PAUL WOODFORD DAY, R.I.P.
Paul died peacefully last week in Auckland's North Shore Hospital in his 92nd year.
Paul was a charming and agreeable man whom I met many times over the years at book trade functions when he was accompanying his wife Gabrielle who was a much loved and highly respected Hamilton bookseller. They made a great couple and were always excellent and erudite company. I extend my condolences to Gabrielle and the family.
Although I knew him as a spouse and escort of a noted bookseller he was of course a major figure in his own right and I recall him being awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato in 1998.
Professor Vincent O'Sullivan was formerly a colleague of Paul's at Waikato University and I caught him on the phone as he was about to board a flight to Sydney but in the brief time we could speak he said that "Paul was an excellent man - prisoner of war, Oxford after the war, a fine teacher and theatre producer, instrumental in establishing Waikato University."
I then contacted Mark Williams a peripateic professor at the University of Canterbury, and a noted authority on New Zealand literature and he had the following to say:
Paul Day represented a generation of New Zealand university teachers with a
coherent set of humanist and communitarian values based in the memory of the
Depression and the experience of war. He taught for many years in the
English Department at Waikato, a new and experimental university in the
1960s. In the late 1960s, at a time when New Zealand literature was just beginning to figure in local literary studies, he delivered public lectures on John Mulgan in Hamilton. In the 1970s he welcomed the arrival of a generation of Maori writers.
His study of Mulgan remains an important start to any consideration of this
crucial figure in our literature.
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