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
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.