John A. Lee, 1891–1982


  • James Smithies



John A. Lee stood squarely at the intersection between literature and politics, although it is clear that he owed his strongest allegiance to the latter. For Lee, literature was the most efficient means by which he could connect with a broad cross-section of the New Zealand public and press his social vision to both the working-classes and the middle-class supporters of the Labour party who were demanding a less radical version of the welfare state than he entertained. A producer of voluminous quantities of prose, and a noted orator, Lee came to intellectual maturity between 1914 and 1945, when New Zealand culture was confronted with the harsh realities of global conflict and political unrest, and although it would be inaccurate to suggest that he gained mastery over either of his chosen fields, he remains one of the most important literary and political figures of early twentieth-century New Zealand.


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Author Biography

James Smithies