Keri Hulme on the Depiction of Women in The Bone People

Keri Hulme and Laurelyn Douglas '91

From a telephone interview with Keri Hulme conducted by Laurelyn Douglas '91.

LD: One of the things that had been commented on in an article by Elizabeth Webby, a professor in Australia, was that you had originally had trouble publishing the novel because they didn't think that it depicted women favorably enough. Is that right?

KH: Oh, yes. Yes it is. Marian Evans -- there were three women in the Spiral Collective, Spiral number five -- that formed to publish three books, not just mine specifically, but also a collection of poetry by a lesbian writer called Heather McPherson, and a collection of short stories by the first Maori writer ever to have a short story published, Jackie Stern. One of the women, Marian Evans -- all three of them are feminists, two of them are Maori and one it Pakeha -- but Marian carries her feminism to a degree of fervency and militancy that, you know, would put most people who like myself call themselves feminists to shame. Marian approached a large number of women's organizations in New Zealand, ranging from the radical to the very conservative and sedate, and was unable to get support from any of them as an entity. There were numerous private offers of contributions and support, but nobody was going to back it because Kerewin, they thought, was a little bit odd and didn't make the right noises, certainly not as a stereotypic New Zealand woman but also -- she wasn't sort of like a proper feminist either. She drank too much, for a kickoff.

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