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Farewell Margaret Mahy

posted 24 Jul 2012, 02:49 by Sandra Kirby   [ updated 24 Jul 2012, 02:52 ]
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Really sad to hear of Margaret Mahy's death last night.  Apparently she was diagnosed with cancer in April so this has all been v quick.  Her family were all with her.

Today I have been listening to some of the Mahy tributes and I learnt a great deal.  The Lion in the Meadow, which was one of the first books that came when Mark was a baby and was a v well read story for all 3 of you, was her first published children's book.  
The story of her being  published is almost as good as one of her own stories.  She was a full time librarian in the 1960s to support her and her children, which means she was a solo mother well before that was a terminology in the common lexicon. Because she loved to write at night she used to write for the School Journal, a vehicle that has been important for many NZ children's authors.  In 1961 her Lion inThe Meadow story was published in a school journal which almost certainly means your Dad and I would have been reading this as part of our primary school reading programme.  Anyway in 1965 the School Journals went on a tour to the USA as they were, and still are, a unique reading teaching tool.  So in NY the school journals are on display at some academic institution and an employee of a publishing company saw the journal that happened to be opened atThe Lion in the Meadow story.

He rang his boss and said you need to make contact with this children's author from NZ.  The publisher made contact and flew to NZ with her 13 suitcases (no baggage limits in 1965) and then needed 2 taxis to take her from Chch airport to the Mahy home in Governor's Bay.  Signed Margaret Mahy as an author on the spot.  Lion in the Meadow won the Carnegie Award, international award for children's literature, the following year.

Mahy only gave up her librarian job to write full time in 1980, despite her success it wasn't enough or regular enough to cover her costs before that.  Last book was published last week.

Loved one of her poems I heard 
Ghosts

Two ghosts are walking out today
And one I cannot see
The ghosts of who I was before 
And who I am yet to be.

The Ghost of what I was before
Is still a friend to me
The other ghost, the one I fear
Is what I am yet to be

If I could draw the veil aside
Perhaps then I could see
The face of this
The stronger ghost
The one I am to be

Yet I am blessed
In this I think
The future's hid from me
And I must wait to meet this ghost
Of what I am to be 

There are two ghosts abroad today
And one I cannot see
The first a wraith of what I was
The other is to be.

I found it profound.  She is probably NZ most successful author in terms of sales, awards, amount of money made and international translation.  Did you know her books have been translated into 30 languages including Afrikaans and Icelandic?
There v long post.  



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