Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another birthday


Portrait of Michael King (1987)

Woollaston, Mountford Tosswill (Sir)

Reference Number: G-709-1

National Library of New Zealand


Year after year the birthdays return, even after our loved ones die. Today marks the birthday of Janet Frame's friend and biographer the late Michael King, historian, journalist and independent scholar. He would have been 68 years old. During the years that he was researching and writing Janet Frame's biography - and afterwards - Michael became a familiar and loved presence in the Frame/Gordon family circle. His tragic death in 2004 along with his wife Maria in a fiery car accident, only two months after Janet had died of leukemia, was a shocking blow to everyone, to the whole country. 

A birthday or an anniversary is a good time to consider the life and the relationships and the achievements of the person we remember. I have a lot to remember Michael by - all those fine books, the TV programmes, our correspondence and his archives - and even the last email he sent me, just as he was about to leave the house on the day he died. But today I recalled that he had inscribed some of his books for me so I had a look at a couple of them, and thought I'd share a couple of those pages with you, gentle blog readers.

The dead have worn out my grief.
I gave it to them to wear,
renewing it year after year
nor was I the sole supplier.

~ Janet Frame (from 'The Dead' in The Goose Bath, 2006)

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