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Michael King’s death a tragic twist

News release Wednesday 31 March 2004

Michael King’s death a tragic twist says publishers

Michael King’s publishers, Penguin New Zealand, is mourning his loss as news of the car crash near Maramarua killing him and his wife Maria Jungowska was announced today.

At the pinnacle of his publishing career, Michael King’s latest book, the Penguin History of New Zealand has sold in excess of 50,000 copies since its publication in October last year. A special hardback edition will be published in June.

“The success of the Penguin History says a huge amount about Michael – his profile and his reputation as one of our very finest writers and historians. He is held in deep admiration not only by his publishers, but by thousands of New Zealanders,” says Penguin Publishing Director Geoff Walker.

“It is a tragic twist of fate that his death should come just when his health was on the mend and his new book has been such a huge success.

“His death is a huge loss. We had discussed a number of other books together. In fact we had, within the last week, made an agreement to publish his memoirs,” says Walker. “Michael was excited by the idea of the memoirs.”

In a career spanning thirty years Michael King had won a wider range of awards for his books, journalism and television work than any other New Zealand writer.

These include the Prime Minister’s Award for literary achievement in 2003, the Montana Medal for non-fiction and the Wattie Book of the Year prize twice.

-over 2/ The scope and breadth of Michael King’s work is impressive and unique. Beginning his writing career in the 1970’s by writing Maori history and biography, he had more recently turned his attention to writing about what it means to be Pakeha.

Michael King is also acknowledged as one of the country’s leading literary biographers. His biography Wrestling With The Angel, A Life of Janet Frame was both a critical and commercial success. Michael was awarded the Montana Medal, the booksellers choice award and the readers choice award for this book in 2000. Published in the UK, USA and Australia, it has sold in excess of 15,000 copies in New Zealand alone.

Michael King was continually broadening his range of writing. He wrote over thirty-four books including Moko; Being Pakeha Now; Moriori; Frank Sargeson A Life; At The Edge of Memory; New Zealanders At War; Death Of The Rainbow Warrior; Wresting With The Angel, A Life of Janet Frame and The Penguin History of New Zealand.

Walker, who has known Michael King since he was eighteen, says ‘Everybody who knew Michael King in a personal sense valued his warmth and his generosity. He was always helpful and was wonderful at maintaining friendships over the long-term. When his health permitted he was the life and soul of the party. He will be enormously missed.’


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