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By Eric H. McCormick

ISBN-10: 1869407989

ISBN-13: 9781869407988

Eric McCormick used to be, from approximately 1940 till his dying in 1995, one among New Zealand's so much uncommon writers and students. He pioneered the appreciation and learn of the painter Francis Hodgkins, and he wrote a number of biographies. The autobiographical fragments accumulated the following were edited to make a coherent quantity, tracing his origins in Taihape, to college and college in Wellington, to schoolteaching in Nelson, to Cambridge and during his wartime studies and position as editor of Centennial courses. It contains his wise observations of social behaviour, recorded with a dry wit.

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Eric did, however, complete many short stories, also mostly set in Taihape. There is no evidence that he sought publication for these, but they were at least as good as most of those published in, say, Phoenix or Tomorrow. They lacked, however, the final spark that distinguished the early stories of Sargeson or Roderick Finlayson, whose superiority Eric was among the first to recognize. He continued to attempt fiction for many years after that, never to his own satisfaction; but he stumbled upon his true metier almost by accident, when Oliver Duff asked him to write Letters and Art in New Zealand in the centennial survey series.

With financial self-sacrifice little short of suicidal my parents sent me to boarding-school in Wellington. IV I don’t remember that I ever felt particularly close to Myra during our childhood. She was there, and that was about it. Perhaps the two years between us formed an unbridgeable gulf; perhaps we were too different in our temperaments and interests. I am certain she was ashamed that her younger brother was considered girlish and had a natural attraction for bullies. I was superficially brighter than she was.

ERIC MCCORMICK COLLECTION, ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY, P-AC 5030–027. Even with the more sedate growth which actually occurred, my father modestly prospered. In fact he might have merited a brief reference in Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help, a book he brought with him from the South Island. William James Hall McCormick was an Ulsterman, the second-youngest in a family of seven, born in the market town of Rathfryland where his father was an agent employed to collect the linen made by cottage weavers. Rathfryland has one claim to distinction.

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An Absurd Ambition by Eric H. McCormick


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