothy laughed; 'Can you turn your hair up under a cap?' (Godwits, p. 162)

In her books about Starkie, Passport to Hell and Nor the Years Condemn, Robin Hyde does 'turn her hair up under her cap' and goes tramping not around Europe but around New Zealand--'to join the male subculture, to see every corner of her country; to shake off the restraints of suburban respectability, to explore the life on the road she became a persona for which there was no female type'. (26) The author Iris Wilkinson was concealed behind both her character Douglas Stark and her pen-name Robin Hyde: 'Hyde's identification with Starkie surely owed much to her sense of herself as an outsider, a woman who throughout her life transgressed the implicit social laws that determined the boundaries of a woman's experience'. (27) Christina Stead, another colonial author from this time, was fascinated by the female wanderer or tramp and their gendered limitations:
 There's a glamour of a diabolic, miserable sort attached to
 wandering, unhappy, uneasy, unkind rebel sons; but what about
 daughters-daughters who will not conform have no glamour, respect
 or love: what they have in mind interests no-one.... As it is they
 [women] sit and look at life strangely from behind windows, doors,
 desks, cradles, barriers at railway stations. (28)

It is this suffocating social milieu that more than anything else 'strangled' the women writers at that time.

Eve Langley tried something more radical than Hyde. She becomes 'Steve', an itinerant worker. All important experiences, those of a man, should then be open to her, but in fact her needs and fears are still a woman's. The problem for Langley was that her acceptance of society's devaluation of women was very thorough, and she ended up embodying the world view that made such a devaluation possible. The risk she took with her transvestism, says Marian Arkin, was that as she did not develop a positive sense of her own identity;, instead 'she fills the emptiness inside her with someone else's version of reality'. (29)

In restrospect it is obvious that women writers in the 1930s and 40s were 'strangled' by more than a 'bad tradition'. There was no place for them in a society expecting to arrive at a new post-colonial identity through (male) writers articulating (male) time and place. Eve Langley's version of 'Woman Alone', The Pea-Pickers, is not a tragic book, but its polyphonic voice of lyricism, realism, satire and romantic longing, which expresses the confused identity of Eve/Steve, throws into relief the problem of a woman writer with nowhere to go.

One of Eve Langley's outstanding poems, 'Native Born' was first published in 194o. The poem focuses on a dead kangaroo, 'so like a woman', found dead in the bush. The realistic but tragic portrait of the dead 'native born" animal, seems like a sad and haunting portrait of the writer herself:
 When, golden-lipped, the eagle-hawks came
 Hissing and whistling to eat of lovely her,
 And the blowflies with their shields of purple
 Plied hatching to and fro across her fur,
 I burnt her with the logs, and stood all day
 Among the ashes, pressing home the flame
 Till woman, logs and dreams were scorched
 away, And native with night, that land from where
 they came (30)

The Australian Eve Langley was a writer in exile in New Zealand who for more than a decade was part of the New Zealand literary scene. This wild, exotic, lyrical talent produced some remarkable poems, an outstanding novel, and some unpublished manuscripts from a writing life in New Zealand before she and her dreams were 'scorched away'. Her achievements and her involvement with New Zealand make Eve Langley a writer who should be read and valued as part of New Zealand literary history.


This article was written in close collaboration with Aorewa McLeod, Auckland University, and I am very grateful for her enthusiasm and helpful comments. Our work on Eve Langley has been supported by a Research Grant from Auckland University. also want to thank Theresa Graham, Auckland Public Library, and C. K. Stead for help with the bibliography.


This bibliography is not comprehensive, but gives an idea of the early published work of Eve Langley. The order in each section is chronological. The texts of the poems and shorter pieces listed here are available in the Eve Langley file in the Auckland University Library. Joy Thwaite's biography The Importance of Being Eve Langley lacks bibliographical references to poems and short stories, but gives a good account of critical articles on Eve Langley's work.


The Pea-Pickers. Sydney: Angus & Robinson, 1942; rpt 1943, 1958, 1966, 1976, 1984, 1989, and 1991.

White Topee. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1954.


'A Vision of Clouds.' New Zealand Best Poems 1932. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1933), p. 16.

'The Limited.' New Zealand Railways Magazine (April 1933), 55.

'Black Sticks.' NZ Best Poems 1933. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1934), p. 15.

'Madrigal of Buds and Wings.' NZ Railways Magazine (August 1933), 30; rpt. in NZ Best Poems 1933. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs 1934), p. 17.

'Youth to Romance.' Art in New Zealanad, 1 (September 1933) 45; rpt. in NZ Best Poems 1933 C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1934), pp. 18-19.

'Jason of the Argo Laughs.' New Zealand Mercury, 1, no. 4 (July 1933), 2-3.

'The Citadel You'. NZ Mercury, 5 (August 1933), 3.

'The Goat and the Christ.' NZ Mercury, 1, no. 9 (December 1933), 1.

'A Parable of Flutes.' NZ Mercury, 1, no. 12 (March 1934), 5.

'The Fishermen and their God.' NZ Mercury, 2, no. 3 (June 1934), 2.

'On Glory and Genius.' NZ Mercury, 2, no. 3 (June 1934), 11.

'The Death of Te Omeka.' NZ Mercury, 2, no. 7 (October 1934), 1.

'Terra Australis.' NZ Mercury, 2, no. 8 (November 1934), 19.

'The Bays of Arabia.' NZ Best Poems 1934. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1935), p. 21.

'Argosy.' NZ Best Poems 1934. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1935), p. 21.

'Old Murmurs.' NZ Mercury, 2, no. 10 (January 1935), 2.

'The Last Walk.' The Mirror, The Home Journal of New Zealand, I (February 1935), 54.

'The Stolen Cir.' NZ Mercury, 3, no. 5 (August 1935), I.

'Country of the Long White Cloud.' The Mirror, 4 (October 1935).

'Sappho Insensate:' NZ Mercury, 3, no. 8 (November 1935), 1.

'Medea.' NZ Mercury, 3, no. 9 (December 1935), 5.

'The Widow.' NZ Best Poems 1935. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1936), p. 18.

'Unfoundland.' NZ Best Poems 1935. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1936), p. 19.

'The Mare of the Antipodes.' NZ Best Poems 1935. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1936), p. 21.

'The Death of the Old Year: New Zealand.' NZ Railways Magazine (January 1936), 29.

'I have Loved.' The Mirror, 14, no. 11 (May 1936), 45.

'The Duel.' The Mirror, 14, no. 12 (June 1936), 61.

'From the Burial-grounds of Dead Clouds.' NZ Best Poems 1936. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1937), pp. 16-17; rpt in C. A. Marris ed. Lyric Poems of New Zealand, 1928-42. [1942], pp. 19-20.

'King Magyarudas and Death.' NZ Best Poems 1936. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1937), pp. 17-18.

'The Reapers.' The Mirror, 15, no. 2 (August 1936), 73.

'The Serenade.' The Mirror, 15, no. 4 (October 1936), 71.

'Love will Endure.' The Mirror, 15, no. 6 (December 1936), 83.

'An Old Australian Fisherman.' NZ Railways Magazine (January 1937), 43.

'The Citadel You.' Here are Verses. Helen Longford ed. (Wellington: South's Book Depot, 1937), p. 11.

'Atlantiades.' NZ Best Poems 1937. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: 1937), pp. 11-12.

'Methought.' NZ Best Poems 1937. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: 1937), p. 13.

'Eternal Quest.' The Mirror, 15, no. 8 (February 1937), 73. 'A Woman Sings.' The Mirror, 15, no. 11 (May 1937), 75. 'The Altar in the Thicket.' The Bulletin, 29 June 1937, 8.

'Burning before Spring.' The Bulletin, December 1938, 46; rpt. NZ Best Poems 1938. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1938), pp. 19-20; rpt. Lyric Poems of New Zealand, 1928-1942. C. A. Marris ed. [1942], pp. 16-17.

'New Zealand Morning.' NZ Best Poems 1938. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1938), pp. 20-21.

'The Changing Mind.' The Mirror, 16, no. 7 (January 1938), 89.

'The Dead Plowlad.' The Mirror, 16, no. 8 (February 1938), 73.

'Twilight.' The Bulletin, 12 July 1939.

'Feast Where You Will.' The Bulletin, 2 August 1939; rpt. NZ Best Poems 1943. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1943), pp. 9-10.

'Thaumantias.' The Bulletin, 29 November 1939, 5.

'Native Born.' The Bulletin, 3I January 1940, 5; rpt NZ Best Poems 1940.

C. A. Marris, ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 194o), pp. 22-23; rpt. Lyric Poems of New Zealand, 1928-1942, C. A. Marris ed.

[1942], pp. 17-18. Douglas Stewart ed. Australia Fair (Sydney: Ure Smith, 1974), p. 44.

An Australian to a New Zealander.' NZ Best Poems 1941. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1941), pp. 10-12.

'Fire against Water.' NZ Best Poems 1941. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1941), pp. 12-14.

'The Remembrance of the Promised Land.' NZ Best Poems 1942. C. A. Marris ed. (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 194i); rpt. Art in New Zealand, 3 (March 1943), 18.

'The Celtic Guest.' Australian Poetry 1942. Robert D. Fitzgerald ed. (1942), pp. 76-77.

'Rameses II.' The Wooden Horse, 4 (1941), 3.

'January Nights.' 13 New Zealand Poets. Robert Thomson ed. (Wellington: The Handcraft Press, 1952), p. 16.

'The Painted Tombs of Egypt.' 13 New Zealand Poets. Robert Thomson ed. (Wellington: The Handcraft Press, 1952), p. 16.

'The Greek Greek Rose.' 13 New Zealand Poets. Robert Thomson ed. (Wellington: The Handcraft Press, 1952), p. 17.

'This Earth.' 13 New Zealand Poets. Robert Thomson ed. (Wellington: The Handcraft Press, 1952), p. 17.

'Whakarewarewa.' Australian Poetry 1951-52. Kenneth MacKenzie ed. (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1952), pp. 40-41.

'Sand in Australia.' Jindyworobak Anthology 1952. Arthur Murphy ed., p. 29.

'Ibis.' Jindyworobak Anthology 1952. Arthur Murphy ed., p. 30.

'The Gum-Tree.' Jindyworobak Anthology 1952. Arthur Murphy ed., p. 31.

A Fence for a Lover.' Jindyworobak Anthology 1952. Gloria Rawlinson and W. Hart-Smith eds., pp. 48-49.

'Pegasus Carthagus.' Australian Poetry 1953. Nan McDonald ed. (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1953), p. 32.

'The Snowy River.' Jindyworobak Anthology 1953. Colin Thiele ed., p. 26. 'This Year Before It Ends.' Australia Writes: An Anthology. T. Inglis Moore ed. (Melbourne: E W. Cheshire, 1953), pp. 199-200.

'The Jewboy of the Western Port', Southerly, 22. (1965), 137-138.

'The Artist.' Poetry Australia, 2 (1965), 2.2.

'The Acropolis.' Poetry Australia, 13 (1966), 20.

'The Bellringer, Piraeus Eis.' Poetry Australia, 24 (1963), 27.

'This Year Before It Ends.' The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse. Les A. Murray ed. (Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 157.

Short Prose

'Locomotivo.' NZ Railways Magazine (April 1933), 55.

'Midnight! And Where Now.' NZ Railways Magazine (February 1934), 31.

'Day that is Dead'. NZ Mercury, 1, no. 12 (March 1934), 11.

'The Hiding of the Moa.' Art in New Zealand, 2 (December 1934), 71-78. One act play.

'The Dream.' NZ Mercury, 2, no. 11 (February 1935), 13.

'The Children.' NZ Mercury, 3, no. 4 (July 1935), 12-13.

'How the Mantis Found his Horse.' Yours and Mine: Stories By Young New Zealanders. Warwick Lawrence ed. (New Plymouth: Thomas Avery, 1936), pp. 30-49.

'The Cobweb Quarrel.' Yours and Mine. Warwick Lawrence ed. (New Plymouth: Thomas Avery, 1936), pp. 112-21.

'The Dream', Here Are Verses. Helen Longford ed. (Wellington: South's Book Depot, 1937), p. 11.

'Written in Water.' Here Are Verses. Helen Longford ed. (Wellington: South's Book Depot, 1937).

'A Night at the Long White Cloud.' Art in New Zealand, 2 (December 1937), 75-80.


(1.) The S. H. Prior Memorial Prize in The Bulletin was a yearly event, awarded to unpublished novels. In 1940, because no prize had been awarded in 1937 and 1938, three prizes were given without any order of merit. Eve Langley's 'The Pea-Pickers', Kylie Tennant's 'The Battlers' and Malcolm Henry Ellis's 'Lachlan Macquarie' were all awarded the then generous sum of 100 [pounds sterling].

(2.) Eve Langley is not mentioned in any of the recent books on the history of New Zealand literature. However, her friendship with Robin Hyde is well documented in the introduction to Disputed Ground: Robin Hyde, Journalist. Gillian Boddy and Jacqueline Matthews, eds. (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1991). Eve Langley's unpublished manuscripts are deposited in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Aorewa McLeod is currently working on a selection of manuscripts with a New Zealand connection as part of our research project. Meg Stewart's film 'She's My Sister', Feature Film, Sydney, 1975, and Joy Thwaite's biography The Importance of Being Eve Langley (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1989) have done much to revive interest in Eve Langley in Australia.

(3.) Joy Thwaite's fascinating biography The Importance of Being Eve Langley has provided much of the background to this article.

(4.) Letter from Eve Langley to Beatrice Davis. Angus & Robertson File 1959, MSS 32.59, Mitchell Library, Sydney.

(5.) Interview with Brennan 16 September 1983. Joy Thwaite, The Importance of Being Eve Langley, p. 210.

(6.) Letter to Nettie Palmer, May 194i, National Library of Australia. MS 1174/1/5961. Eve Langley was at this time thirty-seven years old.

(7.) Meg Stewart had wanted to make a film with Eve Langley. As she was too late she did interview her sister June instead, which resulted in the film 'She Was My Sister'.

(8.) M.L. is short for Maoriland, used as a synonym for New Zealand in The Bulletin for many years. The Bulletin, (6 November 1940), 2..

(9.) The Importance of Being Eve Langley, p. 406.

(10.) Disputed Ground, p. 209.

(11.) The Importance of Being Eve Langley, p. 41.

(12.) Keith Sinclair, A Destiny Apart: New Zealand's Search for National Identity (Wellington: Allen & Unwin, 1986), p. 242.

(13.) Lindsay's article appeared in The Bulletin, 3 June 1942, 2; from a letter by Eve Langley quoted in Stewart, Douglas, Norman Lindsay, A Personal Memoir (Nelson: 1975), P. 33.

(14.) Denis Glover, Hot Water Sailor (Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1962), p. 106.

(15.) This poem is reprinted in Glover, Denis. Sharp Edge Up (Auckland: Blackwell & Janet Paul, 1968), p. 69.

(16.) In a letter to Denis Glover, 2. January 1938. This incident is described in Disputed Ground, pp. 65-6.

(17.) Eve Langley's MS 'Last, Loveliest, Loneliest', 69, Mitchell Library, Sydney.

(18.) The Bulletin, z9 November 1939, 5.

(19.) James K. Baxter, The Fire and the Anvil (Wellington: NZUP,, 1955), p. 67.

(20.) Patrick Evans, The Penguin History of New Zealand Literature (Auckland: Penguin, 1990), p. 113.

(21.) The Pea-Pickers has been reprinted by Angus & Robertson in 1943, 1958, 1966, 1976, 1984, t989, and 1991.

(22.) The Australian Writers" Book of Days, published by Mitchell Library, Sydney, 1990.

(23.) 'Black Sticks', C. A. Marris, ed., New Zealand Best Poems 1933 (Wellington: Henry H. Tombs, 1933), p. 15.

(24.) From 'New Zealand Authoresses', The Mirror, February 1938 and 'The Singers of Loneliness', T'ien Hsia Monthly (1938); reprinted in Disputed Ground, pp. 209, 357.

(25.) Art in New Zealand, 2 (December 1937), 75-80.

(26.) The introduction to Robin Hyde, Nor The Years Condemn, by Phillida Bunkle, Linda Hardy and Jacqueline Matthews (Auckland: New Women's Press, 1986), p. xii.

(27.) Introduction to Nor The Years Condemn, p. xxiii.

(28.) Christina Stead, MS 4967, Box 4, folder 24, National Library of Australia.

(29.) Marion Arkin, 'Literary Transvestism in Eve Langley's The Pea-Picked, Modern Fiction Studies t (Spring 1980, 116.

(30.) The Bulletin, 31 January 1940, 5.
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Author:Segerberg, Anita
Publication:JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:David McKee Wright, Maorilander.
Next Article:William Hart-Smith (1911-1990): poet of two countries.

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