These damn kiwis – they got me !

A few days ago I read an article as to reasons why New Zealand really hadn’t produced any significant writers before the twentieth century.

I was reading the article as I’ve taken to reading nineteenth century novels as part of trying to understand the Madeleine Smith trial in context – Wilkie Collins was certainly influenced by the trial, as evidenced by the character of Lydia Gwilt in Armadale, and as the past is another country where they did things differently, and also trying to understand the colonial view.

While the Madeleine Smith trial was news in Australia and New Zealand it seems to have been less of a sensation in the United States.

New Zealand I can see – until gold was disovered in the 1860’s the non Maori population was both small – around 50,000, and recently arrived from the UK with organised settlement only starting some twenty years before.

And of course this could explain the lack of literary output – too small a talent pool and a population of hardworking farmers do not a literary scene make, despite the obvious parallels with the vernacular kailyaird writers of North East Scotland.

The authors of the article were clearly thinking literary here, Fergus Hume, even though he ran away from Dunedin to Melbourne wasn’t mentioned despite his importance to the development of the English crime novel

Anyway in the article the authors mention a fictional author, Willie Hollins, who wrote a mystery novel called ‘Greenstone’ about an ethnographer who purloined a sacred Maori carved chunk of greenstone.

I got the reference to Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, but just for a moment thought that there might actually have been a Kiwi reworking of the Moonstone …

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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