New Zealand writers of the past were stuck in a colonial backwater and forced overseas to gain appreciation and a readership, at least according to conventional literary history.
But in her new book The Expatriate Myth, UC History graduate Helen Bones overturns this traditional view of the literary lives of New Zealand writers in the late 19th and early 20th century. She questions these assumptions through her own detailed historical and empirical research.
‘Many New Zealand writers of this period travelled extensively or lived overseas for a time. But this was not a rejection of their homeland to advance their careers’, says Helen Bones. ‘Many of New Zealand’s writers living overseas operated in a transnational way, taking advantage of colonial networks in a way that belies any notion of a single national allegiance.’
Most who left New Zealand, even if they were away for a time, continued to write about and interact with their homeland, and in many cases came back, she says.
This fascinating and clear-sighted book is being launched by Professor Patrick Evans at a function at the University Book Shop, 5pm Thursday, 15 March. All are welcome.
She is currently living in Australia, where she teaches history and has a research position in Digital Humanities at Western Sydney University.