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Nurse to the Imagination: The Burns Fellowship

‘A literary wine-tasting’

“Part of a university’s proper business is to act as nurse to the arts, or, more exactly, to the imagination as it expresses itself in the arts and sciences. Imagination may flourish anywhere. But it should flourish as a matter of course in the university, for it is only through imaginative thinking that society grows, materially and intellectually” asserted Charles Brasch, one of the founders of the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago.

From iconic writers like Janet Frame, James K. Baxter and Owen Marshall to effervescent newcomers such as Jo Randerson, Alison Wong and Sue Wootton, Nurse to the Imagination celebrates 50 years of ‘talent and towering hope’ as the second Burns Fellow, Maurice Duggan, cheekily wrote in 1960.

The late Reg Graham’s famous photographs signpost scholarly overviews of each fellow’s career.

But the primary delight lies in the excerpted works begun (and sometimes completed) during each fellow’s tenure, works which have found their way into the heads and hearts of New Zealanders: Along Rideout Road that Summer, The Rainbirds, A Small Ode on Mixed Flatting, Rain, The Loners, My Father Today, Middle-Age Spread, Wrestling with the Angel... Lawrence Jones describes his book as ‘a literary wine-tasting’. There are many colours, flavours, textures to be sampled.

About Lawrence Jones
Editor Lawrence Jones is a leading historian of New Zealand fiction, and Emeritus Professor in the University of Otago’s Department of English. He has written Barbed Wire and Mirrors: Essays on New Zealand Prose (1990) and Picking up the Traces: The Making of a New Zealand Literary Culture 1932-1945.

Publication details

Title: Nurse to the Imagination
Subtitle: 50 Years of the Robert Burns Fellowship
In store from: October 2008
Price: NZ$45.00


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