Activity in the Nineties
The nineties were to see a good deal of literary activity. First in the field was the monthly Triad, begun in Dunedin in July 1893. Its editor, C. N. Baeyertz, later transferred it to Wellington and, after some years of simultaneous publication in Sydney, in 1925 removed there, where the journal lasted into the nineteen thirties. The Triad's links with music and the stage were closer than with literature (it was owned at first by the Dresden, later Bristol, Piano Co.), but it provided a profusion of stories, poems, and reviews, and lively sallies somewhat in the vein of its Sydney contemporary, the Bulletin. It carried a good many illustrations, occasionally original caricatures, but more often portrait photographs or reproductions of the “story pictures” which still adorned Royal Academy exhibitions. Such writers as A. A. Grace, Charles Wilson, Frank Morton, and Alice A. Kenny were frequent contributors.
The Citizen, a monthly announcing itself in September 1895 as the “journal of the Forward Movement”, lasted eight issues. Its tone was serious and its contributors frighteningly respectable – A. R. Atkinson, Stout, T. W. Hislop, George Fowlds, D. E. Beaglehole, T. H. Sprott. It was preoccupied with social and political topics, but was not above “borrowing” poems by the pen of Whitman or W. E. Henley.
Near the end of the decade (October 1899) the New Zealand Illustrated Magazine first appeared and kept on until 1905. This was at last a successful general-interest monthly, copiously illustrated both by photographs and by the original work of Frances Hodgkins, Bowring, and Herbert Fitzherbert. It noticed sport, as well as everything of importance in drama (delighting in photographing visiting actresses), music, and literature. It printed a good deal of verse and fiction, including serials. It attracted the best talent of the day – James Hight, Professors Bickerton and Maclaurin, Forrest, and Malcolm Ross, James Cowan, Guy H. Scholefield, Elsdon Best, H. M. Stowell, Johannes Andersen, Jessie Mackay, Alan Mulgan, and Robert Stout. It was perhaps too self-conscious in its determination to be New Zealand, but to a great extent succeeded in reflecting the best of its epoch.
The lean period that followed lasted until the appearance in November 1924 of E. J. McEldowney's New Nation, a weekly with close links with the academic world, particularly Victoria College. When it gave up publication, in July 1925, it had printed work by Stout, T. A. Hunter, I. L. G. Sutherland, P. W. Robertson, J. C. Beaglehole, H. C. D. Somerset, F. L. Combs, R. F. Fortune, H. von Haast, H. D. Skinner, and Mona Tracey.
In September 1928 a man of faith, the printer H. H. Tombs, brought out the quarterly Art in New Zealand. For the first time paintings were regularly reproduced in colour. Such writers as Eileen Duggan, Robin Hyde, C. R. Allen, and Mona Tracey – and in later years many more – had found a suitably dignified vehicle. Dignity was perhaps overdone, as the journal tended to be too expensively produced ever to pay, but it continued even through the war years, though with a change of format, and finally in 1945 became the Arts Year Book which, under Howard Wadman's editorship, lasted several years more. Mr Tombs could take pride in looking back at a periodical which had rendered signal services to the arts.