Diana Moorhead seems to have little information available about her and so far as I am aware has never attended SF conventions in New Zealand, which is a pity as her work is excellent. Born in 1940 in Woking, England, she moved to New Zealand at twelve, where she attended Waihi College and Auckland University. She married a teacher, has two children, and later became Community Librarian at Glenfield. Her first children’s book, In Search of Magic (1971), was set solidly in New Zealand although it was published by Brockhampton Press in the UK. It followed the adventures of an English fairy family who travel north from Wellington, seeking the indigenous fairy folk.

The book of Moorhead’s that I have is The Green and the White. A first edition hardcover which I purchased around the mid-70s from Whitcoulls in Lambton Quay. This was probably sold as YA, but the story stands up well for an adult, and even after 35+ years the work remains very readable.

Jochim is King of Verdantis, he has been thrust into the position early by the accidental death of his predecessor, and it’s unfortunate that he’s been landed not only with the crown and vast responsibility, but also with a possible wife he would have been happy to wait for as well, and now, to add to it all, there is trouble in the kingdom and he’s expected to fix that too. Princess Elise isn’t pleased about it either. Not initially anyhow, until she finds that there’s a place for her and work that she can do. Not the usual work, not when she’s sneaking about dressed as a boy, with her hair chopped off, travelling across Verdantis with Jochim to meet the terrible Shrinn and find out why Verdantis is being ruined by blight. This book says a lot about taught or unconscious prejudice and the danger of making assumptions from them. It’s short, I’d estimate around 30,000 words, but it contains an attractive map, (and frontispiece) by the renowned Victor Ambrus who illustrated so many wonderful children’s and YA books over the second half of the 1900s.

Moorhead’s third book, Gull Man’s Glory (1976), illustrated by Sam Thompson, is also set in a fantasy world where the characters must challenge a corrupt power that threatens to destroy the land. Gull Man’s Glory has been described as strikingly original in its setting after a future nuclear disaster has produced strange forms of life, particularly gull people with wings.Sadly after the publication of her third book Moorhead seems to have stopped writing fiction but copies of her three books are still available on various sites such as Book Depository. The first book was for younger children but I would recommend The Green and the White and I hope to obtain a copy of Gull Man’s Glory sometime soon.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for that information Lyn. I’ve added Diana to the SFFANZ list of NZ authors.


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