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Celebrating our writers: 1936, 1951: Part I: 1936.

The New Zealand Writers' Conference, Christchurch 1951, is well known to students of literature: coinciding with the Waterfront dispute, the two events helped to delineate for that generation their feelings for their country. Not so well known is an earlier celebration of writers, Authors' Week, 1936. This paper focuses on generations: on the way that the generation who grew up as writers around Phoenix magazine and the Caxton Press in the 1930s and 1940s, and who gained the power in literary matters by 1951, succeeded also in demoting their writing forebears who were the generations celebrated in 1936. The 1951 Conference shows also the Phoenix/Caxton writers being challenged in turn by a new generation of writers. My underlying theme is one of gender, since I show that Authors' Week 1936 celebrated a literature in which women played the major part, but in 1951, the female voice was largely silent. Borrowing terms used by Lawrence Jones, I find that in order for the Provincial writers--those associated with Phoenix and the Caxton Press--to rise to pre-eminence, they had to displace by discrediting the earlier Late Colonial writers. As eloquent chroniclers of their own achievements, the Provincial writers offered us an inflated view of their significance and a correspondingly poor opinion of their predecessors', but more importantly, their chronicling work has skewed the time-scale of New Zealand literature, drawing out to greater length than is justified their own influence, while condensing the earlier decades until they seemed a brief preamble to their own emergence. Part I of this paper deals with the 1936 Writers' Week; Part II deals with the 1951 Writers' Conference, and will be published in a future Journal of New Zealand Literature.

My generation (born in the 1940s) believed until well into the 1980s that our literature was largely a male preserve. It was not until I began researching Authors' Week 1936 that I realised what a short time-span this male annexation of the whole order of literary matters has occupied. I find that the present-day high profile of women's writing merely restores the norm to New Zealand's literature--a norm as celebrated in 1936, and that history will see the 1951 Writers' Conference and the male climate out of which it grew as a short aberration when viewed in the time-scale of New Zealand literature. (1)

New Zealand first celebrated the combined achievements of its writers in 1936. In 1927, the Booksellers' Association tried to rally enthusiasm for a Book Week, but Dunedin was the only place in the country to observe it. PEN organised Authors' Week to be held in the four main centres during April-May 1936. John A. Lee was appointed government representative, and the national organiser of the Week was O. N. Gillespie, whose job it was to visit the main centres gathering funds and support. President of the Authors' Week Committee was Sir Harold Beauchamp, with twenty-nine vice-presidents including four women (Jessie Mackay, Edith Lyttleton, Jane Mander, Edith Howes), and an editorial committee of Johannes Andersen (chief), C. A. Marris, P. A. Lawlor, and A. R. McElwain. Journalists played a dominant role in Authors' Week: P. A. Lawlor, a Wellington newspaper man, founded PEN in 1934; Guy Scholefield, Alan Mulgan, C. A. Marris, were journalists, as were Robin Hyde, Mrs Hilda Carr Rollett, Elsie K. Morton, and Jane Mander.

Gillespie, a company director with an interest in movies, was an enthusiast for and commentator on New Zealand writing. (2) The week was designed, he said, to refresh the minds of the people about their heritage. Gillespie saw the heritage as strongly British, maintained with steadfast loyalty in the new country. New Zealanders loved books, supported excellent bookshops and libraries, had the world's highest consumption rate per capita of literary weeklies, and a press second to none. Rather than pushing the country as the Empire's Dairy Farm, or boasting of the number of cars, bathrooms, phones, and radios per house, people should be pushing their literary achievements, said Gillespie. New Zealand could be the new Greece: smallness need not be a handicap to greatness, and the country should look to Greece to see what a handful of sheep-herders and sea-going-traders could accomplish. (3)

Sir Harold Beauchamp agreed: it was 'now a fact that New Zealanders could be armed with material for patriotism, other than that relating to Rugby football, dairy production, or even hot springs or cold lakes'. (4) John A. Lee was more pessimistic about New Zealanders' relationship with their literature and writers: the problem was to get people to buy the books, then to read them; 'poverty was the hallmark of New Zealand authors, who were earning just enough to keep a cat or canary'. (5)

Each of the main centres, as well as smaller centres such as Timaru and Nelson, offered displays of New Zealand books in shops and libraries, placed photos of writers on show, and held public lectures. In Wellington, Guy Scholefield lectured on the law of copyright, Alan Mulgan on pioneering in literature, Eileen Duggan gave a paper on elements of song in New Zealand literature, and Victor Lloyd lectured on drama. Lloyd felt that a native drama should be emerging out of the country's story, and New Zealand was full of dramatic material. The Governor-General, Lord Galway, appealed to New Zealanders to get to know their own country through books, though what he had in mind was non-fiction. In an address termed 'short' by The Weekly News, Bishop Williams 'traced the literary activity of New Zealanders from the first missionaries'. In Auckland, as well as a book display at the Art Gallery, lectures were given by D. W. Faigan, Jane Mander, J. W. Shaw, A. R. D. Fairburn (on poetry in Auckland), R. A. Singer, J. A. Lee, Mrs Hilda Carr Rollett, Isabel M. Cluett, Elsie K. Morton, R. A. K. Mason (on the future of New Zealand literature), and Robin Hyde. (6) Warwick R. Lawrence wrote two lengthy articles on women's writing for the Auckland Weekly News in which he noted the part New Zealand women had played in building up a literature.

Fairburn and Mason were the sole representative speakers of the new generation of writers, recently come to attention in the short-lived but important Auckland University periodical, Phoenix (1932-33), which exuded an anti-Establishment tone on literature as well as on society in general. The Phoenix men were encouraged by the reforming work in England of such extra-Establishment men as D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, J. M. Murry, W. H. Auden, and C. Day Lewis. The first and third issues of Phoenix carried criticisms by D'Arcy Cresswell and James Bertram of the 1930 poetry anthology, Kowhai Gold, which claimed to represent contemporary poetry writing. Fairburn had written for Kowhai Gold and did not seem out of place, but by 1930, he had taken 'that pale lily-white lad' who had been his youthful self and choked him, and had been reborn as a more robust poet in tune with the rhythms of his native land. In a 1934 article called 'Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters', Fairburn urged his readers to eschew dependence on England, not only economic dependence which had brought the country to its knees during the Depression, but reliance on English novelists and Georgian poets for models, and look instead towards writers of that other colonial society; America--in particular, towards Mark Twain for a way of dealing with post-colonial life. Alan Mulgan's Home: A New Zealander's Adventure (1927) epitomised for Fairburn the wrong path: sentimental and backward-looking, it 'foreshadows the end of an era in New Zealand'. (7)

In his Authors' Week talk on poetry, Fairburn denounced most of it, claiming it to be derivative of the worst of an English Georgian style. He wrote to Denis Glover that he almost wrecked the evening, by being 'what a Baptist Sunday-school teacher I once knew called "coarse". I was very irrelevent and v. rude'. (8) According to Hyde, Fairburn claimed Mason to be the only poet of note. (9)

The Otaga Daily Times, reporting after the failure of the 1927 Book Week, claimed Dunedin to be the 'literary centre of the Dominion'. (10) Dunedin turned on such a week of celebration for its writers beginning on 27 April that the claim seems correct at the time, but the centre had already begun to shift northwards. Lead for the week in Dunedin came from another journalist, W. E Alexander, who edited the Evening Star between 1920 and 1946. Alexander was an academic manque; he had been a good student at Christchurch Boys' High School, but being poor at mathematics, was unable to enter university and take up a professional career. Instead, he lifted the Dunedin Evening Star to a degree of refinement, with literary pages prominent, and young writers from all over New Zealand encouraged to write articles and stories. (11) Both the Star and the Daily Times devoted space each day to Authors' Week events, as well as publishing photos of writers, and it is interesting today to see who were thought in Dunedin to be the writers of New Zealand: C. R. Allen, Johannes Andersen, Elsdon Best, Thomas Bracken, John Brodie, J. MacMillan Brown, Sir Peter Buck, Lindsay Buick, Nora Coad, James Cowan, Jean Devanny, O. N. Gillespie, T. M. Hocken, Merton Hodge, Edith Howes, Robin Hyde, John A. Lee, Edith J. Lyttleton, Sheila MacDonald, Jessie Mackay, Katherine Mansfield, W. P. Morrell, Alan Mulgan, Stuart Perry; Vincent Pyke, W. P. Reeves, Nelle M. Scanlan, Mana Service, and G. H. Scholefield.

The Hocken and Knox College Libraries put on displays of New Zealand books, and school parties were taken to the Hocken. The Dunedin Public Library had a display of books, sixty periodicals, and photos. The University of Otago Library hosted the closing ceremony: Talks were given over the radio on New Zealand literature by Alexander, C. R. Allen, A. G. Fleming, and Muriel May. A Dunedin novel was launched during the week, C. R. Allen's A Poor Scholar, published in Wellington and Dunedin by Reeds. The story of a poor New Zealand boy becoming a Rhodes Scholar, it was praised by Jane Mander for its New Zealand scene, point of view, and personality. (12)

Authors' Week started in Dunedin at the 'inconvenient' hour of 9.30 a.m. on Monday 27 April at the Public Library. Speeches came from the Mayor, Alexander, and Mr R. G. C. McNab of John McGlashan College. The Mayor promised to consider spending 8000 [pounds sterling] on library extensions and new books. Alexander showed a keen eye for literary trends when he pointed to a new writer: among the three books which every home should have--with Satchell's The Greenstone Door and Mansfield's Stories--was Margaret Escott's Show Down, published in London only that year, yet Alexander was recommending it in April: it was a new and significant work even if 'sometimes brutal and unpleasant'. (13)

As well as Fairburn's work in eroding the edges of Late Colonial stability, Curnow and Mason had published volumes of poetry by 1936, and Denis Glover's Caxton Club Press in Christchurch was beginning to publish small but significant runs of new verse, as well as an early essay by Allen Curnow called 'Poetry and Language' (1935), in which he attacked the 'quasi-dead' language of most. New Zealand poets. Young radicals displaced by the demise of Phoenix wrote for Tomorrow, which began in Christchurch in 1934. Frank Sargeson published there an early article drawing attention to Sherwood Anderson (6 November 1935). Enough had been published for the percipient to detect change in the air. Alexander noted the 'new' men who were writing in 'modern styles', such as Curnow and Mason. R. G. C. McNab commented on the new writers who had come to prominence through Phoenix: Phoenix was, he said, 'literally an astounding thing the writers showing a mastery of strange forms of verse and prose and also of sociological problems which their predecessors seldom bothered about', with Allen Curnow in Christchurch representing a similar movement to that of Auden, Day Lewis, and Spender in England. (14)

The Otago Daily Times printed a lengthy article by C. H. Fortune, 'Authors' Week: Some Reflections' (24 April, 5). Fortune felt that the public largely ignored their native literature, although there was 'some support' for non-fiction: 'The contention among New Zealanders seems to be that nothing worth while can be written by New Zealanders.... It is safe to say that at least 80 per cent of the New Zealand reading public never reads a New Zealand novel'. Even Mansfield, although boasted of and placed upon a pedestal, was simply accepted 'as we accept the sky and the moon and the stars'. Readers 'superciliously' ignored the worthy efforts of writers, yet cried 'that we have no novelists, no literature'. Fortune saw Authors' Week as a means of showing 'the man in the street' how good New Zealand writing was, enabling him to see himself in his true awfulness, or the country would never get out of 'the conceited rut into which we have fallen'. But Fortune suspected that such was the 'stupid attitude' of the horse, it would not be made to drink.

The Evening Star (24 April, 25) printed an article by a visiting Englishman, W. J. Grant, whose attitude to New Zealand literature was very different from that of the gloomy local, Fortune. Grant thought that New Zealand writing 'sings a new song': 'New Zealand writers are robust men and women, with a message of strength and virility; they see old things with young eyes'. He hoped New Zealanders, who were more 'spiritual' than Australians, would help to correct the introspection in modern literature.

Dunedin at large was untouched by the new wave, and the writers celebrated there were workers in styles inimical to the Phoenix and Caxton men. The poets celebrated by the Otago Women's Club Poetry Circle in their special meeting were Kowhai Gold Late Colonial poets: Anne Glenny Wilson, Mary Colborne Veel, Blanche Baughan, Eileen Duggan, Dora Wilcox, Jessie Mackay, and Gloria Rawlinson. The club was pleased to honour three poets among its members, Edith Howes, Miss O. Mercer, and Mana Service.

New Zealand drama was to the forefront in Dunedin. Local repertory groups combined to stage four New Zealand one-act plays at the Little Theatre: The Egregious Mr Pritchard by C.R. Allen, Women and Superwomen by Miss E.H. Laing, Fifty-Fifty by Mrs W. J. Williams, and Flat to Let by Miss Lilian McCarthy. (15) A three-act play by Edith Howes was presented over three nights at His Majesty's Theatre, complete with the Little Theatre Orchestra under the baton of L. O. Asten, and a speech from the Mayor. Rose Lane won a British Drama League prize in England. The author, 'of whom Dunedin is not a little proud, was in the audience. It is not often that here, in the Dominion, one is able to see a play and then demand the author's appearance, and I can assure you that it is a very pleasurable experience'. (16) The play was set in the gold rush days of the 1860s, and drew on archive material; it featured strong parts for women (including a prostitute): Rose's mother, who was dragged to New Zealand by her husband, and Rose, who rebelled against her father and faced awful hardship, once walking from Invercargill to Dunedin to tend her sick husband.

The Otago Daily Times reported (29 April) that the play was 'diverting and instructive', with a 'well-developed, if self-revealing plot.... The play frequently takes a homiletic turn and the fine streak of philosophy running through it sometimes becomes the tiniest bit confused'. Representation of the Dunstan countryside was excellent, but the cast had mixed success, with one actor finding his stage feet best when lying down. Miss Howes saw the production as a chance to see the faults in her play. (17) She was the toast of Dunedin, as playwright and as acclaimed writer of children's fiction (she was awarded the MBE in 1935), signing books in Whitcombe and Tombs, and attending numerous receptions in her honour. In black velvet besprinkled with sequins and carrying roses, she graced a reception in a Society drawing-room which was itself resplendent in Otago blue and yellow irises and nasturtiums; Lady Allen (C. R.'s mother) gave her sherry, the Otago Women's Club gave her tea, a play-reading circle gave her a party, and on the last night of Rose Lane, she entertained cast and helpers in a 'very jolly wind-up'. (18)

Rose Lane raised an issue about New Zealand writing and its audience. Alexander wrote an editorial, 'New Zealand Authors', in the Evening Star (2 May), in which he regretted that people still found it hard to accept their own country as a place about which literature might be written: in Rose Lane, as a character spoke the line which revealed he was going to take a job in Invercargill, 'a gust of uncalled for laughter shook the house each successive night.... The mere mention of Invercargill shatters, for a moment, all the illusion of drama'. Alexander hoped New Zealanders would soon become used to hearing or reading their own place names in fictional works.

How successful was Authors' Week, 1936? If one reads a critique on the Week by H. W. Rhodes in Tomorrow, it might seem that everybody felt the week was an unqualified success, and that New Zealand literature was being hailed by an undiscriminating audience as having arrived (C. R. Allen gave a talk in Dunedin on 'New Zealand's Literary Coming of Age'). Rhodes had recently arrived from Australia to the University of Canterbury English Department; he had no love of capitalist Europe and its effete bourgeois literature. He was particularly scornful that followers of this borrowed tradition had been ascendant during the Week, with the result that it was tame and unexciting, damaged by 'uncritical vulgarisers' who lacked critical skills:
 What is wanted is not the patronising pommy or the sentimental
 patriot, for the one cannot think in terms of local conditions
 and lacks the sympathy which encourages at the same time as it
 condemns, and the other is so busily engaged in collecting samples
 of New Zealand culture that discriminating criticism is forgotten.

New Zealand had not yet found a voice of its own, worshipping instead a 'second-rate tradition'; New Zealanders must 'discover our own soul and learn that it is necessary to live and think and act dangerously'. Writers must 'mean it and mean it passionately'. (19)

But it is difficult to find from this distance many of the 'uncritical vulgarisers' who annoyed Rhodes. Gillespie did defend the success of Authors' Week from Rhodes' attack in the next issue of Tomorrow: a 'vast amount of good was effected by it', in bringing New Zealand books to the notice of the population; talks given during the Week 'should do a little towards firing into ardent flame, the minds of our younger folk' who will be the future writers. (20) And four years later he was to lavish superlatives on his favourite writers, all Late Colonial women: Jessie Mackay was a 'genius', Hyde was 'that fascinating wonder woman', and Duggan was 'the greatest of them all'. (21) Gloria Rawlinson did report that the 'well-organised' Week 'helped to promote wider interest in the local writers and their problems', and that 1936 was a
 stimulating year for New Zealand literature.... issues hitherto
 confined to literary magazines were now publicly debated. In the
 following months newspapers, journals and radio talks gave space to
 the fashionable theme: Why did New Zealand writers fail to reflect
 the real life of the country? Of course, even in 1936 the answers
 were already being created [in the writings of Mason, Fairburn,
 Curnow, Glover, Sargeson, Finlayson, Lee, and others]. (22)

C. A. Marris, in his article for the Authors' Week official booklet, continued his effusive praise of New Zealand writing, particularly that of women; he seemed to draw pleasure from quoting an English critic's belief that Eve Langley was 'Keats reincarnated'. (23) And Lawlor, almost twenty years later, wrote that as a result of Authors' Week, 'the N.Z. book emerged from the back shelves of the booksellers' shops and became a window display item'; books improved in appearance, as did the quality of the material between the covers; more poets appeared. (24)

Rather, most contemporary commentators, with the exception of Marris, were cautious in their enthusiasm, and like the Phoenix men, were critical of aspects of New Zealand writing, particularly its failure to reflect New Zealand life. Before Phoenix appeared, R. F. Fortune wrote to attack the 'verse-stringer', and deplored 'the hundred or two volumes that may be found littering the shelves of the Turnbull Library'; they were 'blots on New Zealand's good name'. It was not sufficient, said Fortune, to offer scenic description and hackneyed verbiage without feeling. (25) In 1933, Edith L. Kerr regretted that 'no literature thoroughly characteristic of New Zealand' had yet developed because the people were 'more British than Britain herself', and had not yet captured the spirit of their land, let alone present that spirit in writing. (26) Isabel M. Cluett (Peacocke) told Lawlor that the problem with local writing was that either writers had allowed themselves 'to be so trammelled by literary tradition that we have painstakingly imitated rather than originated, or else, in the effort to be virile and red blooded', writers had become self-conscious and over-dramatic; the resulting work was artificial and unconvincing. (27)

Warwick R. Lawrence concluded his two-part article on women's writing to advertise Authors' Week with the comment that 'New Zealand needs a national spirit in her literature, and a higher standard'. (28) Also in 1936, O. N. Gillespie issued a warning that while every second person seemed to be writing poetry, too much of it was being written in dinner jackets rather than in dungarees; it was over-loaded with 'classic allusion and metaphor alien to the heart of our life--the product of over-much reading and too little living'. Gillespie welcomed the changes that new writers of the last decade had brought: 'a spate of poetry which has the impress of original thinking and of distinctive beauty'. (29) By 1938, he was naming Mason, Glover, Fairburn, Cresswell, Alan Mulgan, Gloria Rawlinson, and especially Duggan and Hyde, as marking the real beginning of New Zealand poetry. (30)

The Otago Daily Times leader-writer felt that the best New Zealand writing had come from those products of the older culture, such as Butler, or from exiled New Zealanders, such as Mansfield, 'who practised a small though perfect art'; New Zealand still awaited the 'great' writer, but there were signs of truly native inspiration which was 'of our soil as surely as is the manuka', and a genuine literary impulse 'quickening the land'. (31) Alan Mulgan criticised novel-writers for their lack of sophistication: local colour was used to compensate for inadequate character development and plot--'facile sentiment' against a background of tree-fern and tussock. New writers to impress Mulgan were Devanny and Lee, whose Children of the Poor (1934) appealed for its realism and social insights. (32)

Robin Hyde's comments on the arrogance of some of the Phoenix men do not need repeating; she was critical also of writers who might be said to occupy the opposite end of the spectrum, the tea-drinking women amateurs who gathered in literary clubs and wrote little of merit, and whose opinions were sometimes sought to represent those of the 'literary woman', yet Hyde felt they 'bear none of the heat and burden of the day'. She regretted that women had not made the most of their political and social chances after gaining the vote. Only one great writer had yet been produced (Mansfield). Women must act together to clear out some of the literary rubbish, and to show appreciation of the good. (33)

Thus by 1936, many commentators and a few writers were joining into a steadily-growing swell of criticism about the truthfulness of literature in responding to life in New Zealand; all were asking for greater accuracy and integrity. In amongst the celebration of Authors' Week, there was a desire for something new. Where the Phoenix and Caxton men had the advantage over the Late Colonial critics was in their youth and strength in numbers, and in the business-like way they set about offering alternative modes and new vehicles for carrying their new work. Outside this group, likely new approaches were being suggested also by the critical realism of John A. Lee's Children of the Poor, published anonymously, by Margaret Escott's Show Down, and by Robin Hyde's Check to Your King and Passport to Hell (1936). These lines did not develop: Lee remained a politician who wrote little, Escott remained silent, and Hyde died in 1939. Jean Devanny who had impressed Mulgan--and obviously the New Zealand public who bought 15,000 copies of her novel, The Butcher Shop (1926)--went to Australia in 1929. Jane Mander, whose novels offered another useful line of response to life in New Zealand, was silent after 1925, and out of print. The field was left to the Phoenix and Caxton men.

It is hard to overlook the high profile of women during Authors' Week, 1936. Women participated in the Week in large numbers, and were celebrated as writers, so much so that writing seemed to be the one field in which women achieved parity with men. In 1927, Guy Scholefield wrote that 'NZ seems to have consigned her literary destiny to the keeping of her women'. (34) Yet Robin Hyde, writing in 1934, believed that women writers had experienced an 'obscure position' of long standing. (35) Her use of the male pseudonym suggests her response to male bias. Well known also is her claim that 'a woman writer's life is certain to make her neurotic. Unless she's so massively thick of hide that it's impossible for her to be any good at all'. (36) Isabel M. Cluett shared a similar view: she felt it necessary to defend women writers as the producers of 'most of the more virile and convincing pen-pictures of this country', and not given their due. She mentioned the half-hearted reception given to Mander's The Story of a New Zealand River (1920), and the number of literary women who went overseas to escape the 'obstacles to literary recognition in the land of their birth'. (37)

The defection overseas of Mansfield, Mander, Scanlan, Rees, Devanny, Hyde, and Lyttleton, and the use of male or gender-ambivalent pseudonyms, is often given as evidence of the difficulties women writers experienced in gaining recognition in New Zealand. But I find it hard to discover gender-based maltreatment of writers before 1936, if one discounts the opinions of the Phoenix men, who in 1936 were not yet in positions as literary arbiters except in a small way at Caxton Press, and even they had some praise for Mansfield and Hyde. Rather, commentators quoted in this article are warm in their praise of women's writing, and a scan through popular magazines and through bibliographies reveals that women's imaginative writing and journalism were hardly invisible or ignored. Furthermore, in what embryonic literary criticsm there was before the work of E. H. McCormick (1940) and Allen Curnow (1945), women were the major contributors: Mrs Hilda Carr Rollett (as "Hilda Keane"), Clara Eyre Cheeseman, Katherine Mansfield, Jessie Mackay, Isabel M. Cluett, Winifred Tennant, Edith Kerr, Jane Mander, Margaret Jepson, Ngaio Marsh, Robin Hyde, Muriel Innes, and Isobel Andrews all wrote criticism and commentaries in newspapers and popular magazines; E. M. Smith wrote a book-length survey of fiction in 1939.

C. H. Fortune and Lee (above) suggested that the problem lay in New Zealanders' reluctance to buy and read New Zealand books, whether by men or women. Edith Kerr believed local literature was neglected, 'Partly through sheer ignorance and want of appreciation, and that inverted and vicarious modesty that cannot believe that anything really good can originate here, unless and until, as in the case of our novelists, it has received the hall-mark of recognition'. (38) Writers of serious fiction and poetry hardly became household names or made their fortunes, as Lee discovered. An anonymous reviewer (probably Alexander) in the Evening Star on 9 May 1936, regretted that Satchell's The Greenstone Door had been so ignored for twenty-one years, bringing him in a paltry 12 [pounds sterling]. A case might well be made for those exiled women leaving New Zealand for a better general life as single women elsewhere, rather than as women writers. Even from the distance of New Zealand, women were successful in having their books published by British publishers--in 1932 alone eleven women had novels published in London--so there was little need to migrate for that purpose. And as many New Zealand writers from Mansfield onwards have found in England, they are hardly taken into the bosom of English letters, but hover rather faintly on the fringes. A large group of male writers up to the present day have also left New Zealand in search of a more congenial literary environment: Bolitho, Farjeon, Courage, Davin, Wallis, Antony, Cresswell, de Montalk, Virtue, Chamier, Stewart, Adams, McKee Wright, Witheford, Hart-Smith, and Musaphia.

Authors' Week 1936 seems in retrospect to have been sited nicely at the end of an era which marked the decline in importance of the Late Colonial writers, an era in which women's writing had been accepted

as the norm. Women's writing reached its first apogee during this period, producing such major (and acknowledged) writers as Mansfield, Mander, Hyde, Duggan, and Bethell. It is an achievement unmatched by male practitioners. But the Phoenix men had already fired the first shots in their campaign to set New Zealand writing along their preferred course. By the time of the 1951 Writers' Conference, they had largely gained the field, and among the first casualties were the women. [To be concluded]


Annals of New Zealand Literature (Wellington: N.Z. Authors' Week Committee, 1936) Articles include: Alan Mulgan, 'The New Zealand Novel', Victor S. Lloyd, 'The Place of Drama in New Zealand Literature', C. A. Marris, 'Our Younger Generation of Writers', Pat Lawlor, 'The New Zealand Book Illustrator', Johannes C. Andersen, ' Fiction and History', and 'Book Plates'.

Anon., 'New Zealand Books of 1935: What Our Authors are Writing About', The New Zealand Magazine (Christmas 1935), 3- 4.

The Dominion (Wellington), 28 April 1936 for report on Eileen Duggan's talk, 'New Zealand Poetry Advancing Slowly but Well'.

Donovan, Nellie E., foreword to The Quill (1936). The Evening Star (Dunedin) 1936: reports and articles daily from 24 April-2 May. Leader, 2 May.

Fairburn, A. R. D., 'Notes by the Way', Tomorrow 2, no. 25 (24 June 1936), 14-15.

Fairburn, A. R. D., The Letters of A. R. D. Fairburn, ed. Lauris Edmond (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 99-100, 106.

Gillespie, O. N. New Zealand Authors, Tomorrow 2, no. 1 (30 October 1935), 20.

Gilllespie, O. N., 'New Zealanders in Literature: A Fine Record of Achievement', The New Zealand Railways Magazine 2, no. 2 (1 May 1936), 9-11, 14.

Gillespie, O. N., 'N.Z. Authors' Week, Tomorrow 2, no. 23 (27 May 1936), 21-22.

Glover, Denis, 'Pointers to Parnassus: A consideration of the Morepork and the Muse', Tomorrow 2, no. 1 (30 October 1935), 16-18.

Hyde, Robin, 'Poetry in New Zealand', Art in New Zealand 9, no. 1 (September 1936), 29-34.

Hyde, Robin, 'New Zealand Authoresses', The Mirror 18, no. 8 (February 1938), 20-21, 62-63.

Lawrence, Warwick R. ["W. R."], 'The Feminine Field in Literature', I: New Zealand Women Novelists and Short Story Writers, The Weekly News (Auckland), 15 April 1936, 20; II: NZ Historians, Travel Writers, Poets and Weavers of Fairy Tales, The Weekly News, 22 April 1936, 20.

Mander, Jane, 'Books to read', The Mirror 14, no. 11 (May 1936), 41, 76-77.

New Zealand Authors' Week, Bulletin no. 1 (Wellington: PEN, October 1935)

Northern News (Kaikohe) 1 May 1936, 'Random Remarks' by 'Old Scribe'.

Otago Daily Times, reports and articles daily from 23 April-4 May 1936. Leader: 27 April.

PEN Gazette, 52 (December 1955): report by Pat Lawlor.

'Quill', 'New Zealand Authors' Week', Tomorrow 2, no. 21 (29 April 1936), 24.

Rawlinson, Gloria, Introduction to The Godwits Fly by Robin Hyde (1938, 1970, etc.), pp. xiv-xv.

Rhodes, H. Winston, 'Authors' Week', Tomorrow 2, no. 22 (13 May 1936), 20- 22.

Spilt Ink 4, no. 1 (Feb-Mar 1936), 6, 8; 4, no. 2 (April-May 1936), pages unnumbered.

The Weekly News (Auckland) 22 April 1936, 13; 29 April 1936, 33; 6 May 1936, 27.


(1.) Lawrence Jones, when writing on the evolution of the novel, dates the Late Colonial period 1890-1934, the Provincial period 1935-1964, and the Post-Provincial period from 1965; he points out that Allen Curnow's criticism of poetry makes a distinction between Colonial and Provincial, although he does not use these terms, and Peter Simpson uses a similar terminology in his discussion on Canterbury poetry. See Jones, 'The Novel', The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English, ed. Terry Sturm (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 107; and Notes 1 and 58, pp. 714-5, 717.

(2.) Gillespie edited and wrote a preface to the first anthology of New Zealand short stories, New Zealand Short Stories (London: Dent, 1930); he wrote articles on writing for magazines: 'Reading 3000 stories: An Anthology in the Making: Confessions of a Compiler', The New Zealand Magazine (June 1930), 2; 'New Zealanders in Literature: A Fine Record of Achievement', The New Zealand Railways Magazine 11, no. 2 (1 May 1936), 9-11 14; 'N.Z. Authors' Week', Tomorrow 2, no. 23 (27 May 1936), 21-22; 'The Golden Year for New Zealand Literature: Varied Achievement in the Art of Letters', The New Zealand Railways Magazine 13, no. 4 (1 July 1938), 14-15; 'Poetry in New Zealand', Review (John O'London Literary Club, Wellington), 2 (December 1940), 11-13.

(3.) Gillespie (1 May 1936), 9, 14.

(4.) Sir Harold Beauchamp, reported at the Wellington opening of Authors' Week, The Weekly News (Auckland), 22 April 1936, 13.

(5.) Ibid, report on Lee's speech.

(6.) Dug, gads participation confirmed by The Dominion, 28 April 1936; Robin Hyde's participation by Gloria Rawlinson in her introduction to The Godwits Fly (London: 1938); other material taken from 'N.Z. Authors' Week Activities', Spilt Ink 4, no. 2 (April-May 1936), and The Weekly News, 22 April 1936, 13, for reports on Galway and Bishop Williams.

(7.) A. R. D. Fairburn, 'Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters', Art in New Zealand 6, no. 4 (June 1934), 213-218 (216, 214).

(8.) A. R. D. Fairburn, letter to Denis Glover, 6 May 1936, The Letters of A. R. D. Fairburn selected and edited by Lauris Edmond (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 100. Did Fairburn mean to say 'irreverent' rather than 'irrelevant'?

(9.) Robin Hyde, 'Poetry in Auckland', Art in New Zealand 9, no. 1 (September 1936), 29-34 (30-31).

(10.) 'New Zealand Literature: A Survey of the Dominion's Productions', Otago Daily Times, 3 November 19z7.

(11.) I am indebted to W. E Alexander's daughter, Miss Frances Alexander of Dunedin for information about her father. The Evening Star (14 August 1957) noted that 'Mr Alexander [1882-1957] was widely acknowledged to be an authority on New Zealand literature and poetry'.

(12.) Jane Mander, 'Books to Read', The Mirror 14, no. 11 (May 1936), 41, 76-77 (41).

(13.) Otago Daily Times, 28 April 1936, 4.

(14.) Ibid, 4 May 1936, 2.

(15.) The Weekly News, 29 April 1936, 33.

(16.) Ibid.

(17.) Howard McNaughton discusses Rose Lane in his essay, 'Drama', in The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (1991), pp. 269-332 (284-85). He has a typescript of the play.

(18.) Weekly News, 29 April, 27.

(19.) H.W. Rhodes, 'Authors' Week', Tomorrow 2, no. 22 (13 May 1936), 20-22 (21, 22).

(20.) Gillespie (27 May 1936), 21.

(21.) Ibid (December 1940), 12.

(22.) Gloria Rawlinson, Introduction to The Godwits Fly by Robin Hyde (1938, 1970, etc.), pp. xiv- xv.

(23.) C.A. Marris, 'Our Younger Generation of Writers', Annals of New Zealand Literature (Wellington: N.Z. Authors' Week Committee, 1936), pp. 18-19.

(24.) P.A. Lawlor, writing in PEN Gazette, 52 (December 1955), 6.

(25.) R. E Fortune, 'On New Zealand Poetry', The New Nation 2, no. 5 (1 June 1925), 21-23 (21, 22).

(26.) Edith L. Kerr, 'New Zealand Literature' (Part II), The New Zealand Railways Magazine 8, no. 7 (1 November 1933), 51-52.

(27.) P.A. Lawlor, Confessions of a Journalist (Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd., 1935), p. 190.

(28.) Lawrence (22 April 1936), 20.

(29.) Gillespie (1 May 136), 11.

(30.) Ibid (1938), 15.

(31.) Otago Daily Times, 27 April 1936.

(32.) Alan Mulgan, 'The New Zealand Novel', Annak of New Zealand Literature pp. 9-11.

(33.) Robin Hyde, 'The New Zealand Woman in Letters', The Working Woman (April 1936), 4-5.

(34.) G.H. Scholefield, 'Books and their Authors: Literature of the Dominion', The Times (London), supplement on New Zealand, 22 February 1927, xxii.

(35.) Robin Hyde, Journalese (Auckland: National Printing Co. Ltd, 1934), p. 70.

(36.) Ibid, 'Women Have No Star', The Press (Christchurch), 5 June 1937, 17.

(37.) Isabel M. Cluett, 'Women Writers of New Zealand', The Mirror 8, no. 5 (1 November 1929), 59.

(38.) Kerr, 51.
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Author:Murray, Heather
Publication:JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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