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Joanna Woods Named 2005 National Library Fellow

6 December 2004

Joanna Woods Named 2005 National Library Fellow

Wellington biographer Joanna Woods has been named National Library Research Fellow for 2005.

She will use the $45,000 fellowship, which is awarded annually for research use of the Alexander Turnbull Library's resources, to research and write a biography of Charles Nalder Baeyertz, the founder and editor of New Zealand's first cultural magazine, the Triad.

'Baeyertz's main claim to fame,' Dr Woods said, 'is the Triad, which was a brilliantly successful attempt by one man to make culture accessible to all New Zealanders, but he is also a fascinating figure in his own right. Alan Mulgan described him as 'the most forceful and picturesque personality' in the annals of New Zealand's early periodicals, yet today he is virtually forgotten and, despite a wealth of material, no attempt has been made to write a full-length study of his life or to evaluate his contribution to our cultural heritage.'

A major component in Dr Woods' research will be the Turnbull Library's extensive holdings of the Triad, which span most of its 34-year run, from 1893 to 1927, and accurately reflect the literary, musical and artistic tastes of contemporary New Zealanders. Dr Woods also intends to make full use of the Turnbull Library's Newspaper Research Room and the National Library's Music Room to explore the social and historical context in which Baeyertz lived.

'Although the book will be structured biographically,' Dr Woods said, 'one of its aims will be to throw a new light on the rich cultural life of New Zealanders during a period that is often dismissed as being devoid of literary or artistic merit. In fact, what originally led me to Baeyertz was the evidence of New Zealand's lively cultural life that I discovered when I was researching Katherine Mansfield's teenage years in Wellington.'

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Dr Woods has a PhD from Moscow State University and has written two biographies, The Commissioner's Daughter and Katerina: the Russian world of Katherine Mansfield. She has also contributed to a number of publications, including a forthcoming collection on Mansfield with Vincent O'Sullivan and CK Stead.

She is married, with two children, and has accompanied her husband on numerous diplomatic postings, including France, Russia, Greece, Italy, Iran and the USA. Since her return to New Zealand in 1999, she has been living in Thorndon. Dr Woods will take up her fellowship in March 2005.


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