Friday, May 22, 2009

An Early Prize

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:


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.

No comments: