New Zealand literature. In the 20th cent. New Zealand developed a vital literary tradition, though only a few of its authors are well-known outside its islands: Katherine Mansfield, short-story writer; Sylvia Ashton-Warner, novelist and teacher; Eileen Duggan, poet; Dame Ngaio Marsh, writer of detective fiction; and Janet Frame, novelist. Nonetheless, New Zealand has maintained a flourishing literary culture since the 1930s. John Mulgan and Frank Sargeson initiated the New Zealand school in the interwar years, followed after World War II by Maurice Duggan, James K. Baxter, and Ian Cross. In subsequent decades, writers such as Maurice Gee and Maurice Shadbolt extended the permissible range of subjects to include New Zealand's Maori heritage. This new freedom is evident in works like Keri Hulme's The Bone People (1984) and Witi Ihimaera's writings. New Zealand has also figured in the works of many authors from Alfred Domett and Samuel Butler in the 19th cent. to the present-day students of Maori culture and New Zealand government.
See histories of New Zealand literature by A. Mulgan (1943), E. H. McCormick (1959), and J. C. Reid and P. Cope (1979); J. Stevens, The New Zealand Novel, 1860–1965 (2d ed. 1966); New Zealand Short Stories, a series of anthologies (1953–84); F. Adcock, The Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry (1982), and I. Wedde and H. McQueen, The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1985).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.