This is a book about nineteenth-century New Zealand writers, which presents in human terms what it meant to be a writer in a strange new land. Unexpected people took to the pen; travellers recorded their adventures; soldiers, judges, civil servants burst into print. The 20 writers include Joel Polack, William Colenso, Edward Jerningham Wakefield, Frederick Maning, John Logan Campbell, Samuel Butler, Lady Barker, and end with Blanche Baughan and Jessie Mackay. While the book required considerable research it is not an academic book but, with its strong biographical emphasis, is lively and accessible. It aims to take these talented, entertaining and courageous characters out of the exclusive possession of the scholars into the New Zealand mainstream as part of a general sense of the past lived in this land. As the author says, 'I hope to have captured something of the reality of the lives lived and to create a sense of this country as one inhabited by writers.' It shows writing as a way in which a new place is explored and understood. An engaging and unusual book.
Jenny Robin Jones has been writing for many years and has published numerous short stories and articles. She has done Bill Manhire's creative writing course and received a grant from Creative NZ to research and write this book. She was previously executive director of the NZ Society of Authors and is currently editor of Education Today and a freelance writer. She lives in Auckland.