Friday, May 22, 2009
Above is the bookplate of one of Janet Frame's early prizes. Her achievement? To have attained third place in her class, in Form IIIA. The year was 1937, and Janet was 13 years old. She had scored first in French, second in English, Geography, History and Mathematics, and third in Algebra.
At that time, Janet was referred to as "Jean" at school but you can see that she has inscribed her actual name "Janet P. Frame" above the "Jean Frame" written by the Principal Jessie Banks Wilson.
The prize volume was an inspired and doubtless an inspiring choice:
BOYS & GIRLS WHO BECAME FAMOUS
Chapter 12 describes Charlotte Brontë's childhood and this is likely to be the first encounter Janet Frame and her sisters had with the story of the Brontë family. In her essay 'Beginnings' Janet Frame says she and her sisters would occasionally draw "a grandiose dramatic parallel" between their lives and that of the Brontës. Janet lived to regret having made public that fanciful comparison, and felt that it was later made too much of by commentators on her life.
I had the pleasure recently to loan this book, along with a couple of other artifacts formerly belonging to Janet Frame (her father's bagpipe chanter and the amber cut glass bowl her mother used for serving fruit jellies) to Oamaru's North Otago Museum. The museum plans to exhibit these items as part of an upgrade of their Janet Frame display cabinet.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Janet Frame was a keen scrabble player. I came across her travel scrabble set recently. This particular "solution" seems to have a bird theme.
I noticed an "r" was misplaced - perhaps it fell out in transit and was was just put back in anywheres. Or perhaps the losing party had the "r" in their hand at the end of the game. Or was this a solitaire effort?
I remember many lively scrabble games with Janet as one of the players. She wasn't the only strong player in the family by any means so the games were lively, often raucous, and full of challenges as to the meanings and legitimacy of the various unusual words on offer.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Giving stuff away. Makes a nice change from the routine but constant slog of running a literary estate.
I had some spare copies of some of Janet Frame's translated editions in stock, and remembering the visit last year to the Oamaru Library to celebrate the opening of their special Janet Frame cabinet, I asked the librarians if they'd fancy having some of the foreign editions.
Of course they would! So here I am above, courtesy of the local Oamaru paper, pictured with Jean Rivett (community services librarian) handing 40 books over to the Oamaru Library's Janet Frame collection.
From memory the languages included Italian, Polish, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Spanish, Japanese. Titles included Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun, The Lagoon, Living in the Maniototo, the Autobiography, Intensive Care, Owls Do Cry, Faces in the Water.
Oamaru has a steady stream of overseas Frame fans following the Janet Frame trail - especially to visit the house at 56 Eden Street now that it is open to the public, but many visitors also go the Library and the Museum and other Frame haunts, so it will be a nice surprise for some of the tourists to encounter her books in their own languages.
For the locals it is an insight into the international appeal of the writings of their famous fellow Oamaruvian.