Sargeson, Frank


Frank Sargeson


21 March 1903 "Norris Frank Davey" in Hamilton, NZ


1 March 1982, Auckland, NZ


NZ short story writer, editor of short story anthologies and mentor to younger writers

Frank Sargeson (21 March 1903 – 1 March 1982) was the pen name of Norris Frank Davey. He is considered one of New Zealand's foremost short story writers and often called "the father of New Zealand literature." Like Katherine Mansfield, Sargeson helped to put New Zealand literature on the world map.

Life Edit

Born in Hamilton, New Zealand, Sargeson has been credited with introducing New Zealand English into short stories. His technique was to write the story without mentioning the setting. He also used a semi-articulate style which means that the story was written from a naive point of view. Events are simply told but are not explained.

Although Sargeson became known for his literary depiction of the laconic and unsophisticated New Zealand male, his upbringing had in fact been comfortable albeit puritanical. Upon completing his training as a solicitor, he spent two years in the United Kingdom. Sometime in the 1930s, he began living year-round in his parents' holiday cottage at 14A Esmonde Road in Takapuna, a northern suburb of Auckland. He eventually inherited the property which became for several decades an important gathering place for Auckland's bohemia and literati.

When Janet Frame was released in 1955 from eight years of voluntary incarceration in New Zealand psychiatric hospitals, Sargeson invited her to stay in an ex-army hut on his property. He introduced her to other writers and affirmed her literary vocation and encouraged her to adopt good working habits. She lived in the shed for about a year, during which time she wrote her first novel, Owls Do Cry.

During the 1930s and 40s, Sargeson experienced considerable economic hardship, as his literary output earned him very little money. This experience left him permanently sympathetic to the Left. For example, he quietly advocated closer relations between New Zealand and Maoist China. He was also gay at a time when sodomy was illegal in New Zealand. In 1929, he was arrested on a morals charge in Wellington, but later acquitted. King (1995) believes that this trial explains why Sargeson adopted a pen name and never practiced the profession for which he had trained[1].

Sargeson died in Auckland.

Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship Edit

(see full article)

A fellowship run by the The Frank Sargeson Trust in association with Auckland University and sponsored by Buddle Findlay supports writer(s) to live in the Sargeson Centre, adjacent to the University of Auckland, with an annual stipend.[2]

Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellows
Year Fellow Genre
2011 Sue Orr
2011 Mark Broatch
2010 Sonja Yelich
2010 Sarah Laing
2009 Steve Braunias non-fiction
2009 Julian Novitz
2008 Brigid Lowry
2008 Paula Morris
2007 James George
2006 Emily Perkins novels
2005 Fiona Samuel
2005 Peter Cox
2004 Karyn Hay novels, broadcasting
2004 Craig Marriner novels
2003 Toa Fraser plays (theatre)
2003 Debra Daley
2002 Riemke Ensing poetry
2002 Denis Baker
2001 Vivienne Plumb
2001 Chad Taylor novels
2000 Sue Reidy
2000 James Brown
2000 Charlotte Grimshaw short stories
1999 Tina Shaw
1999 Kapka Kassabova poetry
1998 Catherine Chidgey novels
1998 Sarah Quigley
1997 Shonagh Koea
1997 Diane Brown
???? Kevin Ireland poetry
???? Alan Duff novels
???? Elspeth Sandys
???? Michael King
???? Marilyn Duckworth
1984 Janet Frame poetry, short stories, novels


  1. King, Michael (1995). Frank Sargeson: A Life. Viking. ISBN 0-670-83847-0.
  2. "Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship" accessed 14 July 2011

External linksEdit

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