By Eric H. McCormick
Eric McCormick was once, from approximately 1940 until eventually his loss of life in 1995, one among New Zealand's such a lot extraordinary writers and students. He pioneered the appreciation and learn of the painter Francis Hodgkins, and he wrote a number of biographies. The autobiographical fragments gathered right here were edited to make a coherent quantity, tracing his origins in Taihape, to varsity and collage in Wellington, to schoolteaching in Nelson, to Cambridge and during his wartime reports and position as editor of Centennial guides. It comprises his smart observations of social behaviour, recorded with a dry wit.
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But for all his exalted origins he made his living as a builder. His wife was probably, though not certainly, an Englishwoman and in some unexplained fashion they appear to have met and married in Cape Town. Finding the heat excessive, legend asserts, they moved on to Australia. That country was also too hot, so they left for New Zealand. There, presumably, the climate was just right. Or it may have been that they had exhausted their resources and could voyage no farther. They settled in Christchurch and reared eighteen children of whom my mother, born in 1878, was the last but one.
His books of verse — among them a complete Longfellow, a paper-covered copy of Barrack-Room Ballads, Arthur H. Adams’s Maoriland (another present from Auntie Emma) — meant little to me. A one-volume Shakespeare yielded even less, though I was fascinated by the name Cleopatra (which I mispronounced Clepatora) and recollect my pleasure in finding Lambs’ Tales (partly, no doubt, because of the title). Not surprisingly, I could make nothing of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Rights of Women nor of Cruden’s Concordance nor of an ancient encyclopaedia.
After he had come to an understanding and acceptance of his nature, in his years in Dunedin and Wellington, he did live for a time with lovers, but he remained reticent about these to the end, believing that while he wished to be frank about himself he had no licence to be so about his partners, some of whom later married and had children. After he took up residence in the bach there were no more live-in partners, possibly because Myra (who accepted his homosexuality without apparent approval or disapproval) would not have welcomed a third person on to what was, after all, her property; but also because of his fear of entanglements coming between himself and his work.
An Absurd Ambition by Eric H. McCormick