Essie Summers still sizzles

One of the delightful aspects of the research centres is the absolute diversity of material we have here. Some might question just why we collect the material we do but there are times when one feels particularly pleased with the powers-that-be who have, over the years, built up the collections.
In this case, I am talking about the work of the renowned Kiwi romance writer, Essie Summers.  She was a Mills and Boon phenomenon, a pastor’s wife who began writing for the publisher in the 1950s, and became one of their best selling and most loved authors. She died in 1998, but her popularity is such that at times M&B still reprint her novels as part of their Bestseller programme.

Essie Summers books at the Central Auckland Research Centre
A few months back, a customer came in to the Central Auckland Research Centre looking for the fiction. She was a huge Essie fan and, as all fan-girls do, she was going through a re-reading stage. However, she was missing a few titles in her collection, there were no borrowable copies in the system (these heritage resources have a reference only status due to their age and a number of other factors), and we happened to have the one she wanted right here on the shelves. And so, over several days, this lady came in to town, to the research centre, just so she could re-read this particular romance. She told us she was originally from South Africa and like so many romance readers world wide, had grown up reading Essie Summers. It’s a common story. A work colleague once told me she’d decided to emigrate from India because she’d fallen in love with the New Zealand that Essie Summers had written so descriptively about, such was her skill with words.

Although we don’t have every one of her novels in the collection, it is heart warming to know that the work of this iconic Kiwi writer, even several decades after her final book was published, is still being read and loved.

Read more about Essie Summers and search for holdings at Auckland Libraries.

Author: Joanne Graves, Central Auckland Research Centre


  1. Thank you so much for preserving the work of Essie Summers. I'm such a big fan of hers, and began reading her work when I was a teen in the 80's. I have all her novels and her biography, and I re-read them often.


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