This issue reflects the intense activity of women as writers, publishers, painters and participants in every conceivable activity from those presented in The Book of New Zealand Women to a lively figure of an earlier age, Lady Barker, whose classic Station Life in New Zealand has appeared in a new illustrated edition. Readers of colonial literature will be well aware of the contributions of women to a human portrayal of life in an old/ new country that has usually been very different from the often dry statistics that often encumbered the more earnest writings of men. There is a limit to our continued interest in the possibilities of the flax trade. Sarah Harriet Selwyn, Jane Maria Atkinson and Lady Martin are the harbingers of a rich artistic vein which has now developed an increasingly astute genre of social and political criticism. Male writers may seem here almost crowded out but they have asserted their presence in important histories of architecture and painting and in the explosive aura that surrounds A F Bellette’s review of the new biography of Patrick White. New Zealand has not yet produced such a catalytic figure. To forestall any thoughts that there may be an element of male revenge in the dramatic marginal figure on page nine it should be made clear that all the illustrations for this issue were chosen by our esteemed designer.
In announcing our progress into volume two in June we hope that our initial subscribers will continue with us, thus allowing us to expand, to include more thematic reviews and to help New Zealand Books to fulfil the role it has set itself. Thank you for your greatly valued and we hope, increasingly articulate support.
[John Mansfield Thomson was the founding editor of New Zealand Books.]