Monday, February 03, 2014
George Griffiths R.I.P.
I knew George fairly well. In fact my only months of book selling were working at Otago Heritage Books between finishing my PhD and getting a 'real job' in Wellington. What with business partner Judy's welcoming calm and George's ODT/publishing/research activities, it was a lively little hub in Moray Place, even if it had an outside loo! Visitors from the UK marvelled that they had never seen any regional bookshop as comprehensive back 'Home'. Locals included ODT journos, academics, local historians, anthropologists, artists such as Grahame Sydney and. of course, customers.
George loved to hold court during his lunch breaks from the paper. His interests swooped and soared, everything from cricket, politics, natural history to, of course, the history of the south.
In its time, Otago Heritage Books produced an impressive list. He always said that a perfect OHB book would cover everything that needed to be said about a place, no matter how small. I had the privilege of producing two small books for OHB, all carefully edited and presented.
The list bridged the amateur and the academic. Highlights included Tom Brooking's biography of William Cargill and James Ng's massive four-volume history of the Chinese in New Zealand.