Book Review Corner: ‘These Violent Delights’ by Chloe Gong

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post written by Collections Assistant – Publications, Gini Jory

 ‘The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.’

In this 1920s retelling of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, a blood feud between two rival gangs that has been going on for generations has swept Shanghai into chaos. The Scarlets, with their newly returned heir from America, Juliette Cai, have previously been almost unchallenged for power, except by their rivals, the Russian White Flowers. But now with the various colonial powers as well as the Chinese Nationalists and Communist party all vying for control of the ancient city, the lawless power of the gangs is being threatened. And when gangsters on both sides start ripping their own throats out, their strenuous hold on power starts to slip even more as the people start whispering of a madness, and a monster in the shadows. To figure out who is behind the madness and save her people, Juliette must team up with the heir to the White Flowers, Roma Montagov- her first lover, and her first betrayal.

Welcome back to the Book Review Corner of the Hocken blog! In this post we discuss New Zealand author Chloe Gong’s New York Times Bestseller These Violent Delights, a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920’s Shanghai featuring a horrible monster, political intrigue, queer characters, and a scathing takedown of colonialism. If you like Shakespeare, historical fiction and fantasy, this might be right up your alley!

Before we get into These Violent Delights, I want to take a moment to talk about its author, Chloe Gong. She is only 23 and finished writing this book at 19. NINETEEN. When it was released in November 2020 it debuted at no.3 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was on there for over six months, which is an incredible achievement for a first novel. The sequel Our Violent Ends came out in late 2021 to equal success, and Gong already has a spinoff series in the work with the first book being released this September, and an adult fantasy series due out 2023. Born in Shanghai, Gong grew up on the North Shore but went to university in America as she knew that was where she’d want to publish. She’s been writing since she was 13, and These Violent Delights was her eighth completed manuscript. And while many might think she’s a bit young to be so successful (most young adult authors are a lot further removed from the intended age genre), I think this is in part why she’s been so successful. She knows what young adults are looking at online, how they come across content and what will make them purchase a book. Gong’s own tiktok is a great example of her own marketing- she was creating videos of makeup looks inspired by the White Flowers, sharing quotes from her novels and inspirations for these, and following viral trends. And it worked- I heard about this book from an Asian-American ‘bookstagram’ creator I follow on Instagram, and the creator sounded so genuinely excited about it that I pre-ordered my personal copy that day. This is the kind of organic work of mouth marketing that Gong was aiming for, and it has obviously aided her success.

Back to the review. I really loved this book, and thought it was a great modernisation of such a classic story. Romeo and Juliet was never my favourite Shakespeare play but Gong has really taken it in a much darker direction. In this adaptation we no longer have two very young star-crossed lovers but two bitter and jaded eighteen-year-olds whose secret love affair when they were fifteen ended in disaster and betrayal. Juliette has recently returned from America a true flapper, with beaded dresses and gelled hair to take her place as heir to the Scarlet gang empire- an empire that is under threat from foreign powers. Roma is seemingly on the verge of losing his place as heir to the White Flowers as the gap between himself and his father widens. Both are on rocky ground when a madness starts to spread through Shanghai, affecting members of both their gangs as they are infected by some sort of insect and compelled to rip their own throats out. (Warning- there are a few very gory descriptions of violence in this book.) When they run into each other as they are both separately investigating the cause of the madness, they realise it is within their best interests to work together and use both of their connections to solve the mystery. But as their families have a rival blood feud, they must do so in secret, not even telling their closest friends.

The new family and friends Gong introduces was part of what really sold this book to me. There are the obvious adaptations- Tyler for Tybalt, Marshall for Mercutio, Benedikt for Benvolio- but Gong also introduces female cousins for Juliette, to give her someone her own age and gender to confide in. These cousins, Rosalind and Kathleen are the cornerstone of Juliet’s family life and give a view of how others in her family are treated in the Scarlet gang hierarchy. Roma is also given a younger sister, Alisa- perhaps to make him slightly less impulsive and willing to sacrifice his own life. These family and friends are given their own point of view chapters as well, so we get the story not only from the sometimes very jaded views of our main couple. It is also through these characters that Gong subtlety and naturally introduces queerness into an otherwise very straight world.

When Kathleen is introduced to us, waiting tables at a Scarlet club, the indication that she is trans is so subtle I completely missed it the first time through:

Rosalind used to tell her that someone was going to snatch such a precious stone if she wore it so obviously, but Kathleen liked it there. If people were to stare at her throat, she always said she would rather it be because of the pendant than the bump of her Adam’s apple underneath.

Kathleen is never misgendered by any character, and her cousin and sister always come to her staunch defence if anyone even looks like they might insult her for being trans. But unfortunately her trans identity has not always been valid or easy. When her father finally accepts that she is trans it is only under very specific circumstances that he allows her to present as woman, and she must take on someone else’s identity, not the one she had chosen for herself. I think it can be difficult with queer characters to walk the line between overused and upsetting tropes (such as the bury your gays trope used in a lot of media, especially for lesbian characters) and acting as though their queer identity would be fully accepted, especially in a historical setting (there are absolutely settings where discrimination does not have to exist though). While Kathleen is given a tragic backstory she is also given important roles within the story by her cousin, has her own agency, and in the present text is never looked down on for her trans identity.

We also get gay representation in the form of Roma’s best friends, Benedikt and Marshall. Their relationship is very much a slow burn, and while we don’t get to see them admit their feelings for each other in this book, their POV chapters make it very clear how they feel about one another. They are extremely close and live together, but both are afraid of ruining their friendship and of the repercussions they would face from the leaders of the White Flowers if they were to come out.

Another great aspect of this adaptation is the historical setting of 1920s Shanghai. Not only do we get the glitz and glamour of the American flapper age through Juliette and her fantastic dresses and styled hair, but it is set against the very real colonisation that took place in China during this time after their loss in the Opium Wars. Juliette often makes remarks about foreigners taking parts of the city for themselves, and her family is constantly scrambling to make agreements with the Nationalists so they can still maintain a semblance of their power. Communism is spreading through the workers of the city, and historically there were thousands of strikes across Shanghai in 1926 due to the terrible wages and working conditions. The Scarlet gang is also loosely based around the Green gang, a secret society and criminal organisation prominent in the mid 20th century, and while there was no equivalent of the White Flowers, Shanghai was a free port and many Russians ended up there after fleeing from the civil war. I personally love a historical backdrop in any novel, and having this very real pressure of foreigners, Nationalists and Communists all fighting for the city is an integral part of the story.

Overall, this is a great book and I would really recommend it if you enjoy modern Shakespeare, the enemies to lovers trope, queer fiction, murder mysteries, monster hunting, and historical backdrops.

Interested in reading this? These Violent Delights is in our published collections and can be used on site in our reading room.

References:

Gong, C. 2020. These Violent Delights. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Zhang, S. 2020. ‘Chloe Gong is 21, she’s from the North Shore, and she just wrote a US bestseller’ The Spinoff. 24 December 2020. Accessed 2 September 2022. https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/04-12-2020/chloe-gong-is-21-shes-from-the-north-shore-and-she-just-wrote-a-us-bestseller

Stirring up the stacks #10: celebrity Sister O’Regan’s carrot salad

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Jen Anderson, Collections Assistant – Publications

People who work with heritage material often find themselves compelled to demonstrate its relevance to contemporary society. Some connections are obvious, and some require a little more lateral thinking. Initially I intended to justify this carrot-themed post via the Easter bunny, but having tasted the results of my carrot salad attempt, I realise that it more readily fits Lenten themes of mortification and repentance.

The recipe I tried comes from : Celebrities’ choice cook book : a unique collection of recipes from N.Z. celebrities / [compiled by the Canterbury/West Coast Region of the N.Z. Red Cross Society].

Vegetables, fruit, textiles and earthenware: the enticing cover of
‘Celebrities’ choice cook book : a unique collection of recipes from N.Z. celebrities’.

This book was published in 1991, but being a compilation of tried-and-true favourite recipes, it is a veritable time capsule from the pantheon of NZ’s illustrious. Ever wanted to try Geoffrey Palmer’s chili con carne? How about Judith Kirk’s fish bake? I was tempted by The Wizard’s microwave chocolate self-saucing pudding, but in the end there was only one possible recipe.

Deep breath.

Carrot salad.

Now, I’ve always had a troubled relationship with cooked carrots.  This is the legacy of childhood memories of carrot disks in casserole, the brimming-with-flavour carrots and white sauce, and – horror of horrors – mashed carrot and parsnip [a.k.a. rainbow vegetable]. Normally a carrot salad would bypass the cooking, but this recipe is a little different. It starts out reasonably; carrots, green pepper, onion, salt. It is in the second column of ingredients that you really start questioning the life choices that led you to this point.

1kg carrots

1 green pepper

1 onion

1 (450g) tin tomato soup

1 cup sugar

½ cup cooking oil

½ cup vinegar

Pepper and salt

 

Instructions follow:

Cut carrots in rings and cook.

Chop the green pepper and onion and cook in tomato soup, sugar, oil and vinegar.

When cooked mix in the cooked carrots.

 

The recipe for the inimitable carrot salad

I’m not much of a chef, but looking at the recipe you’d think it wasn’t complex. What could possibly go wrong? I don’t know what I did, but my creation would not elicit the rapturous community response received by the author, Sister Pauline M. O’Regan.

“This salad is a great favourite of our Community, and one or other of us invariably brings it to pot-luck meals and barbeques in summer. People always ask for the recipe. It’s a great feeling.”

I trust Sister Pauline O’Regan implicitly. She sounds like an extraordinary person who did a lot of good for her communities while authoring some very well -regarded books. Going by this photograph on Te Ara, she also knew how to host a successful casual outdoor gathering. Surely the problem was not the recipe, but my execution.

Look at what I made. Empty your mind and just look at it.

The pièce de résistance

I tried some fancy plating, but it was irredeemable.

The salad, plated. Enough said.

I was left with a catering sized supply of cooked carrot salad which, under COVID restrictions, could not be shared with my delightful colleagues.

The thick layer of oil wasn’t even the worst of it. Nor was the tooth-aching amount of sugar. No, it was the sheer ratio of dressing to carrot. Believe me, I boiled 450 g of tomato soup and vinegar mix ferociously in an attempt to reduce it. The kitchen was filled with a vinegar-tinged miasma. The capsicum had lost structural integrity and the onion was slimy yet the mixture defied attempts at evaporation. Eventually I gave up and added the carrot (cooked al dente, although I know the original 70s version would have been for 30 minutes or until done).

The sound when I stirred it haunts me to this day.  I don’t know how to describe it. Loose wallpaper paste? Creamed corn with clumps? Whatever it was, it was eldritch. This looked and smelled like something that, if consumed, should be done so in private mortification while crying. Dear reader, I tried a tentative forkfull and was hit by sugary carrot overlaid with vinegar and an oily finish. It was Not Nice.

In a Hail Mary I tried following the recipe recommendation: “This salad is best prepared the day before use and kept in the fridge (it will keep in the fridge for several days).” The flavour may have infused overnight, but it certainly didn’t improve. Perhaps it is best described as entrenching. I left the salad in the fridge for several days and I can verify that it is a very low theft risk because no-one else in the household touched it.

I don’t doubt that this recipe can be executed well. I’ve talked with people who remember it fondly from their BBQ and salad days. Tell me, dear readers, how did I mess it up so catastrophically? Can someone explain how to cook this properly? Maybe a 450g tin of soup is inclusive of tin weight, so I measured out too much? Should I have chosen a better vinegar? Was the pepper and salt quantity lacking? Does anyone have any advice for attempt #2, the one where I make colleagues eat and review it? Tell me about your success stories. Or do you have a more entry-level carrot salad recipe to suggest?

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #9: two for the price of one! Macaroni soup and ginger pudding

Stirring up the stacks #8: Xmas Cake Recipe Recommended by “Buckhams”

Stirring up the stacks #7: Virginia pudding

Stirring up the stacks #6: Pumpkin pie

Stirring up the stacks #5: Sauerkraut roll

Stirring up the stacks #4: A “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Book review: Self-Portrait by Marti Friedlander with Hugo Manson

Sunday, April 10th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post researched and written by Eilish McHugh-Smith, Collections Assistant – Publications

Welcome back to the Book Review Corner of the Hocken Blog! Today we delve into the world of photography with a review of Self-Portrait by Marti Friedlander in conjunction with Hugo Manson. 

The first thing that attracted me to Self-Portrait was its physicality. A beautifully bound hard back, with high-quality leaves containing vivid imagery and an easy on the eye font, all wrapped up in a simple yet alluring dust jacket. Self-Portrait would not be out of place on a coffee table, yet it is a book of substance, that one could easily get lost in for hours on end. It will come as no surprise that this book was shortlisted for the PANZ Book Design Awards HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover in 2014. [1]

A biography of the highly acclaimed New Zealand documentary photographer, Marti Friedlander, Self-Portrait is framed around numerous self-selected images, with an interview by Hugo Manson helping form the text. However, the interview has been cleverly framed to feel as though Marti is conversationally telling her story. Without the acknowledgement of Hugo in the afterword, one could easily be mistaken for thinking Self-Portrait is a solo venture.  

Self-Portrait begins with Marti detailing the childhood and young adulthood which led her to photography. Born to Jewish refugees in London and ending up in orphanages from the age of three, it is incredible to believe that the sickly child who at eleven years old weighed only three stone (19 kg) and stood only three foot (91 cm) tall, went on to become one the greats of New Zealand photography. Throughout this section Marti weaves images of her own childhood and those she has taken of other children, with commentary of her early years and childhood more generally. She also addresses the influence and impact that being Jewish has had on her life and identity. If not for someone suggesting she study photography during an interview for a scholarship to the Bloomsbury Technical School for Women, Marti would never have become a photographer, as she initially wanted to pursue a career in dress designing.  

Fast forward through another scholarship to further her studies at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and beginning her career developing images for photographers Douglas Glass and Gordon Crocker, Marti fell in love with her husband Gerrard Friedlander, a Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany with his family and settled in New Zealand. After travelling through Europe together they settled in Auckland, where Gerrard worked as a dentist, and Marti assisted as a dental nurse, before returning to photography. 

Subsequently, Marti explores different projects, themes and events that shaped her career through her photographs. Each chapter is focused around a core area: “Other Couples,” “New Zealand,” “Parihaka,” “Moko,” “Politics and Personalities,” “Writers and Artists” and “Protest.” Beautiful black and white images of kuia with their moko kauae, images of her friends and some familiar faces like John Key and Rita Angus, along with some iconic New Zealand images grace the pages. Marti analyses some of the visual elements of each image but provides context about the subject, situation and her perception of it that cannot be seen within the photograph. Against the backdrop of Marti’s life and through her insight, readers view the images in a new light, with far greater consideration for the finer details, the craft that has gone into creating such expressive and meaningful images and the fresh perspective Marti bought to her work as someone seeing New Zealand for the first time. 

The book concludes with Marti reflecting on her life and old age, providing wisdom and advice to live by. Most poignantly she emphasises the need to live in the moment:   

When you begin it [life or a new adventure], you have no idea the direction it will take. You can’t imagine the things that might occur during the course of it. And it’s better that you can’t. [2]    

Overall, Self-Portrait is a versatile book capable of engaging a wide audience; this book is as much about people, relationships, interactions and life as it is photography. It is an easy, yet substantive read that would pair perfectly with a nice cup of coffee and a seat in a sunny spot on a Sunday morning.  

Self-Portrait is available to read in library here at the Hocken Collections and for take home use at many public libraries throughout New Zealand. For anyone wanting to view more photography by Marti Friedlander or learn more about her, The Hocken Collections holds several of her works and publications containing her works, including:  

From our Published Collection: (links supplied will take you to the catalogue entry) 

Maurice Shadbolt, The Shell guide to New Zealand, revised edition (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1973). [Specifically see pages 54, 55, 63, 77, 8-, 101, 102, 144, 190, 222, 232, 240, 279 and 305 for Marti’s images.] 

Leonard Bell, Marti Friedlander, (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2009).  

Michael King and Marti Friedlander, Moko: Māori tattooing in the 20th century(Wellington: Alister Taylor, 1972).  [Further editions of this were published in 1992 and 2008 by David Bateman publishing, Auckland]. 

Marti Friedlander and James McNeish, Larks in paradise: New Zealand portraits(Auckland: Collins, 1974). 

Marti Friedlander, and Jim and Mary Barr,  Contemporary New Zealand Painters(Martinborough, New Zealand; A Taylor, 1980).

Dick Scott and Marti Friedlander, Pioneers of New Zealand wine(Auckland: Reed, 2002).  

From our Archives and Photographs Collections: (links supplied will take you to the catalogue entry) 

Friedlander, Marti : Two prints (1979-2001). Two gold-toned gelatine silver prints of Ralph Hotere. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, P2010-013. 

‘Jim Allen Torso brass and bronze…photo by Marty Friedlander’ (1959). Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-002/475/054.

‘John Kingston, standing figure…photo by Marty Friendlander’ (1958). Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-002/475/047.

‘M[aurice] Gee, [photo by M[arty] Friedlander’ (n.d.). Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-002/475/050.

Friedlander, Marti : Portrait of Gordon H. Brown. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, P2017-028. 

Te Papa Tongarewa has also digitised numerous photographs by Marti Friedlander, including those taken for Moko: Māori Tattooing in the 20th Century. They are available to view through their Collections Online website here.

 

References

[1] ‘HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover 2014 Highly Commended’, PANZ Book Design Awards; www.bookdesignawards.co.nz/, accessed 7 April 2022. 

[2] Friedlander, Marti, with Hugo Manson, Self-portrait, (Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press, 2013), pp.250. 

 

 

 

Book Review Corner #1: Two for the price of one with Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post written by General Assistant, Gini Jory

Welcome to a new segment for the Hocken blog, where our staff review books we hold in our collections. Whether these be novels, poetry, non-fiction, books helpful for research or genealogy- hopefully we will cover it all in our new Book Review Corner!

Today we start with a series fairly new to the collection- the first two books of the Locked Tomb series by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir. Gideon the Ninth (2019) and Harrow the Ninth (2020) are Muir’s first novels, and have both been met with critical acclaim- Gideon having won the 2020 Locus award for best first novel and the 2020 Crawford award, as well as being nominated for the Nebula award for best novel and the Hugo award for best novel. Harrow is a finalist for the 2021 Hugo award this year.

 

I read these two books over the most recent lockdown, and they have quickly become some of my favourites. I had read Gideon the Ninth previously- as soon as I saw the review tagged on the front cover in the bookstore “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” I had to buy it- and I was super excited to read the sequel. If you enjoy science fiction, fantasy, horror, queer fiction, and elegant prose peppered with ancient memes, then these might be next on your TBR list.

So, what is it all about?

 

 

“Teacher said the facility was chocka with ghosts and you might die?”

“Correct.”

“Surprise, my tenebrous overlord!” said Gideon. “Ghosts and you might die is my middle name.”

 

 

 

 

Gideon the Ninth takes place in a far off (and possibly our dark future) universe ruled with the magical energy of necromancy. Thousands of years ago the new God (the King Undying, the Prince of Death!) resurrected the universe, which now consists of nine houses, each with different necromantic specialties. Here we find Gideon Nav of the Ninth House (is it Pluto? I like to think so), who is planning her escape- again. The Ninth House is different from the others, as its sole purpose is to protect the locked tomb that lies at its centre, housing an ancient and powerful enemy of God. But around this tomb has grown a sort of cult of worship, and the Ninth House is one of nuns and servants devoted to the locked tomb. There are hardly any actual people left on the Ninth, with the majority of their population being made from necromantic skeletons- of those passed and the newly regenerated. It is from this dark underground society Gideon hopes to escape to join the Cohort, the deep space army of this galaxy. But her plans are foiled by the Reverend Daughter Harrowhark Nonagesimus, the best necromancer of the Ninth, with the ability to grow entire skeletons out of the smallest bone fragments.

It turns out that God has put out the call for all the houses to send their best necromancers, along with their cavaliers (a champion fighter) to undertake the mission of becoming new Lyctors, who are basically undying warrior saints, the right hand men and women of god. It’s a pretty big deal- there haven’t been new Lyctors since the original eight created when the universe was first resurrected. Harrowhark is set on going (for mysterious reasons I won’t spoil here) but she needs a cavalier and unfortunately, Gideon is the best swordsman she has. It’s unfortunate, because these girls have basically sworn to hate each other for all eternity and have been fighting since their infancy. Nevertheless, Harrowhark is all set to offer Gideon the one thing she wants- freedom- if she will answer the call and go to the First House with her to undertake this challenge. And if you didn’t know yet, that’s not how this story is going to turn out.

When they arrive at Canaan House they are plunged into a series of tests, mysteries, and monsters. With an ensemble of untrustworthy characters, Harrowhark and Gideon must learn to trust each other and work together to uncover the secret to Lyctorhood, and to survive whatever is murdering their fellow necromancers in the ancient laboratories below Canaan House. There’s sword fighting, goth skull makeup, lots of bones, a fair amount of sass and sarcasm and an extremely good murder-mystery all wrapped up in one spooky and very cool magic system.

Gideon the Ninth is unlike anything I’ve read before- it’s dark, funny, high fantasy prose, low brow culture, all at the same time. The necromantic magic system is mildly gruesome and extremely intriguing, and is explained throughout the different tests that take place through the book- Gideon is a big beefcake with only a basic understanding of necromancy, so we learn as Harrow painstakingly explains it to her. Gideon and Harrow are excellent complex characters, extremely relatable in their own ways. They explore their own trauma and grief, and I found the way they handled these, while very different, extremely realistic and uncomfortably relatable. This isn’t a happy queer romance, and the way Muir writes this tragedy wrenches your heartstrings all the way through. She somehow perfectly balances the dark gothic themes with Gideon’s sassy over-it jokes-a-plenty thoughts and narration, making for an altogether different style that I think will sit well with anyone that enjoys a blending of the modern and the classic (in reference and in humour).

 

“I could protect you, if you’d only ask me to,” said Ianthe the First.

A tepid trickle of sweat ran down your ribs.

“I would rather have my tendons peeled from my body, one by one, and flossed to shreds over my broken bones,” you said.

“I would rather be flayed alive and wrapped in salt. I would rather have my own digestive acid dripped into my eyes.”

“So what I’m hearing is … maybe,” said Ianthe. “Help me out here. Don’t be coy.”

 

 

 

Harrow the Ninth is a completely different beast all together. Taking place not long after Gideon finishes, we have a Harrow-centric story as she starts her journey to lyctordom. But something is wrong. This is not the Harrowhark we know- she is, as she freely admits, insane. Something went wrong when she completed her transition to lyctor, and Harrow the first (as all Lyctors are of the first house) is not complete. But she must still train and travel with God himself and the few remaining original Lyctors because the universe is at stake. A resurrection beast (the soul of a dead planet) is coming to seek revenge on those who killed it (God) and it will consume any planet in its wake to absorb its energy and make itself more powerful. If they do not stop it, it will eventually consume all nine houses. Harrow is absolutely not up to this task. Not only can she not magically heal as other lyctors can, she has retained no knowledge of the fighting skills of her cavalier. And more concerning for us, dear readers, is this: Harrow has no memory of Gideon, and believes her cavalier was another ninth named Ortus Nigenad. Confused yet? So was I! But don’t worry, it all makes sense at the end.

This book was definitely a bit more jarring of a read for me. Half of it is told in second person, which I always find more difficult to get into. I think this is definitely done with intent though- it seems to be either a Harrow who is so traumatised and disassociated after her lyctorial transformation that she cannot relate to herself so personally, or an absent Gideon narrating Harrow’s actions for her (I’ve seen solid arguments for both, though I originally read it as Gideon narrating to Harrow). The other half of the book is a third person alternative-universe retelling of the events of Gideon at Canaan House, with Ortus as an insane Harrow’s cavalier, a different kind of monster hunting them that they are told about from the get-go, and characters dying in the opposite order to the actual events of the first book. These two styles and two timelines- the current and the AU past- are interfiled throughout the book, leading to a culmination and explanation of the alternative timelines existence during the final confrontation with the resurrection beast.

This book has a very different tone to the first as well- without Gideon’s sarcastic inner-monologue and cringey jokes, everything is a bit more solemn. While Harrow can be funny, its more because she’s being rude than actually cracking a joke. To alleviate what at times could otherwise be a depressing story with its heavy themes of trauma, grief, and mental illness, Muir has brought in a lot more cultural references made by other characters- especially the other lyctors who have ~ancient cultural knowledge~. That’s right, it’s meme time. These references have convinced me that this is a future universe of our own timeline, and this is what has survived of our pre-resurrection culture. Like quoting Latin or traditional proverbs today, in the future let them quote memes.

She references Shakespeare as well though, but if you were on the internet in the late 2000s/early 2010s (2012 tumblr, anyone?) then this specific humour might just tickle you. I absolutely hated myself for knowing some of these references. I did start to tally how many I got as I came across them but I definitely missed some; here is a handy summary  for those interested (spoilers abound!)- it counts around 40, which is a meme or other reference approximately every 12 pages. Beautiful.

Overall, Harrow the Ninth was definitely a much more confusing read than Gideon. It’s the kind of book that sucks you in while you’re reading, but when you take a break you have to ask yourself if you actually know what is happening. The ending is still confusing me. It’s great getting to see a more vulnerable and even naïve side to Harrow in this one, and to get an exploration of mental illness in science fiction/fantasy feels pretty fresh. If you’re not a fan of second person narration, this might not be the book for you, but if you enjoy solving a mystery with very little to go on in the way of clues, you’ll probably love it. And not to worry, there’s still plenty of bones, sword fighting, and flirting.

Even though Harrow the Ninth was a bit of a confusing read, I still loved both of these books and would absolutely recommend them to anyone who enjoys science fiction and fantasy. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series- it was originally a trilogy but will now have a fourth book, announced earlier this year. Nona the Ninth will precede the previously announced final volume Alecto the Ninth, and is set to be published in 2022- not too long a wait if you start reading soon! I can’t wait to see what happens next for Harrow and Gideon, and I hope you enjoy their story too, if you come along for the ride.

References:

Muir, Tamsyn. 2019. Gideon the Ninth. New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

Muir, Tamsyn. 2020. Harrow the Ninth. New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

Alternative sources for alternative voices

Monday, June 28th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post researched and written by General Assistant Gini Jory

Radical writers are often thought of as a cornerstone of New Zealand literature. Whether it be poetry, short stories, novels, commentaries or screenplays, these writers have cried out against the status quo, speaking out on issues such as racism, social injustice and numerous other political concerns. These thoughts have shaped New Zealand literature and in turn have produced a wealth of writers armed with radical prose and ideas.

James K. Baxter, c.1965-1972. Michael de Hamel photograph, Box-005-002, Te Uare Taoka o Hākena – Hocken Collections, University of Otago.

One of the most prominent of these writers is James Keir Baxter (1926-1972) who was born into a family with established radical leanings. His father was Archibald Baxter (1881-1970), a socialist, pacifist, conscientious objector during WWI and the author of We will not cease, the memoir of his brutal experiences of forced conscription and imprisonment. The Hocken holds papers for both James K. Baxter (ARC-0027) and the Baxter family (ARC-0351) in the archives collection. Born in Dunedin, Baxter spent his formative years here, attending the University of Otago and returning later as a Robert Burns fellow in 1966. His published works cover a huge range with poetry, literary criticism and social commentaries at the forefront. He was also well known for his radical lifestyle; most notably the period in later life when he moved to Jerusalem/Hiruhārama, a Māori settlement on the Whanganui River, leaving behind his University position and job.

When thinking about potential information the Hocken might have on Baxter, you would be safe in the assumption we carry a large amount of his published works, along with the previously mentioned archival collections. However, given the radical and alternative nature of Baxter’s life and writing, this post will cover some of the more alternative, and perhaps less obvious items we carry in our collections that are equally as useful for research.

If you’re interested in taking a more active (literally!) research approach, a great place to start would be with Writers Dunedin: Three Literary Walks. Along with short biographies of many Dunedin writers, this item provides a map of three walks you can take around Dunedin, highlighting places of significance in the literary history of Dunedin and in the lives of these writers. This includes places like the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon, the Globe Theatre, the University clock tower building, as well as lesser-known places including pubs frequented by writers, schools, houses, bookshops and publishing firms. All three walks include places of significance in the life of Baxter.

Map kindly provided with permission from Southern Heritage Trust. Map design by Allan Kynaston. Barsby, John & Frame, Barbara Joan. Writer’s Dunedin: Three Literary Walks. Dunedin: Southern Heritage Trust. 2012

This publication is a companion to another item, found in our AV collection: Hear our Writers: an audio compilation of eleven Dunedin Writers. This sound recording comprises writers reading aloud their own poetry, as well as having it read by others. James K. Baxter is among these authors, and you can listen to him read his poem The Fallen House, a reflection of his early life in Brighton which he has referred to as his “lost Eden”. It is a very immersive experience to hear a poem spoken by the person who wrote it over 50 years ago, and to understand how he meant it to be heard with his own specific inflection and voice, rather than how we as readers may imagine it in our heads. This item also goes to show just how many alternative mediums there can be, and something written will not only appear in our collection as a published book or collection. We hold several other recordings relating to Baxter, further proving you can find information in the most unexpected places.

Baxter, James Keir. ‘A small ode to mixed flatting.’ Published in Falus: the official organ of the Beardies and Weirdies Industrial Union of Workers. Dunedin. 1967. (The poem continues over page.)

Another slightly different item we hold is an alternative student publication from Otago University, entitled Falus: the official organ of the Beardies and Weirdies Industrial Union of Workers. It was in this that A small ode to mixed flatting was originally published in 1967. This was in response to a decision made by the University to forbid mixed flatting, something that these days is seen as completely normal and out of scope of the University’s control.  Critic was not interested in the story of the student expelled over this issue, so he took it to Falus instead. They approached Baxter and he agreed on the spot, providing them with A small ode to mixed flatting. This piece is an excellent example of Baxter’s alternative outlook and the importance of social activism and criticism in his life. As the Burns fellow at the time of this event, he was not a student directly affected by this decision (he was technically an employee of the University) however, he still took this opportunity to criticise the University over what many students saw as an infringement on their rights.

We have several issues of Falus, ranging from 1965-1968, featuring many poems and political letters, with a lot of satirical content (though not all stand the test of time!). Baxter has also made other contributions to this publication, including a letter about the capping show of 1967. If you are interested in student activism or political poetry, this magazine is a wealth of information and entertainment.

We hold other items related to this mixed flatting event, including this neat pamphlet advertising an organised sleep in, which can be found in our Ephemera collection. ​

Live-in. [1960s] From the Ephemera Collection, Te Uare Taoka o Hākena – Hocken Collections, University of Otago.

We have a few items relating to Baxter on display in our current exhibition, Drift– a new exhibition featuring recent Hocken art acquisitions and selected collection items. These include a photograph of Baxter rolling a cigarette taken by New Zealand art historian, writer and photographer Gordon Brown (b.1931), and a papier mâché ‘Head in a bottle’ made by Baxter in 1951/52 and deposited by his son John Baxter in 2018.  Upon depositing, John wrote:

Please find enclosed the papier mâché head made by James K. Baxter as a young student at Wellington Teachers’ College. It was then a part of his desk furniture for many years, becoming a part of the internal landscape of my mother’s house after his death.

The head was much admired by my mother’s close friend the writer Janet Frame and was left to her in my mother’s will.

Sadly Janet predeceased Jacquie so the piece has come down to me as the remaining child.

I worry about its condition and would be happier if it were in a place where it could be preserved, […]

Drift is open until Saturday 17 July (Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm), so please come visit if you are interested in viewing these items in the exhibition.

When researching a famous local writer, there are plenty of obvious places to look and sources to use. Hopefully this post has highlighted some alternative sources on this topic, as well as demonstrating how the many different collections we house can be of use for all kinds of research- you might find the perfect resource in the most unexpected place!

 

References

James K. Baxter, c.1965-1972.  Michael de Hamel photograph, Box-005-002, Te Uare Taoka o Hākena – Hocken Collections, University of Otago.

Live-in. [1960s] From the Ephemera Collection, Te Uare Taoka o Hākena – Hocken Collections, University of Otago.

Baxter, James Keir. Literary Papers. ARC-0027. Hocken Collections, Dunedin.

Baxter Family Papers. ARC-0351. Hocken Collections, Dunedin.

Baxter, Archibald. We will not cease. London: Gollancz. 1939.

Barsby, John & Frame, Barbara Joan. Writer’s Dunedin: Three Literary Walks. Dunedin: Southern Heritage Trust. 2012.

Southern Heritage Trust. Hear our Writers: an audio compilation of eleven Dunedin Writers. (Sound recording) Dunedin: Southern Heritage Trust. 2009.

Baxter, James Keir. ‘A small ode to mixed flatting.’ Published in Falus: the official organ of the Beardies and Weirdies Industrial Union of Workers. Dunedin. 1967.

Baxter, James Keir. Head in a bottle, 1951 or 1952. Papier mâché, paint, repurposed bottle. Wellington, New Zealand. Deposited by John Baxter, 2018.

 

Murder on the Maungatapu

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 | Hocken Collections | 6 Comments

Post researched and written by Jennie Henderson, Hocken Collections Assistant  – Publications

In 1866, a gang of four goldfield criminals murdered five men (and their horse) on the Maungatapu track near Nelson. The subsequent search for the bodies, trial, and execution of some of the murderers seized the attention of the nation. Newspapers were full of the events for weeks and even years afterwards.

At the Hocken Collections, tucked away in the middle of a bound volume of pamphlets, are three letters from the accused to legal officials in the trial, which provide an enticing window into the case…

But first, some background:

The accused men were labelled ‘The Burgess Gang’: Richard Burgess, Joseph Sullivan, Philip Levy, and Thomas Kelly.

Photos of Burgess, Levy, Kelly, and Sullivan taken during the trial (from “A full history of the Maungatapu murders: including a narrative of the events preceding the murders, confessions of Sullivan & Burgess, a corrected report of the trial, detailed particulars of the execution of Burgess, Kelly and Levy, and lives of the murderers, with portraits, and plans and sections of the road”. Nelson: 1866).

Burgess and Kelly were both transported convicts, who had lived a life of crime on the Australian goldfields and been in and out of gaol there, until following the gold to Otago in 1862.  They served three years in gaol in Dunedin for theft and attempted murder, before travelling to the West Coast and forming a new gang there with Sullivan and a former acquaintance, Levy.[1]

In the course of numerous robberies and assaults on the West Coast goldfields, Levy heard talk of a party of businessmen planning to travel from Canvastown to Nelson to deposit their earnings in the bank.  Excited by the rumour that the businessmen would be carrying up to £1000, the gang made a plan to rob them.

On June 12, 1866, they positioned themselves on the track, by what would later become known as Murders Rock.  A flax grower in his fifties, James Battle, travelling along the track, was stopped by the gang and initially they let him pass. They later decided that he may be able to identify them, and some of the gang chased him down and killed him, robbing him of his wages of £3.17s.[2]

The attack on and murder of James Battle (as reproduced in Hill, Richard, Policing the Colonial Frontier: the theory and practice of coercive social and racial control in New Zealand, 1767-1867. Wellington: Historical Publications Branch Dept of Internal Affairs, 1986).

On June 13, the party of four businessmen – George Dudley, James de Pontius, Felix Mathieu, and John Kempthorne, and their horse – named Old Farmer – were held up, robbed, and murdered by the Burgess Gang.[3]  They burned the men’s’ clothes and other evidence, and hid three of the bodies, leaving the fourth in a manner intended to suggest he was the culprit, if the bodies were ever found.  The gang then returned to Nelson, to spend their ill-gotten gains of just over £16 each, nowhere near the amount that they had hoped for.[4]

Caption: Burgess shoots Kempthorne on Maungatapu Mountain (as reproduced in Byron, Ken. ‘Guilty wretch that I am’: echoes of Australian Bushrangers from the death row memoirs of Richard Burgess. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1984).

In Nelson, a friend of the businessmen was waiting for their arrival in order to take Old Farmer back to Canvastown.  When the party did not arrive, he raised the alarm.  Police began to investigate the matter on June 18.  Suspicion fell quickly on the Burgess Gang, who had been seen by a number of witnesses heading in the direction of the Maungatapu track, and had been spending money in Nelson over the last few days.  The four men were arrested on June 18 and 19.  The citizens of Nelson were horrified by the apparent crime, and a large search party was formed, finding Old Farmer’s body and a gun on June 20.

While the search continued in the difficult terrain, Sullivan took advantage of an offer from the Governor of a pardon to any accomplice to the murders who gave information resulting in a conviction of the murderer(s).[5] He gave a full confession, implicating his three partners in crime (but not himself), and directing police to the bodies, which were found on June 29.  Sullivan also later disclosed to the police the location of James Battle’s body, as his disappearance had gone unreported.

The victims were all buried together in a mass grave at Wakapuaka Cemetery, their bodies escorted by a massive procession of the citizens of Nelson.[6]  A monument to the victims was erected after a public collection, and its inscription conveys a strong sense of the outrage of the local people at these events:

This monument was erected by public subscription in memory of five late residents of the province of Marlborough who are interred here. They were waylaid, robbed, and barbarously murdered by a gang of four bushrangers, on the Maungatapu Mountain, in this province, June 12 and 13 1866 / Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath for it is written. Vengeance is mine: I will repay saith the Lord. Romans XII 19.[7]

While in gaol awaiting trial, Burgess wrote a now infamous confession/autobiography that contradicted Sullivan’s confession, and claimed that Levy and Kelly were innocent of the actual murders. Burgess’ confession is long and written in an attractive literary style, and is considered a classic of crime writing.[8]

The trial ran from September 12-18.  Despite Burgess’ counter-confession, Burgess, Levy, and Kelly were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  They were executed at a specially-constructed gallows on October 5.  Levy went to his death protesting his innocence.  Sullivan was tried for and found guilty of the murder of James Battle.  He was sentenced to death, which was later downgraded to life imprisonment. He was sent to Dunedin gaol for a time, and then released on the condition he left New Zealand.  After some time in England, he travelled to Australia where he was arrested by Australian authorities while trying to make contact with his wife and family. It seems he may have been relocated by the government, and then passed into legend somewhat with no confirmed sightings after this time.[9]

The pre-meditation and cold brutality of the murders, and especially the controversy of the competing confessions, seized the imagination and fired the indignation of the New Zealand public. Newspapers at the time were full of the story, following every twist and turn in the search and the trial.[10] A ‘grand moving diorama of the Maungatapu murders, occupying 2000 feet of canvas’ was touring the country by November 1866.[11] The local Nelson paper, the Examiner, printed a booklet covering the details of the case and the trial, and providing much desired detail about the chequered pasts of the accused.

An original 1866 copy of this booklet, with maps and photos, was bound with other pamphlets by Justice H.S. Chapman and gifted to the Hocken.[12] In the back of this pamphlet are secured three letters: one from Burgess to Mr Adams, a prosecutor; one from Sullivan to Mr Sharpe, a Nelson Court registrar; and one from Levy and Kelly to Sergeant-Major Shallcrass, a police officer who was involved with the case.

The letters highlight how important the finer details of the case were in determining whose account was correct: Burgess or Sullivan.

Nelson Gaol
Sept. 1th 1868, Saturday night
To Mr Adams,
Respected Sir,

I forgot to mention in my previous requests for your official aid and furtherance one item of importance, to the carrying out of justice to all concerned, so I have taken the liberty of again intruding myself on you, to see that my application to you is attended too, it is this. If you remember Sullivan stated, the balls we had with us, and some of which were drawn from the gun he threw away, were stolen from the Grey[?], no such thing, they were purchased. Now I wish that you Telegraph, the authorities at the Grey, and cause them to make inquiry at Mr Helier’s shooting gallery, next door the Star Hotel, whether he remembers the night of Friday, the first of June, selling five shillings worth of balls to anyone, on the same night, the ramrod was [?]. With this being sent through the Government it will be sufficient proof, without issuing subpoenas for their attendance, note the address Mr Eli Helier next the Star Hotel.

I remain your ever obliged and humble servant,

Richard Burgess.

*******************

Mr Sharpe

Sir

I would thank you if you would have a Summons served upon the Witness Harvey to attend in the case of James Battle.

For in Burgess’ confession he says that Kelly & Levey left us at the Bridge to proceed into Nelson Mr Galloway can prove that there men Harveys party where but a short distance ahead of us.

My statement is this that at the time Burgess & Levey where securing the man Battle there was a gun discharged and I went up the road and I heard the Report of another gun and then I observed three men upon the road near Franklyn’s Flat.

If I could see these men where was Kelly and Levey at this time for by the statement Burgess has made they left us at the Bridge and it appears that Harveys Party never seen them upon the road. Suppose they must have hid themselves upon this occasion as Burgess states they did on the following day.

If it is Convenient to would thank you for the Different Distances of the road that bears upon my case.

I am Sir your Most Obedient Servant

Joseph Thomas Sullivan

*******************

And Levy’s and Kelly’s attempts to be tried by Special Jury:

Nelson Gaol

To Mr Shallcrass, [Sergeant-Major]

Sir this if to inform you that it is Our wish, as we are going to be tried for Our innocent lives, that if the laws of Our Country allows us to be tried by a Special Jury, by making application that you will Please to grant Our request, and your humble servants will for Ever Pray.

Signed Thomas Kelly

Phillip Levy

Recd 30 Sept [JWA]

*******************

The 1866 pamphlet was revised and reprinted many times due to ongoing interest in the case.  The Hocken holds issues of The Maungatapu Mountain Murders from 1890 (a Hocken original), 1909, and 1924.

Also in 1866, the murders were the inspiration for a sermon delivered by the Bishop of Wellington on ‘Ahab’s crimes and the Maungatapu Murders, treated on the principles of the new school of morals and religion.’[13] The Bishop reflects on how he would deal with communities rife with criminal behaviours such as those on the West Coast, and what message the Gospel truly brings regarding criminality.

An interesting additional layer to the case, the Hocken holds a photocopy of ‘Practical phrenology: a lecture on the heads, casts of the heads, and characters of the Maungatapu murderers, Levy, Kelly, Sullivan, and Burgess’  by A.S. Hamilton; delivered in the Provincial Hall, Nelson, for the benefit of the Maungatapu Monument Fund, October 8, 1866.

A phrenologist, Hamilton, had met with the accused before their execution to interview them and take measurements of their heads. Casts were also made of their heads after the execution, despite Burgess’s request that his cast be taken before death in case his features were distorted by the hanging (as reported in the Nelson Examiner, 2 October, 1866). Hamilton’s lecture, of which the Hocken item is a transcript, was given three days after the men were executed, and was intended as a fundraiser for a memorial in the cemetery. Hamilton makes bold claims about the men and their characters based on his studies.

The basilar phrenometrical angle in Kelly, marked A, is forty-two degrees. This is greatly in excess of common murderers…Kelly’s angle is of the very worst murderer’s type…

…the middle basilar section, the seat of the organs of Destructiveness, Vitativeness, Secretiveness, and Acquisitiveness [is large]; hence the terrible power of this portion of the brain in influencing his conduct for evil…[14]

From Hamilton, A. S. Practical phrenology: a lecture on the heads, casts of the heads, and characters of the Maungatapu murderers, Levy, Kelly, Sullivan, and Burgess. Nelson: 1866).

Levy’s temperament is coarse, and the bones of his skull are thick…These measurements speak in plain language, and show the moral imbecility of the man; and a glance at the deficient development of his reasoning powers, and at the great size of his organs of secretiveness and acquisitiveness, combined with the small endowment of his benevolence and conscientiousness, will at once warrant the conclusion that, in bad hands, Levy would become a willing tool in the perpetration of the foulest deeds…[p.11] Levy, in my company in prison for more than an hour, tried hard to enlist my sympathy, by crying and protesting his innocence; and it was a terribly humiliating sight to witness the idiotic efforts he made to disguise his true character…[15]

More modern authors continue to be intrigued by these events, and the Hocken holds a number of interesting sources.

  • Clune, Frank. Murders on Maunga-tapu. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1959.

Clune wrote historical novels, travel books, and histories of scandalous events in early NZ and Australia. This work provides a “grim account of a callous crime committed on the New Zealand goldfields in 1866… [and] an unusual study of the mental make-up of the four lying brutal Londoners who were responsible for the crime…”.

  • Burton, David, ed. Confessions of Richard Burgess: the Maungatapu murders and other grisly crimes. Wellington: Reed, 1983.

Burton gives an account of the murders, as well as a transcript of Burgess’ famous confession.

  • Byron, Ken. ‘Guilty wretch that I am’: echoes of Australian Bushrangers from the death row memoirs of Richard Burgess. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1984.

Byron looks at Burgess’ confession in the context of the bushrangers and his criminal upbringing.

  • Hawes, Peter. Outlaws and Rogues. Auckland: Whitcoulls, 2003.

In this illustrated book for tweenagers, the Maungatapu murderers take their place beside other notorious rogues in history, such as Billy the Kid and Al Capone.

  • Martin, Wayne. Murder on the Maungatapu: a narrative history of the Burgess Gang and their greatest Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2016.

Martin re-examines the case with new eyes, using little-known primary sources, and suggests an alternative narrative.

  • Rosanowski, John. Treachery Road: a historical goldfields murder mystery. Christchurch: Cornwall, 2017.

Rosanowski approaches the case as a journalist in the 1890s reinvestigating the murders. He claims to have uncovered new information about Sullivan which suggests Kelly and Levy were innocent, as Burgess claimed.

Some of the Hocken Collections’ resources on the Maungatapu murders.

The fascination with this case has continued in other formats as well. In 1972, a radio play ‘Death at Murderers Rock’ was produced by the Overseas Programme Exchange Service.[16] In 2016, the Nelson Provincial Museum put on a two-part exhibition about the murders and the trial.[17] A play about the murders, by Nelson playwright Justin Eade, was performed in the Nelson/Marlborough area and later at the Arts Market in Wellington in 2016/2017.  In 2017, Burgess’ story was included in the ‘Black Sheep’ podcast.[18]

If you wish to view any of the books referenced above, or any of the Hocken Collections’ other fascinating resources, the staff here at 90 Anzac Avenue are more than happy to help.  Visit us between 10am and 5pm, Monday – Saturday. Please bring photo ID with you to register as a reader.


Footnotes:

[1] Burgess had earned something of a name for himself in Dunedin’s gaol: ‘Early in 1863, Burgess once or twice caused great danger in the Dunedin gaol. Once, he contrived to communicate with the notorious Garrett and others, so as to concert a breaking out; and he contrived to break through a thick stone wall and enter the adjoining cell.  On another occasion, he and Garrett each barricaded the door of his cell, and set the officers at defiance until the doors had been battered down. Those doors, and the others in the gaol, then opened inwards – a stupid arrangement, which was speedily altered. Burgess was flogged, and he bore his punishment with seeming indifference.’ Otago Daily Times (Dunedin, New Zealand), quoted in “A full history of the Maungatapu murders: including a narrative of the events preceding the murders, confessions of Sullivan & Burgess, a corrected report of the trial, detailed particulars of the execution of Burgess, Kelly and Levy, and lives of the murderers, with portraits, and plans and sections of the road” (Nelson: 1866), 15.

[2] Ken Byron, ‘Guilty wretch that I am’: echoes of Australian Bushrangers from the death row memoirs of Richard Burgess (South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1984), 98.

[3] The men were strangled, stabbed, and shot. For a comprehensive account of the attacks, see Wayne Martin, Murder on the Maungatapu: a narrative history of the Burgess Gang and their greatest crime (Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2016), 131.

[4] Martin, 132.

[5] For the poster stating the conditions of the offer of immunity, see Martin, xix.

[6] For a map of the cemetery, including the location of the monument, see http://nelson.govt.nz/services/facilities/cemeteries/cemeteries-in-nelson-2/wakapuaka-cemetery/

[7] From Wikipedia’s page on the Maungatapu murders: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maungatapu_murders#/media/File:Maungatapu_Monument_02.jpg

[8] Mark Twain described Burgess’ confession as: ‘…a remarkable paper. For brevity, succinctness, and concentration, it is perhaps without its peer in the literature of murder. There are no waste words in it; there is no obtrusion of matter not pertinent to the occasion, nor any departure from the dispassionate tone proper to a formal business statement—for that is what it is: a business statement of a murder, by the chief engineer of it, or superintendent, or foreman, or whatever one may prefer to call him.’ Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World (1897), ch.XXXIII.

[9] See Martin, 249-262.

[10] A quick search of Papers Past reveals dozens of articles about the investigation, the trial, and the execution, and the backgrounds of the criminals. Even in 1935, an obituary for Alfred Mills references that he was in Nelson at the time of the Maungatapu murders. Otago Daily Times, 10 October 1935, 9.

[11] Otago Daily Times, 2 November 1866, 1. Admission was 1s.

[12] “A full history of the Maungatapu murders” is bound with Chapman Pamphlets v.14, no.13.

[13] This pamphlet is bound in Hocken Pamphlets v.79.

[14] A.S. Hamilton, “Practical phrenology: a lecture on the heads, casts of the heads, and characters of the Maungatapu murderers, Levy, Kelly, Sullivan, and Burgess” (Nelson: 1866), 4.

[15] Hamilton, 10.

[16] https://www.ngataonga.org.nz/collections/catalogue/catalogue-item?record_id=179001

[17] The Nelson Provincial Museum holds a number of items related to these events, including the head casts of Burgess, Kelly, and Levy. http://www.nelsonmuseum.co.nz/

[18] http://www.radionz.co.nz/programmes/black-sheep/story/2018617776/outlaw-the-story-of-richard-burgess

 

Lel, Father Christmas, and ‘The Sun’s Babies’

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by David Murray, Archivist

One of the cutest Christmas messages in the Hocken Collections is found on a postcard in the papers of Dunedin poet and editor Charles Brasch.

The front of the postcard shows the picturesque St John’s Anglican Church, Waikouaiti. The message on the reverse reads:

Mr Father Christmas
D.I.C.
Dunedin.

Dec 3rd

Dear Farther Christmas.
please will you give me these things
the “Suns Babys” and a doll.
love from Lesley Brasch
adress is 99 London St.
Dunedin

Lesley Brasch, known in her family as ‘Lel’, was Charles’s younger sister. Their father was the lawyer Hyam Brasch, and their mother Helene (née Fels) was related to the Hallensteins, a prominent Jewish family associated with the New Zealand Clothing Company and other businesses.

Born in 1911, Lel lived with her parents and brother at ‘Bankton’. Originally the home of Rev. Thomas Burns, and later of Sir Robert Stout, its address was 99 London Street when the postcard was used. The property was later subdivided and other houses have since been built in front of it. Its address is now 4 Stoutgate.

Lesley with her brother Charles at ‘Manono’, London Street, the property of their grandparents, Willi and Sara Fels. Bankton was a little further up the street, on the opposite side. E.A. Phillips photographer. Ref: Hocken Collections MS-0996-012/100.

We don’t know what year Lel wrote her request, but it was when she was a little girl in the 1910s.  She addressed it to Father Christmas at the D.I.C., or to give it its complete mouthful of a name, the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Limited. Her own great-grandfather, Bendix Hallenstein, established the business some thirty years or so before.

The Dunedin department store was a logical place to send a message to the jolly red-suited man. From 1902 children could visit him every afternoon before Christmas, and in the 1910s the company advertised: ‘Father Christmas is at Home at the D.I.C.’. In 1917, the store advertised ’20 big busy departments full of Xmas gifts’, and a Toyland for Children. It invited parents to bring their children to see Father Christmas in his quaint old chimney corner. Admission was sixpence and children were given a present. Seventy years later children still visited the D.I.C. to see Santa. Its later attractions included Pixie Town, now on display at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. The D.I.C.’s Dunedin store closed in 1991, after the company was taken over by Arthur Barnett.

Advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 15 December 1917 p.2. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand: https://goo.gl/nCBBvo.

Lel asked Father Christmas for a popular and particularly beautiful children’s book, The Sun’s Babies by Edith Howes. Even at a young age the Braschs were supporting New Zealand writers! Born in London in 1872, Howes came to New Zealand with her family when still an infant, and became known as a teacher, writer, and educationalist. She lived in a variety of places around the country, including Ashburton, Wanganui, Makarewa, Gore, Wellington, and Christchurch. In later life she lived in Dunedin, where she died in 1954.

The Sun’s Babies, published in 1910, is set in a mythical fairy world. It includes stories and poems about plants, animals and fairies in the different seasons of the year, incorporating life lessons. The first of Howes’s children’s books, it met with both critical acclaim and popular success. Hocken holds three editions of the book, including Cassell & Co’s original 1910 edition and the 1913 edition shown here. The illustrations are by the English artist Frank Watkins (1863-1929).

Howes, Edith. The Sun’s Babies. London: Cassell and Company, 1913. Hocken Publications, Bliss YO How.s.

Illustration by Frank Watkins from The Sun’s Babies. The caption reads: ‘When she saw Tinyboy she hid her face shyly in her curls’.

Did Lesley get her book and doll? We don’t know but like to think so. Perhaps the answer awaits discovery in the Brasch papers,

There are thousands of postcards in the papers and they are less studied than many other parts of the collection. This particular card can be found in the item: ‘Envelope labelled “Loose postcards” including postcards from family and de Beer, Fels, Hallenstein and Brasch families’ (Charles Brasch papers, Hocken Archives, Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-012/521).

Merry Christmas from the Hocken Collections.

 

New Zealand Archaeology Week 2017

Monday, April 3rd, 2017 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post prepared by Jacinta Beckwith, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori 

Each of us is an epitome of the past, a compendium of evidence from which the labours of the comparative anatomist have reconstructed the wonderful story of human evolution. We are ourselves the past in the present.                                                           

H.D. Skinner, The Past and the Present

This year’s inaugural New Zealand Archaeology Week (1-7 April) offers an opportune moment to highlight some of the Hocken’s archaeology-related taonga. Examples include the Otago Anthropological Society Records (1960-1983), Anthropology Departmental Seminar flyers (most dating to 1997), and a wide variety of archaeological reports, notebooks, diaries, letters and photographs including papers of David Teviotdale, Peter Gathercole and Atholl Anderson. More recently, our collections have been enhanced by the ongoing contribution of local archaeologists such as Drs Jill Hamel and Peter Petchey who regularly submit their archaeological reports, for which we remain deeply grateful.

One of our largest collections relating to the world of archaeology and anthropology are the Papers of Henry Devenish Skinner (1886-1978). At 3.14 linear metres in size, this collection comprises folders full of handwritten research and lecture notes, letters, photographs, scrapbooks and newspaper clippings pertaining primarily to Skinner’s archaeological, anthropological and ethnological work with the Otago Museum and the University of Otago, and also to his school days and military service. It includes personal correspondence detailing the collection of Māori artefacts, letters with Elsdon Best, S. Percy Smith, Willi Fels, and other notable anthropologists and collectors. Skinner’s papers also include a significant series of subject files relating to not only Māori and Pacific archaeology but also to that of Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

H.D. Skinner is fondly remembered as the founding father of New Zealand Anthropology. He is particularly known for his development of the Otago Museum, for his pioneering work on the archaeology of the Māori and for his comparative studies of Polynesian archaeology and material culture. He was the first Lecturer of Anthropology in Australasia, appointed Lecturer in Ethnology at the University of Otago in 1919 (where he lectured until 1952). He was appointed assistant curator of the Otago Museum in 1919, later becoming Director of the Museum from 1937 until 1957. Skinner was also Librarian of the Hocken from 1919 until 1928. Much of the collection expansion in the Otago Museum, and the importance placed on the collection and display of Māori and Polynesian artefacts can be attributed to him. He also expanded the Hocken’s collections, most notably in New Zealand paintings and drawings.

Skinner’s research on the Moriori represents a milestone in the history of Polynesian ethnology as the first systematic account of material culture of a Polynesian people. He set new standards in description, classification and analysis, and he demonstrated how ethnological research could contribute to important historical conclusions. Professor Atholl Anderson, Honorary Fellow of Otago’s Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, describes Skinner’s analyses of Māori material culture as prescribing the method and objectives of the discipline for over 50 years and his teaching as inspirational for several generations of archaeologists, especially in southern New Zealand.

References:

Anderson, A. Henry Devenish Skinner, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Volume 4, 1998

Skinner, H.D. The Past and the Present – Popular Lecture, in Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS 1219/071

Wells, M. Cultural appreciation or inventing identity? H.D. Skinner & the Otago Museum. BA (Hons) thesis, Otago, 2014

ITEMS ON DISPLAY

HOCKEN FOYER

Anthropology Department Seminar flyers from the late nineties. Hocken Ephemera Collection

DISPLAY TABLE

  1. Skinner, H. D. 1923. The Morioris of Chatham Islands. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Hocken Published Collection
  2. Letters from Elsdon Best and S. Percy Smith to H.D. Skinner, and envelope addressed to Corporal H.D. Skinner containing further letters and clippings relating to Moriori in ‘Letters, extracts, notes, etc. relating to Morioris’, Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/169
  3. Letter from J Renwick (1925) to H.D. Skinner in ‘Technology and Art of the [Moriori of the Chathams]’, Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/160
  4. Photos of Chatham Island artefacts in ‘Moriori Photos’ (n.d.), Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/168. Stone patu, bone fishhooks, blubber cutter, stone adzes and postcard map of Chatham Islands.
  5. Syllabus of Evening Lectures on Ethnology 1919 & University of Otago Teaching of Anthropology (n.d.) in ‘Anthropology at Otago University’, Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/022

PLINTH

  1. Freeman, D. & W. R. Geddes, 1959. Anthropology of the South Seas: essays presented to H. D. Skinner. New Plymouth, N.Z.: T. Avery. Hocken Published Collection
  2. Dr Henry Devenish Skinner at the Otago Museum (1951). D. S. Marshall photograph, Hocken Photographs Collection, Box-030-013
  3. Dr Henry Devenish Skinner and others get aboard the ‘Ngahere’ for Chatham Islands (1924). The others are identified as Robin Sutcliffe Allan, John Marwick, George Howes, Maxwell Young and Dr Northcroft. Photographer unknown, Hocken Photographs Collection, Box-030-014

PLINTH

  1. The Dunedin Causeway – archaeological investigations at the Wall Street mall site, Dunedin, archaeological site 144/469 (2010). Petchey, Peter: Archaeological survey reports and related papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-3415/001
  2. Beyond the Swamp – The Archaeology of the Farmers Trading Company Site, Dunedin (2004). Petchey, Peter: Archaeological survey reports and related papers, Hocken Archives MS-2082
  3. A smithy and a biscuit factory in Moray Place, Dunedin… report to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (2004). Hamel, Jill, Dr: Archaeological reports, Hocken Archives MS-2073
  4. Otago Peninsula roading improvements – Macandrew Bay and Ohinetu sea walls, report to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (2010). Hamel, Jill, Dr: Archaeological reports, Hocken Archives MS-4174/001
  5. Album of photographs accompanying Otago Peninsula roading improvements – Macandrew Bay and Ohinetu sea walls report (2010). Hamel, Jill, Dr: Archaeological reports, Hocken Archives MS-4174/002

 

On the cover

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant – Reference

We’re always pleased to see images from our collections featuring on the cover of new books! Each year we put together a list of published items – from books to theses, blogs to journals, television series to exhibitions – which have made use of Hocken resources. Some of them relate to research carried out on our archives or publications, others have used our pictorial collections, and some have done both. So far we have tracked down over 200 items published in 2015 for our list, including 69 books. The variety of topics covered is remarkable, as demonstrated by the few examples featured here.

S15-533a MS_0975_234

MS-0975/234

The very handsome 4-volume set of James K. Baxter’s complete prose, edited by John Weir, involved lots of digging through Baxter’s archives, which are held here. The cover of the first volume features an amusing photo of Baxter with his coat on backwards in Cathedral Square, Christchurch in 1948, sourced from his archives. Another particularly handsome book that has drawn heavily on the Hocken Collections is John Wilson’s New Zealand mountaineering: a history in photographs. including many from our holdings of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s archives. Among them is the great cover shot of Syd Brookes and Bernie McLelland descending North Peak in the Arrowsmith Range in 1939, from an album compiled by Stan Conway.

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We can’t claim the splendid cover picture for Simon Nathan’s biography James Hector: explorer, scientist leader – that comes from the Alexander Turnbull Library – but he has made very good use of Hector’s papers, held at the Hocken. Hector’s notebooks are notoriously difficult to read, thanks to faint pencil combined with illegible handwriting, but some of the sketches in them make very effective illustrations in the book. Simon has also done splendid work transcribing various Hector letters in recent years, making them accessible to others.

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Hector’s sketches of Parengarenga Harbour and his Maori campanion, January 1866

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Another 2015 book which brings previously unpublished work to light is New country, a collection of plays and stories by James Courage, with an introduction by Christopher Burke. Some have been previously published, but one comes straight from Courage’s papers at the Hocken. The book also features some fascinating photographs from Courage’s papers. Genre Books, the publisher, also made good use of Hocken material in a 2014 book, Chris Brickell’s Southern men: gay lives in pictures. This includes numerous photographs from the archives of David Wildey, held in the Hocken largely thanks to Chris. On the cover is one of Wildey’s photographs, recording a visit to Waimairi Beach, Christchurch in 1960.

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Lest we leave you with the impression that all material from our collection is about recreation and enjoyment, another cover from 2014 shows a sober purpose. Presbyterian Support Otago’s report Out in the cold: a survey of low income private rental housing in Dunedin features one of our old photographs of the crowded suburbs of southern Dunedin. The Hocken really does have material for all sorts of purposes.

Hocken : Prince of Collectors

Thursday, June 25th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

DonaldBookLaunch2015

The Hocken Collections was delighted to host the launch of Dr Donald Jackson Kerr’s latest book, Hocken : Prince of Collectors last night.

Donald is of course a colleague of ours and frequent Hocken visitor. We have followed progress on this project with great interest as Donald has spent many, many hours both here and at other institutions researching Dr Hocken’s collecting activities.

Our heartiest congratulations to Donald on the publication of a wonderful book which adds substantially to our understanding of Dr Hocken and his collections.

For more information on the book see this article in the Otago Bulletin.

Book on Dr Hocken to be launched tonight