Janet Frame

There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water.

– Janet Frame


born in Dunedin, New Zealand August 28, 1924
died: January 29, 2004
gender: female

The fate befalling the young woman who wanted “to be a poet” has been well documented. Desperately unhappy because of family tragedies and finding herself trapped in the wrong vocation (as a schoolteacher) her only escape appeared to be in submission to society’s judgement of her as abnormal. She spent four and a half years out of eight years, incarcerated in mental hospitals. The story of her almost miraculous survival of the horrors and brutalising treatment in unenlightened institutions has become well known. She continued to write throughout her troubled years, and her first book (The Lagoon and Other Stories) won a prestigious literary prize, thus convincing her doctors not to carry out a planned lobotomy.

She returned to society, but not the one which had labelled her a misfit. She sought the support and company of fellow writers and set out single-mindedly and courageously to achieve her goal of being a writer. She wrote her first novel (Owls Do Cry) while staying with her mentor Frank Sargeson, and then left New Zealand, not to return for seven years.



6 thoughts on “Janet Frame

  1. ‘August 28, 1924: Janet Frame was a patient at New Zealand’s Seacliff Lunatic Asylum when her first book, The Lagoon and Other Stories, was published. Its success led to the cancellation of a scheduled lobotomy. Frame went on to have a lasting literary career. She was born 89 years ago today.’
    – Goodreads

  2. Now her hair is very interesting.

  3. “I don’t want to inhabit the human world under false pretenses.”
    ― Janet Frame, Towards Another Summer

  4. People who rose above the so called “mental condition” are so admirable. Here’s another one.
    I find her story fascinating.

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