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Writers in Residence

A Journey with Pioneer New Zealand Writers

published by Auckland University Press 2004

From the back cover:-Cover of Writers in Residence

This book about twenty nineteenth-century New Zealand writers 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 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 aims to take these talented, entertaining and courageous characters out of the exclusive possession of the scholars by recreating them as ordinary people excited by their experiences and surprised to find themselves making history.
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.’ An engaging and unusual book, Writers in Residence shows writing as a way in which a new place is explored and understood.

AUP online description

“With apparent effortlessness and a refreshing lack of seriousness, this book about nineteenth-century writers in New Zealand presents in human terms what it meant to be a writer in a strange new land, and covers in a most palatable way a good deal of nineteenth-century social, political and literary history….”

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What the reviews said about Writers in ResidenceLady Barker

"Jones gives us a series of versions of what the Australian novelist Gerald Murnane would call ‘the breathing author’. She lets us see these writers as human beings, and thereby opens up their work in an entirely new way….
We in the more metropolitan English-speaking countries do not take the writers chronicled by Jones seriously. To us, they are just precursors… but these writers are part of our literature – Anglophone literature. Jones’s compelling treatment of them makes the case for why we should care about them in the most forceful and convincing way. Jones’s subject deserved treatment in any event, but her emotional investment in these early writers makes the book unexpectedly, and unusually, rewarding."
Extract from 'Should we care about “Old New Zealand”?' A review by Nicholas Birns in Antipodes, December 2004.

      Lady Barker - Image details

“Jenny Jones, in a readable and refreshingly non-judgemental study, gives vivid life to some of the intellectual shapers of colonial New Zealand… Jones’ pioneers are the writers who come at the beginning of literary activity in this country”
Extract from 'Carefully worded history'. A review by Mark Williams in Sunday Star Times, 9 May, 2004
Samuel Butler

“Jones is an exhaustive researcher, but her light touch, obvious enjoyment of her subject, and eye for amusing detail lift these figures off the page and into our imaginations.”
Extract from a review by Margie Thomson in the New Zealand Herald 8-9 May 2004.

“As Jenny Robin Jones shows in her uneven, entertaining and anecdotal book, New Zealand could never have been merely an idealized reflection of the Empire. Writers in Residence emphasizes the crucial role of the Maori in fostering an indigenous literary tradition (although Jones can barely stifle a yawn over Domett’s magnum opus, Ranolf and Amohia, inspired by Maori mythology).”
Extract from review by Michael Caines in Times Literary Supplement, 29 April 2005

Samuel Butler - Image details    

“..a lively and thoroughly readable account of the emergence of New Zealand literature set against a backdrop of missionary infighting, epic bush and coastal journeys, wide-ranging exchanges with Maori, the rigours of settlement and lengthy lines of contact with northern hemisphere culture. By tracing the lives of her subjects in conjunction with their writings, Jenny Robin Jones has provided an important link in the chain of knowledge about New Zealand writers and writing. extremely valuable addition to materials sought by teachers and students of New Zealand literature and social history...”
Extract from review by Trevor Dobbin, senior lecturer at Auckland College of Education, in Education TODAY, Issue 3, 2004

Jessie Mackay

“I hope this monograph can be thoroughly indexed in the National Library’s Index New Zealand (INNZ) so that secondary school level students and other curious researchers can discover insights into the extraordinary people presented in Writers in Residence.
Extract from review by Jane Wild in NZ Libraries, Vol 49, No 11, 2004


Jessie Mackay - Image details    

"These 20 'writers' were by no means a group or representatives of a movement; most scribbled in isolation with limited knowledge of the others, their lives or work…. Jones has undertaken a huge and very difficult task.
All credit must go to her for unearthing a wealth of fascinating material and weaving together fragments of history, chunks of disparate prose, poetry, journalism, letters, reminiscences, to create a lively – coherent – prose style."
Extract from Ploughing a lone furrow, review by Julia Millen in New Zealand Books, August 2004

"It is a most astounding and authentic interpretation of the lives of pioneer men and women, their hardships, their loyalties and their courage."
Extract from review by Danelle Wilson
in Bay of Plenty Times, 8 May 2004
Frederick Manning
       F E Maning - Image details

List of New Zealand’s first writers covered in Writers in Residence:

John Nicholas, Samuel Marsden, Thomas Kendall, Joel Polack, William Colenso, Edward Jerningham Wakefield, F E Maning, John Logan Campbell, Alfred Domett, Samuel Butler, Lady Barker, John Barr, Thomas Bracken, Alexander Bathgate and Vincent Pyke, William Jackson Barry, Edward Tregear, William Pember Reeves, Jessie Mackay and Blanche Baughan.