Writer and publisher Dennis McEldowney was born in Wanganui and grew up in Christchurch. A congenital heart condition kept him an invalid until the age of 24, and was the subject of his first and best-known book, The World Regained, which won the 1958 Hubert Church Memorial Prize for prose. In 1966, McEldowney entered publishing as the first editor of Auckland University Press, becoming managing editor from 1972 until his retirement, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university.
FROM THE oxford companion TO new zealand literature
McEldowney, Dennis (1926-2003), writer and publisher, was born in Wanganui and grew up in Christchurch. A congenital heart condition (he was a ‘blue baby’) kept him an invalid until the age of 24. An account of his medical adventures formed the subject of his first and probably best-known book, The World Regained (1957, 1976), which won the 1958 Hubert Church Memorial Prize for prose.
Educated by the Correspondence School, McEldowney was a freelance writer until he took a clerical job at the School of Physical Education in Dunedin, 1963–66. A diary of these Dunedin years was published as Full of the Warm South (1983). In 1966 he entered publishing as the first editor of Auckland University Press, becoming managing editor from 1972 until his retirement in 1986, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university.
Then and There: a 1970s diary (1995) focused primarily on his activities as a publisher and on the Auckland scene. Most of his other books are either biographical or autobiographical in impulse. They include Donald Anderson, A Memoir (1966), about the brilliant but severely disabled young scholar; Arguing with my Grandmother (1973); and Frank Sargeson in His Time, a short illustrated account (1976). Shaking the Bee Tree (1992) is his life with his wife Zoe Greenhough, also a ‘blue baby’, who died in 1990. He also edited Presbyterians in Aotearoa: 1840–1990 (1990) and An Absurd Ambition: Autobiographical Writings: E.H. McCormick (1996).
McEldowney contributed the chapter on publishing, patronage and literary magazines in the OHNZLE (1991, 1998) and has written reviews, commentaries and criticism for radio and many periodicals.
Author entry from The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature,
edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (1998).
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A Press Achieved: the Emergence of Auckland University Press was published in 2001, and in the same year McEldowney's first book, The World Regained, was reissued with new introduction, notes and illustrations.
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