The New Zealand writer Jane Mander (1877-1949) lived abroad for twenty years, first in New York, then in London. During this period she published six novels. When she returned to her homeland in October 1932, she hoped to devote her attention to further books. Instead, she became principal caregiver to her elderly, demanding father (who lived to be ninety-five) and was obliged, having no other income, to take on a strenuous workload of magazine articles, book reviews and radio talks. Auckland Public Library in Wellesley Street was a refuge for her. Sometimes she was even granted a little back room in which to work on her journalistic tasks. One of the librarians of the 1930s, Maud Graham (nee Ballantyne), who knew Mander well, supplied a vivid verbal portrait to Mander's biographer Dorothea Turner: ‘I both liked and admired her. She was ill, angry and unsocial - frustrated, desperate for someone of her own mental calibre. She had no inhibitions. What she felt she expressed. Beautiful clean cut face and head, sharp and full of attack. Like a seagull - her voice too was harsh and complaining. A bird left behind when the flock migrated?’
In March 1937 Mander gave hand-corrected typescripts of four of her novels - The strange attraction (1922), Allen Adair (1925), The besieging city (1926) and Pins and pinnacles (1928) - to the Library. The first two of these are set in Northland, where Mander grew up in various timber-milling communities. The besieging city has a New York setting. Pins and pinnacles is set in London and Paris. At the same time, Mander also donated copies of the first edition of her earliest and most famous novel, The story of a New Zealand river (1920).
In the early 1970s Dorothea Turner arranged donations of personal papers, travel documents, radio talks and newspaper and magazine clippings (including otherwise hard-to-locate short stories) to the Library from Mander's sister, Amy Cross. The photograph of Mander shown here is taken from a French ‘passeporte ŕ étranger’ issued for a trip to Tours in 1914.