The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 6 (September 1, 1934)
Among the Books — A Literary Page or Two
I am pleased to hear that at long last New Zealand writers have set a movement on foot to recognise in some public way the great work done for New Zealand literature by Miss Jessie Mackay of Christchurch. Miss Mackay has intimated that what she would most value would be a letter signed by those who have achieved something for New Zealand literature. I understand that the testimonial will be presented to her in Christchurch.
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Still another New Zealand black and white artist has deserted these shores for the more remunerative fields of Australia. Stuart Petersen, for the last few years cartoonist of the “New Zealand Free Lance,” left for Sydney last month. He was one of our most promising artists, not only in cartoon and caricature work but as an etcher and illustrator. One of his achievements was his illustrating of that outstanding work, “Legends of the Maori.”
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I have received a copy of a catalogue published by Newbold's the big second hand bookshop in Dunedin. Among a host of interesting items is Thomas Bracken's “Flowers of the Free Lands” which is inscribed on the fly leaf by the author to “Thorpe Talbot,” the penname of the wife of Judge J. S. Williams. The item is priced at £4. In addition to the New Zealand books are many general items of interest to collectors. The catalogue is sent free on application.
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To be published shortly by J. M. Dent and Sons is Mr. Alan Mulgan's first novel “Spur of Morning.” It is a fairly lengthy novel of political and social life in this country.
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Under preparation by the Caxton Club, Canterbury College, is a small volume of verse from the pens of a number of our younger poets. Among those to be represented will be A. R. D. Fairburn, R. A. K. Mason, Eric Cook, and Allen Curnow.
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A children's supplement recently made its appearance in the Christchurch “Press” under the title of “The Press Junior.” It is printed separately of a size convenient for the young readers, and appears on Thursday of each week. Among well known contributors is Johannes C. Andersen. This is the first feature of this kind to appear in any New Zealand paper, and is a tribute to the enterprise of the editor, Mr. Hugo Freeth.
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Although it was published a few months ago I have just come across a copy of “Three Mile Bush,” the work of a young literary enthusiast of Carterton. The author is Mr. Warwick R. Lawrence who is still in his teens.
The book is the first history of the Wairarapa ever published. Among the many congratulatory reviews and letters received by the young author was a communication from Government House which stated: “Your vigorous enterprise as an author has been of more than ordinary interest to His Excellency who sends you his best wishes for further success as an author.”
Copies of the book may be obtained from the author, Box 18, Carterton.
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Another novel by a New Zealand writer is to be published shortly in Australia. The title of the book is “The Rebel” and the author is Miss Alice A. Kenny who has been a well-known contributor to many papers in Australia and New Zealand for many years past. The characters fall into two groups, a family on a seaside farm and a party of holiday makers in a beach cottage. The plot turns chiefly on the efforts of the Rebel to break away from the tyranny of an old-fashioned father, and on the return of a son supposed to be lost at sea many years before. There is some excitement in the story and some happy love making.
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I have had an interesting letter from Miss Nelle Scanlan with reference to the recent big congress of the P.E.N. in Scotland. The New Zealand branch appointed her as their delegate to this congress. She states that of all the international conferences she has attended, and she has been to a great many, at Geneva and elsewhere, she has never heard such outspoken addresses as at the congress referred to. She states that she found many of the delegates greatly interested in New Zealand, and that she made many new friends among them. The two new circles present at the congress were Egypt and New Zealand. Miss Scanlan has had very fine press notices in London following the publication of her latest novel “Winds of Heaven.” The London “Morning Post” remarked that Miss Scanlan is a “find.” “John O'London's Weekly” described the novel as “an engrossing book.
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The following interesting letter comes from Mr. C. R. Allen, the well known Dunedin author:—
“I was interested in the information contained in your book notes as to the amount received for a first novel; £40 seems a very generous allowance on account page 37 of royalties. In my day £25 was the standard payment in advance on account of royalties. This meant that 850 copies of the novel had to be sold before the author earned any additional royalties. ‘The Ship Beautiful’ sold between two and three thousand copies, and I received about £40 in all. ‘Brown Smock’ just about earned the preliminary £25. I have certainly received nothing further, but in the process of ‘jobbing‘ the book ’the publishers probably made the small deficit good. ‘Tarry Knight’ was published without any preliminary fee and earned me about £7. It will thus be seen that my three novels earned me £80 between them. I supply this information, as I think that authors' earnings are a matter of vital interest to many who read books. It may be of interest to know that ‘The Ship Beautiful’ was rejected by Mudie's, but ultimately taken in by that library. ‘Brown Smock’ was taken by Mudie's on publication, owing, I presume, to a certain demand among Mudie's clients. Mr. Frewing Warne, of Frederick Warne and Co., told me for my comfort that ‘Daddy Long Legs’ was turned down by Mudie's at first, and that subsequently this library was compelled to take two thousand copies of that popular work. When the ‘Life of H. M. Stanley,’ the explorer, appeared, a raid upon Mudie's was organised in the interests of the book. I once heard Mr. Carr-Genn, a director of the Bodley Head, declare that his firm rushed out an edition of the work of Anatole France on Jean D'Arc on the occasion of the production of ‘Saint Joan’ at the New Theatre. When one has been once subjected to the publishing virus it is difficult to rid oneself of the fever. News that one's book has been ‘jobbed’ is akin to news of the death of a child. This is, no doubt, a mercenary way to think of one's book, but after all, the test of your book's appeal is the willingness of the public to buy it. I have met publishers from time to time, and have always felt the fascination of their calling. I incorporated a dictum of Mr. Andrew Melrose, now no longer with us, into my little play ‘Pierette Cheats the Publisher’ (I will not disclose how many pennies this little play has earned me; by buying a copy you would enrich me by that amount.) He said that he still looked upon publishing as a great adventure; still hoped for a great coup. He praised my play “When Mr. Punch was Young,’ but said he could not act as Fairy Godmother to me in that matter. The Fairy Godmother eventually turned up in the person of Mr. Basil Blackwell, of Oxford.”
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“Shibli” Listens in.
I hear that Jack Gilmour, the New Zealand cartoonist, is now in Australia.
Ian Coster, formerly of the defunct Auckland “Sun,” has been appointed film critic of the London “Evening Standard.” Previously he was with the “Sunday Dispatch” and managing editor of “Nash's Magazine.”
I hear that the “Australian Woman's Weekly” contemplates publishing a New Zealand edition at an early date.
A vastly improved magazine is “The New Zealand Licensee.” Free lance contributors will be interested to know that it pays for contributions.
“Landseekers,” the great new Australian novel, ran into a second edition within a week of publication.
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“The Yellow Joss,” by Ion L. Idriess (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), is a collection of short stories built on actual fact and experience. The locale of most of them is in and about the wildest portions of Australia. As is to be expected from such a well known and experienced writer, Mr. Idriess handles his stories with skill and artistry. They are all interesting, and a revelation of the triumphs and tragedies to be found in the battle for existence in the wilder portions of the great Australian continent. It is well worth adding to the fast growing library of Australian books.
“Conflict,” by E. V. Timms (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), is one of the most ambitious novels ever published in Australia. It is a long time since a story held me so strongly. It is a romance of the 17th century. The scene changes rapidly from the tragedies of simple fisher folk to the intrigues of people in high places; from glittering ballroom to the horrors of the galley slaves; from Bishop's Palace to the pirate quarter deck. The huge canvas is painted in vivid and striking colours by the power of the author's pen. I must confess though that the reiteration of the alleged wholesale profanity of the period will be wearisome to some and objectionable to others. Likewise, adherents of the Old Faith will not appreciate the fact that the author has made the deepest-dyed villain of the peace, held up to scorn and ridicule, a high placed ecclesiastic.
“Concrete for the Farm and Home.” The handyman will be keenly interested in this booklet, recently published. The mixing and laying down of concrete is to many an otherwise handy man full of insurmountable difficulties. This book sets out in the simplest and most practical manner possible the whole formulae of concrete mixing and the construction of the multitudinous forms in which it is laid out for the improvement of home and farm. Paths, pavements, motor drives, tanks, walls, steps, etc., are all described under their separate headings in a manner that allows of no mistake. The illustrations are numerous and most helpful. This most useful book may be had free by sending 3d. in stamps to “Concrete,” Box 134, Wellington.