At a time when state funding of the arts is under threat, the history of the New Zealand Literary Fund (1947‒1988) provides a compelling example of how vital that assistance has been in the growth of New Zealand literature. In her talk Elizabeth Caffin suggests this is the back story of how the literary arts in this country reached the maturity, the confidence and the variety we know today. The fund was a small amount of public money skilfully dispensed over forty years to hundreds of writers and publishers. Unobtrusively but persistently, the fund and the dedicated men and women who allotted its largesse laid the foundations of the literary culture we enjoy today. From a small gesture of government patronage in the postwar world, it slowly grew, expanding its reach, enlarging its ambitions and acquiring partners. This is its story.