Anna Kavan Meets a New Zealand Writer on His Special Day


  • Jennifer Sturm



Anna Kavan, (1901-68) prolific English writer and painter, globetrotter extraordinaire, heroin addict, and friend of conscientious objector Ian Hamilton, lived on Auckland’s North Shore in 1941-42. Following an unhappy childhood and two failed marriages, she was a troubled woman, given to a prevailing sense of despair if not nihilism. Her fragile grip on sanity was sustained by her writing, ‘eliminating through ink’ as Cocteau has said. The author of five books by the time she met Hamilton, she went on to write a total of nineteen books, some published posthumously, and almost all autobiographically-based works of fiction. The couple forged a relationship in England in 1939, when Hamilton’s sister Margery began an affair with Kavan’s husband, Stuart Edmonds. They travelled together, initially to Norway, then New York and Mexico, finally stopping in La Jolla, California, where they spent some months before parting company, Hamilton journeying back to Aotearoa/ New Zealand and Kavan travelling with a new male companion to Indonesia. Several months later, by means of some convoluted global meandering through increasingly war-torn shipping routes Kavan found her way to Auckland where she set up house with Hamilton in Torbay, then the quasi-Bohemian and least inhabited of Auckland’s east coast bays.


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Author Biography

Jennifer Sturm