Templeton, Natasha

Templeton, Natasha

In Brief

Natasha Templeton is a novelist. Her first book is described as a fusion of New Zealand subject matter and themes with those elements key to the Russian novel. Templeton was born in Russia, and arrived in New Zealand in 1951. Reviews of her first book praise her integration of historical figures and events, as well as the compulsive quality of the narrative. Her second novel is specifically focused on the lives of Russian women during the Great Terror.

FROM THE OXFORD COMPANION TO NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE

Templeton, Natasha (1936– ), is author of the novel Firebird (1994), unique in its conscious fusion of the tradition of the Russian novel with New Zealand material and themes.

Born in Russia, she spent her childhood in Europe, arriving in New Zealand in 1951 and graduating BA at Victoria University College in 1956. She worked and trained as a broadcaster in New Zealand and London before marriage to diplomat and politician Hugh Templeton in 1961. On various postings she worked as broadcaster, writer and lecturer, graduating MA in Russian literature at Columbia University, New York, in 1964.

Reviews and short stories in the *NZ Listener preceded the novel. Firebird is an ambitious multiple narrative which connects New Zealand history and politics with the revelation of actual atrocities inflicted on the Red Army at the end of World War 2. New Zealander Major-General Sir Stephen Weir is fictionalised as General Mort Stirling, the key narratorial figure, while other historical figures appear under their own names (Freyberg, Montgomery) or in fictionalised form, such as Dan *Davin or Robert *Muldoon, critically presented as Howie ‘Piggy’ Hall. Reviews concurred in praising the historical grasp, compelling action narrative and humanitarian commitment, some with reservations about the romanticising of the enigmatic and passionate Nadezhda, the ‘Firebird’, as linking device. It was published in London, 1994, and New Zealand, 1995.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Templeton's second novel is Winter in the Summer Garden (Vintage, 1999).

Updated January 2017.