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Honorary Doctorate for Maurice Gee

Doctorate for Maurice Gee

The distinguished novelist Maurice Gee has received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from The University of Auckland.

It was bestowed on him by the Chancellor John Graham at a special ceremony at the English Department on June 21.

In her citation the University’s Public Orator, Professor Vivienne Gray, said Maurice Gee was being honoured “as one of New Zealand’s outstanding writers, as one also who has made a significant contribution to the Department of English in the University, both as a subject for literary research and teaching, and as a colleague and mentor to those who conduct it”.

Although Maurice Gee is best known as a novelist — his major works include the trilogy of Plumb, Meg and Sole Survivor, Prowlers, and Going West — he is also a distinguished writer of short stories and a much-loved writer of children's fiction such as Under the Mountain and The Fat Man.

“Each of Gee’s novels bountifully gives us a rich vision of some region and aspect of New Zealand life, and of human life in general,” says his entry in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature. “Each is peopled with a variety of intensely living and unique personalities together with lush images of the natural and social worlds.”

He has won many national book awards, including the Wattie Award (twice), the Montana Award, the New Zealand Fiction Award (four times), the New Zealand Children's Book of the Year Award and, in Britain, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His Live Bodies won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 1998 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. The Scornful Moon, published last year, is a finalist in this year's awards.

Maurice Gee was among ten of New Zealand’s greatest living artists named as Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artists at a ceremony in 2003. His fantasy classic Under the Mountain won the 2004 Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book that did not gain an award when published but has remained in print and popular with readers.

The film Fracture, based on his novel Crime Story, will be released in cinemas in September. He has also written for television, and a number of his children's books have been made into television series. A film version of his novel In My Father's Den is also being released this year under that title.

He already holds a University of Auckland degree, having gained his MA in English there in 1954. In 1998 the University presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

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