January 29, 2004 by

Janet Frame


Categories: Writers/Editors

jframe.jpgJanet Paterson Frame, a New Zealand author who was reportedly short-listed for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003, died on Jan. 29 from cancer. She was 79.
Frame studied at Dunedin Teachers’ Training College and Otago University, then taught for a year before quitting academia to pursue a career in writing. “University Entrance,” her first published short story, appeared in The Listener in 1946.
A year later, she suffered a breakdown and signed herself into the Seacliff Mental Hospital near Dunedin. The doctors wrongly diagnosed her as schizophrenic, and Frame spent the next eight years living in and out of psychiatric institutions and receiving more than 200 electric shock treatments to “cure” her. In 1952, Frame was saved from a scheduled lobotomy when a hospital superintendent learned that her short story collection, “The Lagoon and Other Stories,” had won the Hubert Church Memorial Award, New Zealand’s leading prize for fiction.
For the next three decades, Frame became a prolific writer. Her early work was heavily influenced by her experiences in mental hospitals, and led to the publication of the autobiographical trilogy: “To the Island,” “An Angel at My Table” and “The Envoy From Mirror City.” Her memoirs were also adapted into a 1990 feature film directed by Jane Campion.
Frame’s later work included novels, poetry and a children’s book. She won the 1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize for her book, “The Carpathians,” and was made an additional member of the Order of New Zealand in 1990.

12 Responses to Janet Frame

  1. Maureen

    I saw the film An Angel at My Table and it was really extremely interesting. I’m sorry that Janet is gone from us now. She had such an intriguing life.

  2. Maree Lien

    I am studying Janet’s brilliant short story, Insulation, and came across the news of her death while looking for different perspecitves on the story. She was absolutely one of the most perceptive and unique writers I have read, and we are greatly enriched by her generousity of spirit in having shared her stories with us. Thank you so much, Janet… may you rest in well earned peace.

  3. JUDY

    sad to hear of her death we are reading a story writen by her called you are entering the human heart. at college the story we’re doing it looks scary with the snake part but a very good story. Is it four pages long as i have here or is it longer? I think it’s a sad loss of a good writer and interesting she suffered mental Health I know what it’s like. Still we should not dwell on that part of her life, we should look at what she has acheived, So please pass on my thoughts to her family.
    Miss Judy Greenway

  4. Tina Gulotta

    Janet Frame’s passing seems too soon. Losing someone so brilliant and enigmatic as a writer makes the loss so much more. She exuded so much insight into life and its misfortunes and yet in the middle of these insights you could feel her feet tapping in glee as she rises above it all. I can’t wait to read her books.

  5. Derek

    A truly great artist and will be deeply missed. It makes you wonder whether the doctors and psychiatrists need treatment rather than the patients for committing such henious crimes as those that were commited against Janet.

  6. jess

    hey i juss wana say i got an opportunity 2 du a poster on ma fav short story and i decided 2 du it on ur book the lagoon:) ma fav thanks it meant alot 2 me:) love jess

  7. Gerard

    At first it was Ms. Frames titles which captivated me, odd and gripping….then I read a few of her works, and her gift for descriptive narrative just astounded….I regret not letting her know how much I admired her writing

  8. marionsadlier

    i have read the first part of janet frames autobiography, to the is land. I found her life absolutly fasinating. Janet frame is a beautiful and poetic writer whos writing is both graceful and fasinating. Janet will always be remembered and respected. I personaly adore her writing and find her and her life truely inspiring

  9. Josie Moyse

    I love Janet Frame’s words and imagary. I have read “Faces in the Water” and her autobiography and it is a shame that I have discovered her through coming across the movie of her life in a video shop rather than learning about her in school or through what should be our intelligent, modern society’s interest in great works of art as opposed to its morbid and voyeuristic curiosity in “celebrities”.
    Thankyou Janet for your incredible talent.
    May your writing survive the ages we have left.

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