Writers in Residence

Writers in Residence Jenny Robin Jones

‘Jones’s emotional investment in these early writers makes the book unexpectedly, and unusually, rewarding’

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 the known and the lesser known but all deserve inclusion for the contributions they made, often in discouraging circumstances, to the initiation of a genuine New Zealand literature.

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.  The author’s intention was ‘to capture something of the reality of the lives lived and to create a sense of this country as one inhabited by writers.’ Writers in Residence shows writing as a way in which a new place is explored and understood. Published by Auckland University Press in 2004.

To Preview and/or buy Writers in Residence

  • For a Google preview plus info about where the book is available to buy or borrow, click here. A google search for ‘Jenny Robin Jones Writers in Residence’ offers further options.
  • Writers in Residence is currently out of print but may soon be offered on Print on Demand. Contact Jenny Robin Jones for details. Some copies can be found for sale online, but they are pricey.

What the reviews said about Writers in Residence

Writers in Residence Jenny Robin Jones
Lady Barker

“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

“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

Writers in Residence Jenny Robin Jones
Samuel Butler

“..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.  …an 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

Writers in Residence Jenny Robin Jones
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

“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 For the full review click here

“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

Which writers are covered in Writers in Residence?

New Zealand’s very earliest: 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.

Writers in Residence Jenny Robin Jones
F E Maning

Online essays on Lady Barker, Alfred Domett, Jessie Mackay plus William Satchell

Peer-reviewed profiles of early New Zealand writers published online in the Literary Encyclopedia and Kotare: