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Janet Frame

Known for her poetic writing style as well as her troubled and dramatic life story, Janet Frame was New Zealand's most internationally-renowned writer, author of an autobiographical trilogy ("To the Is-Land," "An Angel at My Table," "The Envoy From Mirror City") and numerous works of fiction and poetry.

Janet Frame

She began life in Dunedin, the third of five children in a working class family, her early life marred by tragedy: two sisters drowned in separate incidents and her brother suffered with epilepsy. In early adulthood Frame’s life unravelled: she attempted suicide and was admitted and re-admitted to psychiatric institutions, eventually being diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) with schizophrenia. 

By 1951, having undergone numerous electroshock treatments, she was a patient at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, awaiting a lobotomy. Then her first published collection of stories won one of New Zealand's most prestigious literary prizes. Her lobotomy was cancelled and the rest, as they say… 

Janet Frame, Edge of the Alphabet

"The sun is all love and murder, judgement, the perpetual raid of conscience, paratrooping light which opens like a snow-blossom in the downward drift of death. Wherever I turn - the golden cymbals of judgement, the summoning of the torturers of light."

Janet Frame, "the torturers of light"

“…out of a desire to be myself, not to follow the ever-dominant personalities around me, I had formed the habit of focusing in places not glanced at by others, of deliberately turning away from the main view…My memory of myself contains now myself looking outward and myself looking within from without, developing the view that others might have of me.”

Janet Frame quote

“I sit here at my desk, peering into the depths of the dance, for the movement is dance with its own pattern, neither good nor bad, but individual in its own right–a dance of dust or sunbeams or bacteria or notes of sound or colours or liquids, or ideas that the writer, trying to write an autobiography, clings to in one moment only.”

Janet Frame quote

“The sea crashes against the alphabet, the letters crack and split like icing when the soft sweetness has worn away and only the brittle water-tasting bones remain.”

Janet Frame quote

The Janet Frame Collection

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