Looking for the Phoenix

Looking for the Phoenix

A Memoir

W.H. Oliver, a central figure in New Zealand’s intellectual landscape, reflects on the decades of his own life and the history that has shaped him.

The first editor of The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and the author of The Story of New Zealand, Oliver tells of his Cornish upbringing, the influences of feminism, friendship and family, and his part in the key intellectual and historical debates of his time.

A wide-ranging account by a man who was poet, author and scholar, it is also perceptive, wry and sometimes painfully honest.

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Table of contents

1. A colonial future
2. A home in a strange land       
3. Making a better world
4. People of the world
5. A time of opening
6. Departures and journeys
7. Finding a country
8. An expanding horizon
9. A time of turning
10. A crowded portrait gallery
11. Histories and politics
12. A history to live by

Print publication:
Ebook publication: Jan 2013
Pages: 178
RRP: $39.99
ISBN: 9781877242984
ISTC: A022012000021204
DOI: 10.7810/9781877242984

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Read Brian Turner's review in New Zealand Books.

'An aesthetic achievement of a kind that memoirs seldom approach' Vincent O'Sullivan

'Intensely interesting and deeply satisfying' Michael King

'This is an elegantly and warmly told memoir that weaves the story of history and the historian together to reveal how the telling of our story reflects the character of our teller' Wairarapa Times-Age

'This reflection on the interaction of life and history is one of the most haunting memoirs to come out of this country' The New Zealand Listener, Best of 2002 Books of the Year

'… a graceful, thoughtful and moving memoir' Montana New Zealand Book Awards Judges Report 2003


Montana Award Finalist