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Alfred Augustus Grace
was one of New Zealandís most accomplished early writers. Along with Alfred Domett, Jessie McKay, Blanche Baughan and William Satchell, he was a member of the celebrated Maoriland School of Writing that flourished between 1896 and 1915. These writers' romantic treatment of the Maori people helped shape New Zealandís culture in the early twentieth century.

Maoriland Stories, published in 1895, was Graceís first major publication. It contained four stories about settlers and three about Maori and Maori/Pakeha relations. The stories about Maori and Maori/Pakeha relations were of particular interest to readers of the time. Although New Zealandís population was by now overwhelmingly European, the Maori and their culture continued to occupy the Pakeha imagination. Besides, Grace knew a lot about the Maori way of life. His father and his older brother had both worked as missionaries among Maori, and Grace had spent time with many of the Maori people in his fatherís circle.

A further reason had to do with New Zealand politics. As in Australia, the main topic of debate was independence from Britain. New Zealand was faced with several options Ė stay with Britain, gain independence by joining the Federation of Australian States, or gain independence by striking out alone. Most New Zealanders preferred the last option. Inspired by this idea, Grace, and a few other local writers, began to conceive of a literature that would be unique to New Zealand. It made sense that Maori life and culture should figure prominently in this literature since this was something that differentiated New Zealand not just from England but also from its near neighbour Australia.


NEW EDITION: In this new 226 page softcover edition, an extended essay by Dr Anne Maxwell of the University of Melbourne discusses the author and his stories, placing them in their historical and cultural context. This near-facsimile retains most of the design of the original, including many decorative capital letters, woodcut illustrations and printers' decorations.

COVER IMAGE:  A New Zealand Girl, drawn by Augustus Earle and engraved by J Stewart, published in 1832 by Longman & Co, London. Blue lips were an important female adornment at that time Ė much preferred to red lips.

 

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