Canterbury poet’s letters added to NZ heritage collection
A collection of artworks, personal papers and more than 1200 letters written to Canterbury poet and artist Ursula Bethell will be the sole item added to a UNESCO heritage register this year.
Ursula Bethell in her garden, Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury.
Bethell (1874-1945) is recognised as one of New Zealand’s most significant and influential poets. She was a pivotal figure in the Christchurch arts community and a friend and mentor to many of the artistic and literary figures of the day. Her correspondents include Charles Brasch, Allen Curnow, Denis Glover, and Dame Ngaio Marsh.
Along with letters and artworks painted by Bethell, the collection includes photographs, manuscripts of well-known published works including her best-known work, From a Garden in the Antipodes, as well as press reviews and contracts.
Bethell, who initially published under the pseudonym Evelyn Hayes, returned to New Zealand in 1924 with her companion Effie Pollen. They lived at Rise Cottage on the Cashmere Hills until Pollen’s sudden death in 1934.
University of Canterbury Librarian Anne Scott says the collection spans the years 1890 to 1945, a period of rapid transformation in New Zealand’s cultural history.