A beautifully written biography about the talented, reclusive Janet Frame; Janet Frame, born in 1924, came to international attention through her poignant and beautifully written autobiographical series, An Angel at my Table. New Zealand's most celebrated yet most reclusive author, her early life makes tragic reading: one brother still-born, another epileptic; two sisters dead of heart failure; Frame herself committed to mental hospitals for the best part of a decade. All this and more propelled Frame into a state of intense depression and suffering. King's inspiring biography tells the story of a woman who climbed out of an abyss of overwhelming unhappiness to take control of her life and become one of the great writers of her time. With unprecendented access to Frame's personal papers and to the woman herself, Michael King has fashioned a biography of astonishing intimacy and frankness. That Frame has previously been known above all else for her reticence makes this achievement all the more remarkable.
Winner of Book Data New Zealand Booksellers' Choice Award 2001.
Winner of Montana New Zealand Book Awards: Readers' Choice Award 2001.
Winner of Montana New Zealand Book Awards: Montana Medal for Non-Fiction 2001.
Michael King is New Zealand's leading biographer and historian. A prolific and award-winning writer over thirty years, he is the author of twenty-eight books.
The Artist who lives on the edge and brings back gems from that place, but is misunderstood instead and incarcerated in mental institutions - that was the result of New Zealand author Janet Frame's unusual sensitivity, the price for her literary talent. Anxiety and depression were to dog Frame for most of her life even after the ten year spell in puritanical Victorian institutions where she was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and narrowly escaped having a lobotomy. It was in London, at the Maudsley Hospital that she was freed from the awful sentence of schizophrenia by a doctor who told her that the New Zealand diagnosis had been wrong. She became one of New Zealand's most eloquent and influential literary writers, transmuting the tragedies of her life (there were many, including the death of two sisters by drowning) into distinguished writing which won her many accolades, including a nomination for the Nobel Prize. Her three volume autobiography was made into a film - 'An Angel at my Table'. A most reclusive writer, she used her self-imposed solitude to publish over twenty books. Of computers she said, 'I feel I am betraying artists by venturing into the world of computers,' but once she had mastered them she was 'hooked'. It is a tribute to the skill and sensitivity of Michael King that she asked him, at age 71, to write about her in this book. Frame's writer's spirit, as fragile as an eggshell, porous and incredibly sensitised to life, is captured well and the book does what few biographies manage to do: it gets into the psyche of the subject so we can see why Frame was so celebrated and loved. Detailed but not burdensome for it, the biography is both accessible if it is long and is absorbing and gentle in its treatment of the mercurial genius of this woman writer. (Kirkus UK)