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Janet Frame

Janet Frame (August 28, 1924 - January 29, 2004) was a New Zealand writer.

Born in Southland, New Zealand and raised in Oamaru, she became one of the pre-eminent New Zealand writers. Educated at Waitaki Girls' High School and Dunedin Teachers College, she spent much time in London and in North America.

In 1947, she was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia and admitted herself to Seacliff Mental Hospital. She spent seven years in various psychiatric hospitals, undergoing over two hundred shock treatments. She published her first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Lagoon and Other Stories in 1951. She was close to having a lobotomy until the book won the Hubert Church Memorial Award .

From 1954 to 1955 she lived with Frank Sargeson who encouraged her writing. In 1956, Frame left New Zealand with the help of a State Literary Fund grant. For seven years she lived in Ibiza, Andorra and England.

She served as a Burns fellow at the University of Otago, and lived in the Horowhenua.

Family background proved important to her in her early published work Owls Do Cry, and forms the hinterland to her autobiographical trilogy: To the Is-land, An Angel at my Table, and The Envoy from Mirror City.

Frame won best book of the 1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize for her book The Carpathians.

On February 6, 1990 she was made an additional member of the Order of New Zealand.

In 1990, her book An Angel at my Table was made into a film of the same name.

Several times she has been tipped to win the Nobel Prize in literature, most recently in 2003 when Asa Bechman, chief literary critic, at the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter predicted that Frame would win.

She was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia during August 2003. She died of this disease in Dunedin Hospital on January 29, 2004.

Literary Works

  • Lagoon and Other Stories (1951)
  • Owls Do Cry (1957)
  • Faces in the Water
  • The Edge of the Alphabet
  • Scented Gardens for the Blind
  • Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies
  • The Reservoir: Stories and Sketches
  • The Adaptable Man: A Novel
  • State of Siege
  • The Pocket Mirror
  • Yellow Flowers in the Antipodean Room
  • Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun
  • Intensive Care: A Novel
  • Living in the Maniototo
  • The Carpathians
  • You Are Now Entering the Human Heart
  • The Adaptable Man: A Novel
  • Daughter Buffalo

Trivia: The original 1946 edition, and a number of subsequent editions printed using movable type of her story "Dossy" contain a completely mistaken, out of place line in the third to last paragraph.

Last updated: 11-08-2004 00:17:32