Jane Mander

New Zealand writer Jane Mander (1877-1949) lived overseas for 20 years, spending time in New York and then in London. During this period she published six novels. She returned to New Zealand in October 1932, with the intention of writing further fiction novels.

However, due to the poor health of her elderly, demanding father (who lived to be 95) she ended up having to balance being a care giver with journalism work. Since she had no other income, she took on a strenuous workload of magazine articles, book reviews and radio talks.

Ref: 7-A9827, Jane Mander, 1890s, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Auckland Public Library in Wellesley Street became an important refuge for her. Sometimes she was even granted a little back room in which to work on her journalistic tasks.

One of the librarians of the 1930s, Maud Graham (nee Ballantyne), who knew Mander well, supplied a vivid verbal portrait to Mander's biographer Dorothea Turner: ‘I both liked and admired her. She was ill, angry and unsocial - frustrated, desperate for someone of her own mental calibre. She had no inhibitions. What she felt she expressed. Beautiful clean cut face and head, sharp and full of attack. Like a seagull - her voice too was harsh and complaining. A bird left behind when the flock migrated?’

Ref: 7-A118854, Jane Mander, 1923, Sir George Grey Special Collections
In March 1937 Mander gave to the library the hand-corrected typescripts of four of her novels - 'The strange attraction' (1922), 'Allen Adair' (1925), 'The besieging city' (1926) and 'Pins and pinnacles' (1928). The first two of these are set in Northland, where Mander grew up in various timber-milling communities. 'The besieging city' has a New York setting and 'Pins and pinnacles' is set in London and Paris. At the same time, Mander also donated copies of the first edition of her earliest and most famous novel, 'The story of a New Zealand river' (1920).

Ref: 7-C1945, items from Jane Mander's collection, Sir George Grey Special Collections
In the early 1970s Dorothea Turner arranged donations of personal papers, travel documents, radio talks and newspaper and magazine clippings (including otherwise hard-to-locate short stories) to the library from Mander's sister, Amy Cross. The photograph of Mander shown above is taken from a French ‘passeporte à étranger’ issued for a trip to Tours in 1914.

Auckland Libraries has a number of resources written by or about Jane Mander in its heritage collections. You can also browse the resources by theme.

Ref: A-9830, Jane Mander, c.1930s, Sir George Grey Special Collections