A long-standing interest in the life stories of prominent New Zealanders led Parliamentary Librarian Guy Scholefield to amass, in his own time, a collection of biographical notes with a view to publishing privately A dictionary of New Zealand biography. When the National Centennial Historical Committee (of which Scholefield was a member) learned of this project, they suggested it should be an official centennial publication. Scholefield, who compiled the immensely popular two-volume work which appeared in 1940, received an honorarium of £300. He envisaged his dictionary as an ongoing work, to be updated at intervals, but when he proposed a third volume in 1955 the government was very reluctant to fund it, and it never eventuated. However, a new biographical dictionary began in the 1980s.
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