Katherine Mansfield’s “hedonistic” period

Katherine Mansfield’s “hedonistic” period

Katherine Mansfield destroyed letters and journals relating to 1909-10, a time when she was in reckless search of ‘life experience’ and had several lovers, a one-night marriage, and probably two aborted pregnancies. Now UK researcher Dr Gerri Kimber – the recipient of the 2015 Friends of Turnbull Library Research Grant – has discovered a folder of 35 poems by Katherine Mansfield dating from this time, in the manuscript collections of the Newberry Library in Chicago. Apparently retained by the London publisher who rejected them for publication in 1910, they were eventually sold to an American buyer who then passed them to the Newberry Library in 1999. Although they were catalogued as poems by Katherine Mansfield, no previous researcher had stumbled on to the realisation that these were not yet included in any listings of KM writing.

Dr Gerri Kimber, a leading authority on Katherine Mansfield, has been working on a new biography of Katherine Mansfield’s early years. She is a tenacious researcher who has already located previously unpublished material relating to KM’s first 19 years in New Zealand. Dr Kimber will use the FoTL Research Grant to visit Wellington in August 2015 to explore the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, which is renowned for its substantial archives concerning Mansfield. This material includes the recently acquired literary and personal papers from the estate of John Middleton Murry, Mansfield’s husband.

Gerri Kimber will be speaking at a FoTL public lecture at the National Library of New Zealand on Tuesday 4 August at 5.30pm.

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History wins the Royal Society Science Prize

Tangata_Whenua_Cover_HR-winner-stickerTangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, written by Atholl Anderson, the late Dame Judith Binney and Aroha Harris and published by Bridget Williams Books, has been honoured with the prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand 2015 Science Book Prize. Described by the judges as ‘a dazzling work of scholarship’, this superb Māori history offers new perspectives on our past and presents a dynamic narrative, based on archival research, oral history and the many published stories of the past two hundred years.

Speaking for the Royal Society of New Zealand, Dr Andrew Cleland noted that Tangata Whenua incorporates research from a wide range of disciplines from the sciences, including social science, and the humanities, which mirrors the breadth of scholarship supported by the Society.

Call for Papers

Contributions are now invited for the 2016 issue of the Turnbull Library Record.

The Turnbull Library Record is a peer-reviewed journal in the humanities, published yearly by the Alexander Turnbull Library in association with the Friends of the Turnbull Library. It publishes information relating to the activities of the Library, as well as articles covering a wide range of research, with special emphasis on the societies and cultures of New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Its purpose is to increase knowledge of the Library’s collections by showing their scope and richness, and the ways researchers are using them.

The 2016 Record will not be themed, but will instead be a general issue. Articles or pictorial essays should be between 2,000-5,000 words. Contributions that have not been previously published are welcome and, before acceptance, will be independently refereed. They should be written in a lively and accessible manner, with a scholarly underpinning.

Deadline for the submission of papers is 1 September 2015.

The Editorial Board reserves the right to decline to publish an article, whether solicited or unsolicited. For more information, to propose an idea, or to submit a paper, please contact the Managing Editor: Fiona Oliver



Once on Chunuk Bair

In a talk to the Friends on Wednesday 11 March, Dr Lucy Treep – recipient of the 2014 FoTL Research Grant – spoke about Maurice Shadbolt’s play, Once on Chunuk Bair, which was produced by Ian Mune at the Mercury Theatre in Auckland, opening on ANZAC Day 1982. She said Shadbolt first visited the battle site on Gallipoli in 1977, and almost immediately began to think about writing a play to convey the story of the New Zealanders’ experiences. That first Auckland production was acclaimed; but Shadbolt himself was irate at a last-minute cut of two pages in the script. Later, the play was published by Shadbolt as a book with an introduction by Michael Neill. The cut pieces were reinstated and Shadbolt made extensive revisions to the script, this time drawing on a series of interviews he began in June 1982 with a number of returned servicemen for a television documentary. By 1989 Shadbolt had reassessed the whole episode and decided that “Chunuk Bair is a contemporary play. … It is only ostensibly about New Zealand’s fatal day on Chunuk Bair on August 8, 1915. It was really about New Zealanders – and New Zealand – seventy years on.” Lucy Treep sees this as an indication that Shadbolt was actively seeking to not only interrogate commonly held myths but also to create them, to shape the ‘spirit of the age’, or the ‘spirit of a nation’.


Dr Lucy Treep speaking at the National Library of New Zealand on 11 March. Photo: Kate Fortune

Rona: a gentleman’s racing yacht

Alexander Turnbull’s classic yacht Rona, built by Robert Logan Sr in Auckland in 1892, is still afloat – but is in need of renovating. Hank Schouten of the Dominion Post (Monday March 2) described this beautiful Kauri racing yacht as needing major repairs, including a realignment of the hull and new decking. In Alexander’s lifetime, the Rona won the 1893 Auckland Regatta and the 1895 Wellington Regatta, and it has continued to be successfully raced up to the present day. It was bought in 1981 and fully restored over nine years by Nelson architect John Palmer (who spoke to the Friends of the Turnbull Library about his project in August 2005). Since 2006 it has been owned by the Rona Preservation Trust.



Stout Memorial Fellowship to Gregory O’Brien

Greg O'Brien

Gregory O’Brien at the FoTL Founder Lecture, 3 July 2013, at the Spectrum Theatre, BP House, Wellington. Photo: Kate Fortune


Art-writer, poet, anthologist and essayist, Gregory O’Brien has been awarded the 2015 Stout Memorial Fellowship for 2015. Greg has spent much of the past three decades exploring the adjacent territories of imagination and research, of inspiration and scholarship. The Fellowship will allow him to complete a book on art, literature and the environment – passions that have inspired his prolific output, and themes which he drew on in presenting the FoTL Founder Lecture, “Imagination and Research”, in 2013. Greg’s recent books include a collection of poems, Beauties of the Octagonal Pool (2012) as well as monographic publications on artists including Euan Macleod, Pat Hanly and Graham Percy. He has also written two books introducing New Zealand art to young people: Welcome to the South Seas (2004) and Back and Beyond (2008).

Expanding New Zealand’s historical perspective


Atholl Anderson, Bridget Williams and Aroha Harris at the National Library on 4 February, with FoTL President Rachel Underwood

An extraordinary history, six years in the planning, was published by Bridget Williams Books in November. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, written by Professor Atholl Anderson, Dame Judith Binney (who died before the project was completed) and Dr Aroha Harris, charts the sweep of Māori history from ancient origins to the 21st century. Lively, lucid and lavishly illustrated, it combines archaeology, anthropology, linguistics and oral traditions (Anderson) with colonial history (Binney) and ever-changing post-colonial developments (Harris). This is a rich and authoritative book that provides valuable insights for the future.

Atholl Anderson and Aroha Harris – distinguished researchers and eloquent speakers – spoke to the Friends on Wednesday 4 February about their roles in this huge project. Atholl is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University, Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Canterbury and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Otago. Aroha lectures in History at the University of Auckland and is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.TW_cover

Mansfield researcher wins 2015 Research Grant

A research project into the childhood and early life of Katherine Mansfield has won the 2015 Friends of the Turnbull Library (FoTL) Research Grant of $10,000.

 Dr Gerri Kimber (pictured below right) is a leading UK authority on Katherine Mansfield. She has been working on a new biography of Katherine Mansfield’s early years and has already located previously unpublished material relating to her first 19 years in New Zealand. Dr Kimber will use the FoTL Research Grant to explore the collections of Wellington’s Alexander Turnbull Library, which is renowned for its substantial archives concerning Mansfield. This material includes the recently acquired literary and personal papers from the estate of John Middleton Murry, Mansfield’s husband.

 Dr Kimber expects to complete the biography in 2015, and her book is to be published by the Edinburgh University Press.

 Gerri Kimber‘Gerri Kimber’s work will shed new light on Mansfield’s early life and the significant influence of her New Zealand childhood on her writing.’ said Rachel Underwood, President of the Friends of the Turnbull Library. ‘This research project will enrich our understanding of KM and reinforce the immense value of the archives of the Turnbull Library.’


Augustus Koch: Artist, printer, cartoonist and cartographer

Rolf Brednich, who has been researching a biography of the German-born New Zealander Augustus Koch (1834-1901), spoke about his life and work at a meeting of the Friends of the Turnbull Library on Tuesday 21 October.

Koch first visited New Zealand as a seaman on a sailing ship in 1855. He returned in 1858, bringing a printing press so that he could produce prints of his own artwork, and settled in Auckland with his bride. Within a few months he became known to other European New Zealanders – Dr Karl Fisher, Dr Ferdinand Hochstetter and Julius Haast – and subsequently joined the Austrian Novara Expedition as meteorological observer and later mapmaker.

Rolf Brednich retired from a long involvement in ethnology and folklore, and turned his attention to Koch’s remarkable immigrant career. Realising that this story needed to be documented, he has spent several years working on the biography which is to be published soon by Steele Roberts. It will include many of Koch’s sketches held in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Rolf Brednich at the National Library of New Zealand on 21 October

Rolf Brednich at the National Library of New Zealand on 21 October