Biography

2020 Awards Shortlist

After the excitement of Circa’s play reading of  Shirley and Bill to a full house on Sunday, I’m happy to add that Shirley Smith: An Examined Life is on the shortlist for the New Zealand Book Awards:

‘Sarah Gaitanos champions the life of Shirley Smith, whose achievements working for human rights and social causes are often overshadowed by the notoriety of her husband, Bill Sutch. Drawn from voluminous archives and the recollections of family and colleagues, a clear picture is presented of a frank, principled woman who swam against the current of her time. Written with clarity, insightful interpretation of sources and a steady tone, a remarkable story is expertly revealed.’

‘Shirley and Bill’ at Circa

I’m delighted that Circa Theatre is presenting a reading of Dean Parker’s play Shirley and Billbased on Shirley Smith: An Examined Life, during the upcoming New Zealand Festival in Wellington. Dean Parker is a legend and with Jane Waddell directing, Carmel McGlone playing Shirley and Gavin Rutherford playing Bill, it promises to be a great occasion. Details: 29 February at 2 p.m. in Circa One.  For more information and tickets, see Shirley and Bill.

Launching ‘Shirley Smith: An Examined Life’

Shirley Smith was launched by the Hon. Grant Robertson at Unity Books, Wellington, on Monday 10 June. It was an honour to have Grant launch the book. He gave a great speech, pointing up the significance of Shirley Smith and her relevance in our lives today. My thanks to others who spoke and all who made the launch such a success, especially VUP and Unity Books who hosted the event. No wonder your readers love you!

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May days

The month of May started for me in the Northern Hemisphere where it was all about spring, new life, a new grandson, family reunions and, as always, new research.

Back home in Lower Hutt, the magnolia cambellii has burst into flower unseasonably early. I don’t know what that means (other than climate change) but I’m taking it as a good sign.

The month has also rewarded me in other ways: the publication of Shirley Smith: An Examined Life, the wonderful Auckland Writers’ Festival, and some good early reviews.

Also, my entry on Shirley Smith for the on-line Dictionary of New Zealand Biography has just been published.

And,  quite unrelated, the New Zealand Society of Authors’ podcast of my oral history interview with Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, recorded in 2004, had gone live. (Since then, NZSA have added my interviews with Ian Cross and Tony Simpson.)

My book launch for Shirley Smith is yet to come! to be launched by Hon Grant Robertson (he has to get his Wellbeing Budget out first) on 10 June, 6.00 to 7.30 at Unity Books, Wellington. All welcome!