The major encouragement to literary aspirants in New Zealand, apart from the Robert Burns Fellowship, is that given by the Literary Fund. This was established in 1947 after representations had been made to the Government by the P.E.N. It is financed from the vote of the Department of Internal Affairs, the money being allotted on the recommendation of an advisory committee. The Literary Fund was set up with three principal aims:
To facilitate the publication of works of literary value in the fields of historical writing, contemporary imaginative literature, and reprints of New Zealand classics and Maori literature.
To make financial grants to New Zealand authors undertaking creative work on approved projects.
To facilitate the publication of critical books and studies of New Zealand literature, usually by grants to publishers.
Under heading (1) the Fund has supported a wide range of books. Representative titles are: Keith Sinclair, The Origin of the Maori Wars (history); Maurice Duggan, Immanuel's Land (stories); Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry (novel); Bruce Mason, The Pohutukawa Tree (drama); Charles Doyle, A Splinter of Glass (poetry); M. H. Holcroft, Discovered Isles (criticism, reprint); Robin Hyde, Check to Your King (novel, reprint); John Logan Campbell, Poenamo (autobiography, reprint); John Gorst, The Maori King (history, reprint).
Authors assisted under (2) have received grants for travel, for research materials, etc. One of the notable books resulting is Antony Alpers' biography, Katherine Mansfield.
Under (3) assistance given includes subsidies to the Arts Year Book, Landfall, The New Zealand Poetry Yearbook, Mate, Numbers, Image, and other periodicals. There have been grants to literary bodies for bulletins, and for writers' conferences; a grant is made annually to the P.E.N. to bring the prize money of the Jessie Mackay Awards and Hubert Church up to £50 each.
After some 10 years' experience, the Literary Fund extended its activities by the creation of two annual awards for New Zealand writers. These are the Award of Achievement and the Scholarship in Letters.
The Award for Achievement is worth £100; winners to date are Janet Frame (for Owls Do Cry), Ruth France (for The Race), and O. E. Middleton (for The Stone).
The Scholarship in Letters is to the value of £1,000, is intended to enable the recipient to give all or most of his time to the project nominated by him, whether in New Zealand or abroad, during the year of tenure. Holders have been E. H. McCormick, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Maurice Shadbolt, and Marilyn Duckworth.
by Joan Stevens, M.A.(N.Z., OXON.), Associate Professor of English, Victoria University of Wellington.
- The New Zealand Writers Handbook, Perry, S. (ed.) (1952)
- A Survey of the Arts in New Zealand. Simpson, E. C. (1961).