I am just back from three enjoyable and interesting days in Dunedin. I was there along with four other “old hands” from the publishing world – Wendy Harrex, Gerard Reid, Barbara Larson and Elizabeth Caffin , (Anna Rogers had also been invited but was unable to attend at the last minute) - at the invitation of Dr.Shef Rogers who along with Dr.Noel Waite, (author of Books for a Nation – The Whitcoulls Story), and three other University of Otago colleagues - Lachy Patterson, Donald Kerr, Tony Ballantyne - is preparing a History of the Book in New Zealand.
Shef Rogers is particularly responsible for the years 1970 to the present so the NZ book industry during that time was the focus of our discussions. I joined the book trade, as a bookseller in Napier, just a year or two before this period so what a nostalgic journey our deliberations proved for me.
Shef, (short for Sheffield by the way), had cleverly asked each of us to select and bring with us 10 or so images we regarded as significant from the period to present to the group. There were no suggestions or examples given so it was especially interesting to see the images that we each took along.
For the record my ten images were largely photos of authors and book jackets including:
Waiariki – Patricia Grace
The Bone People – Keri Hulme – The Spiral Collective
Frank Sargeson – A Life – Michael King
Wrestling with the Angels - A Life of Janet Frame – Michael King
Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones
Plus the five authors of the above titles
To these books and authors I added:
Margaret Mahy, The Robert Burns Fellowship
The Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship
And all writers residencies and fellowships, laureates etc. Of course there were many other authors and titles whom I could have included but most of these were covered by other members of the group - Fiona Kidman, Owen Marshall, James McNeish, Maurice Gee, C.K.Stead, Robin Hyde, Katherine Mansfield and so on.
Collectively all of these diverse images made for a great deal of discussion and a useful basis on which to start drawing up a time line for the history of the book in New Zealand these past 40 years.
Shef Rogers – firstname.lastname@example.org
Noel Waite – email@example.com
Other Dunedin highlights:
My earlier reference to Dunedin’s Public Library celebrating its centennial on 2 December in which I noted their claim that they were the first free public library in New Zealand has brought forth a number of suggestions from readers of the blog that this is not the case. One suggested to me that Auckland had a free public library in 1877. Can someone from the library community advise me on this matter? http://www.dunedinlibraries.govt.nz/
The Otago Daily Times had a full page (no advertising filling any part of it) of book reviews yesterday, Saturday November 22, including a long and enthusiastic review of The Best New Zealand Fiction 5 Edited by Owen Marshall, Vintage $35 by Lawrence Jones, emeritus professor of English and former Chair of the Montana NZ Book Awards judging panel.
The Otago Scottish Heritage Council are presenting their annual Scottish Week 22 – 30 November with a raft of activities promoting all things Scottish in the city.
The Anna & John Caelberg Charitable Trust has artists and writers residencies at Broad Bay on Otago Peninsular which I had not heard about previously. Anna Caselberg was an artist and the daughter of one of New Zealand’s best-known painters Sir Toss Woolaston, while John Caelberg was a poet, playwright and essayist who held the Burns Fellowship in 1961