- Christmas-Flavoured Kiwi Literature
Thorpe Talbot. ‘Blue cap’ in White hood: and, Blue cap: a Christmas bough with two branches. Dunedin: Joseph Braithwaite, 1881.
Writing as Thorpe Talbot, Frances Ellen Talbot (1850-1923) was a popular writer of her day and Dunedin resident, most renowned for the award-winning novel Philiberta, first published as a serial in 1882.
Previously she had written the tragic Gothic novella Blue cap. The eve of Christmas is a recurring temporal setting in this melodramatic love story set partly in (a very exuberantly praised) Dunedin. A whirlwind love affair occurs between the heroine Marion Medway and the personable young lawyer, Gower Hamilton during a Christmas Eve shipwreck at Picton. However their love is thwarted when Marion, acting on false information, agrees to marry an increasingly sinister station-owner who hides his deformity beneath a large blue cap.
William Freeman. ‘Okewai Brown: a blood-curdling tale of a Christmas ghost’ in He who digged a pit: a tale founded on fact, and other stories. Dunedin: J. Wilkie, 1889.
A Kiwi version of the Dickensian ghost story, ‘Okewai Brown’ is a lurid tale of a Christmas hunting trip gone awry. Told from the contrasting perspectives of the two participants, “The spiritualist’s tale’ and ‘The unbeliever’s version’, the reader is left to decide the truth.
The author’s story is equally melodramatic. William Freeman Kitchen (1863-1897), known as William Freeman, was editor of the literary magazine Zealandia and the Globe newspaper in Dunedin. A scandalous figure, he quit the financially-ruined Globe, fled to Australia, faked his own death and bigamously married a chorus girl. He returned disguised as a theatrical agent to Dunedin, where he was exposed by his idiosyncratic mannerisms and distinct limp, and tried for bigamy. He died by suicide in Australia in 1897.
Reeds' New Zealand Christmas annual: Number 1. Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, [1947?]
This first number of Reeds’ New Zealand Christmas annual was the only one to be issued. It is a literary collection, featuring New Zealand short fiction, non-fiction and poetry, travel articles and photographs, and the odd cartoon of dubious taste.
Ngaio Marsh. The Christmas tree. London: B.P.C.K. for the Religions Drama Society of Great Britain, 1962.
Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982), best known as the doyen of New Zealand crime fiction, also wrote this short Christmas play intended primarily for children.
Marsh loved to celebrate Christmas lavishly with friends and relatives, especially the children. Several of Marsh’s works – especially later ones - contain Christmas motifs, including the operetta A unicorn for Christmas (1962) and the mystery Tied up in tinsel (1972).