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NEW ZEALAND WOMEN WRITERS

The latest number of C'assellV Magazine contains an article by 0. Hay i Thomson, who has been able to find only ten New Zealand women writers who are important enough to deserve separate paragraphs, and these are nearly all writers of poetry. The first woman's book to be printed in New Zealand was " Gabrielle, 3,and Other Poems," by Catherine H. Richardson, issued in 1875. An excerpt couched in Scottish dialect leads to the belief that the author was wife or daughter of one of the early Otago emigrants. [We believe that complete enquiries in Dunedin would show that the writer is in error here, and that Mrs Nugent Wood (originally Miss Susan Lapham, of Tasmania) was the first woman to publish a volume of noteworthy verse in New Zealand. —Ed. Ashburton Mail and Guardian.] Mrs James Glenny Wilson (Annie Adams), is a native of Victoria, Australia, and "devoted to her country," but on her marriage in 1874 she went to New Zealand, and has since resided there, near a township bearing the tinromantic name of ' 'Bulls," some thirty miles south of Wanganui. Marriage was Mrs Glenny Wilson's inspiration, and verse sketches, and short stories of herg appeared in the Australasian during the late 'seventies. She also met with I appreciation in the Spectator, Temple Bar, Eclectic, and the Century. Her collected verse, iinder the title " Themes and Variations," wa9 published in London in 1889. Two novels, "Alice Lauder" and "Two Summers," the fruit of a visit to the Old World, followed, and "A Book of Verses" from her pen appeared in 1901. These works had good treatment from English reviewers. Mrs Wilson sings of love and home and motherhood, and paints the Maori landscape with grace and power. In her gift of a certain luminous, lambent sarcasm she has no New Zealand rival. Miss Mary E. Richmond is the daughter of the late Mr Justice Richmond, for thirty-five years a distinguished member of the New Zealand Supreme Court, and niece of Sir Harry Atkinson, the Premier who pulled the country through its financial difficulties in the late 'eighties. Miss Richmond was born in the shadow of Mount Egmont, and when at home she lives .- in Wellington, " the windiest town on earth," where she has founded a free kindergarten. She is a fine product of a " free, self-governing democracy " ; she goes straight to the root of matters. Her belief is that " the primary school teacher is really the nation-builder." Thus her chief interest is education, and for that she has travelled far and wide. The first woman to hold a position on the staff of any New Zealand newspaper was Miss Dolce Cabot (Mrs Duncan V daughter of one of the Jersey Cabots, and lineally descended from the Genoese discoverer of the North American mainland. Born and brought up near Christchurch, Miss Cabot at ten years of age could read both French and German. In the early 'nineties, when the women of New Zealand were agitating for the franchise, Miss Cabot, then in the middle of her course for 8.A., wrote some powerful articles on the subject, with the result that she was invited to edit the " woman's pages" in the Canterbury Times. This position she held from 1894 until her marriage in October, 1907. Outside her editorial work, Mrs Duncan has written short stories and very pleasing verse, but this is simply a phase; it is her work for the progress' of women that she, regards with justifiable pride. *¥• Miss Mary Colborne-Veel, the daughter of an Oxford magister artium and of a lady who writes graceful fancies in smooth-flowing verso, was, in common parlance, born with a pen in her hand. Miss Colborne-Veel's surroundings were and are the most literary that a new country can afford. She began to write early, and her work has appeared in many New Zealand papers, as well as in the Atalanta, Black and White, and The Author. "The Fairest of the Angels, and Other Verses" appeared in London in 1894. The death of her father in the following year led her to adopt journalism as a profession, her department being chiefly leaders on literary or general subjepts. One of the most brilliant of the band is Edith Howitt .Searle (Mrs Grossmann), who, though not a poet, is indeed something more than a journalist. Born in Victoria, she spent her childhood in tho bush, with one year in Melbourne. Then to- New Zealand, where later she was one of tho most distinguished women students Canterbury College has ever entertained. After taking her M.A. degree, she taught for some time, and then ventured on the perilous sea of journalism as a leader writer on literary or historical subjects and social movements. At present she js settled in London, and has had articles in The Contemporary and The Nineteenth Century and After. Last year she published her fourth book, "A Knight of the Holy Ghost." Miss Jessie Mackay, one of the most diligent journalists of the Southern Isles, was born and grew up on her father's station at the foot of the Southern Alps, although her name im--1 plies that she comes from a raco of hardy Scotsmen. One of her best poems, " A Folk Song," has been described as j " the finest poem that has come out of New Zealand." For the last eight or nine years Miss Mackay has been one of the regular literary staff of the Otago Witness. Miss Dora Wilcox's dainty white booklet, ( " Verses from Maoriland," appeared in. London so lately as 1905. Any of the two dozen poems in her book might be quoted, for Miss Wilcox's lyre has many strings, and she has plumbed the depths of human —especially women's —nature. The poem entitled "Onawe," displays some of her best gifts—descriptive power, sympathetic recognition of the inevitable, and a fine artistry of versification.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19090317.2.3

Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXIX, Issue 7747, 17 March 1909

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977

NEW ZEALAND WOMEN WRITERS Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXIX, Issue 7747, 17 March 1909

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