Maurice Gee is a distinguished New Zealand fiction writer. He has received numerous awards, nominations and grants for both his adult fiction and his young adult and children’s books, and was bestowed the prestigious Icon Award in 2003 by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. His short stories and novels are characterised by their real or imaginatively-reworked local settings, dysfunctional families and sketches of violence. Gee’s numerous publications and his wide readership have contributed to his reputation as one of New Zealand’s most significant writers of fiction.
Maurice Gee is a multiple award-winning novelist. A Glorious Morning, Comrade (1976), Plumb (1979), and The Burning Boy (1991) each received prizes for Fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards in their corresponding years of publication. He has twice received the Esther Glen Award at the LIANZA Children's Book Awards, first in 1986 for Motherstone in 1986, and again in 1995 for The Fat Man. He has also received two first place awards at the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards: for Plumb in 1979, and for Going West in 1993.
He was the 1964 Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in Dunedin.
Gee received an Honourary Doctorate for services to Literature (DLitt) from Victoria University of Wellington in 1987. In 1989, he was the Victoria University Writers' Fellow.
Gee was the 1992 recipient of the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship. One of New Zealand's most long-standing and prestigious literary awards, the fellowship is offered annually to enable a New Zealand writer to work in Menton, France. Previous years' recipients include C.K. Stead and Janet Frame.
Since the completion of The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, Gee has published the novel Live Bodies (Penguin, 1998), which won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 1998 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. He has also published several books for children and/or young adults: most recently Hostel Girl (Puffin, 1999).
In 2002, Gee was honoured by the Children's Literature Foundation for his long-term contribution to childrens literature and literacy. The Foundation named Gee as the winner of the Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award.
Ellie and the Shadow Man (Penguin, 2001) was short-listed at the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Told in five parts, the narrative traces each significant period of protagonist Ellie’s life, from her difficult childhood in Lower Hutt to the artistic and maternal experiences brought by middle age. Over the course of her life she becomes involved with a series of feckless, forgettable men – but it is the ever-present shadow man who haunts Ellie’s thoughts and forces his way into her paintings.
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.
The Scornful Moon was published by Penguin in 2003. Set in 1935 Wellington, the story centers on James Tinling, a former Cabinet Minister; Eric Clifton, world-renowned moon scientist, and Sam Holloway, literary man and moralist. The Scornful Moon (2003) was short-listed for Best Book in the South Pacific & South East Asian Region of the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
Maurice Gee's fantasy classic Under the Mountain was the winner of 2004 Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book. This annual Children's Literature Foundation of New Zealand Award honours a New Zealand book that did not win an award at time of publication but has remained in print and won favour with readers.
Fracture, based on the novel Crime Story by Maurice Gee premiered in March 2004 at the Paramount Theatre in Wellington. The film, directed by Larry Parr, was released throughout New Zealand in June 2004.
In My Father's Den was made into a feature film of the same name, directed by Brad McGann and starring Matthew Macfadyen, Miranda Otto and Emily Barclay. It was released in New Zealand in 2004.
The Scornful Moon was a runner up in the fiction category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004.
In 2004, Maurice Gee received a $60,000 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for fiction. That same year, he received his second Honourary Doctorate in Literature, this time from The University of Auckland.
Maurice Gee's novel Blindsight (Penguin Books, 2005) won the Deutz Medal for Fiction, and the Montana Award for Fiction at the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Gee also jointly received the Readers' Choice Award with Fiona Kidman.
One of New Zealand's leading writers for both adults and children, Gee has won the Wattie/Montana Award three times, most recently with Live Bodies, which has sold more than 11,000 copies and like all his novels, was also published by Faber and Faber in the UK.
Salt (Penguin New Zealand, 2007), received the New Zealand Post Book Award for Young Adult Fiction at the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was also listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book. The second in the trilogy, Gool, was listed as a 2009 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
In Access Road (Penguin, 2009), main character Rowan watches her younger brother lose his battle with memory, and wonders how long she can keep her own past at bay. Access Road is a novel of chilling tension and expansive humanity; a beautifully crafted work of literature and a seductive family story.
Maurice Gee's children’s classic Under the Mountain was released as a major motion picture on 10th December 2009.
In 2009, a New Zealand Book Council short film featuring an excerpt from Gee's novel Going West was awarded an international prize for paper cut animation by New York’s Museum of Art and Design. The animation won the Museum's Choice grand prize award at Moving Paper, an international film festival held at the museum in March. In addition, the film has also won two Axis Gold awards, in the Charity category and the Art Direction & Typography category. The Going West film, produced by Colenso BBDO, quickly became a YouTube hit and reached the worldwide top 10 in the viral video charts.
Gee’s latest novel, The Limping Man, is the third instalment in the Salt trilogy. Published in 2011, the novel was a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards of the same year.
Maurice Gee was the Honoured New Zealand Writer at the 2012 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.
In 2013, Gee wrote the short non-fiction work Creeks and Kitchens (BWB Texts), which functions as an autobiographical fragment detailing his childhood experiences in West Auckland.
Rachel Barrowman’s biography Maurice Gee: Life and Work was released in July 2015 by Victoria University Press, and has since received acclaim for its detailed portrait of the historically private author. In a review, Siobhan Harvey noted that the biographer ‘authoritatively examines [her] subject's life, output and creative practice’. Delving into subjects surrounding Gee that were previously untouched- such as the sexual repression within his works – the biography allows the reader a deeper insight into the man behind the writer. Gee says of the work: ‘This [biography] has no holes except for those Rachel has uncovered in her research and looked into with a clear eye. The research has been thorough, unrelenting, illuminating — illuminating even for me.’
Maurice Gee currently resides in Nelson.
Last updated April 2016.
- Watch the Book Council's Going West short animated film based on Maurice Gee's classic book
- Maurice Gee’s bibliography in the Auckland University Library's New Zealand Literature File
- Maurice Gee’s profile as an Arts Foundation Icon Artist
- Maurice Gee on the Christchurch City Libraries Interviews with NZ Childrens Authors site
- Maurice Gee's NZ On Screen profile