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Author of the Week: August 24 – August 31

August 24, 2009


Lynley Hood

Hood, Lynley (1942 –) is a freelance writer and biographer.

Lynley Hood was born in Hamilton. In 1961 she moved to Dunedin where she completed an MSc in Physiology. Hood worked in medical research until the birth of her first child. In 1979 she became a freelance writer.

Hood’s first book, Sylvia! The Biography of Sylvia Ashton-Warner (1990) won first prize at the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Award in 1989, the PEN Best First Book of Prose Award in 1989 and the Talking Book of the Year in 1990.

Writing in Metro, Michael King celebrates the biography as, ‘Like all first-rate biographies, Sylvia! tells us a great deal more than Ashton-Warner – about the business of life itself, its promises, its anxieties, its ultimate disappointment. I cannot recommend it too highly.’

Hood’s next two books were Who is Sylvia? The Diary of a Biography (1990) and Minnie Dean: Her Life & Crimes (1994). The latter was a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards in 1995.

CityIn 2001 Hood published the popular, controversial and award-winning A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case. A City Possessed was the History Winner, Readers’ Choice Award and won the Montana Medal for Non-fiction at the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. The book also won the Skeptic New Zealand Bravo Award in 2002.

In the New Zealand Law Journal Ian Freckelton writes, ‘A City Possessed is a gripping and controversial analysis of a legal and social phenomenon that has the potential to confront us all … Hood’s courage in robustly presenting her version of the tale and in seeking to learn from it should inspire all of us to reflect soberly and thoughtfully about how child protection, criminal investigation and legal procedures can be improved.’ Writing in New Zealand Books Greg Newbold declares, ‘The result is nothing less than outstanding; an encyclopaedic work of professorial quality … deep, detailed, insightful and comprehensive.’

In 2003 Hood earned a LittD from Otago University. The degree was not honorary; instead it was earned for ‘published contributions of special excellence in linguistic, literary, social or historical knowledge’. When recommending that the degree be conferred an external examiner described A City Possessed as, ‘unquestionably an outstanding piece of research work of substantial national significance’.

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