The Butcher Shop

Jean Devanny, edited and introduced by Heather Roberts

The Butcher Shop first appeared in 1926. Despite big overseas sales it was banned in New Zealand and later Australia for being disgusting, indecent and communistic – in other words, for promoting revolutionary ideas about the role of women and for a bold portrayal of the brutality of farm life. On one level the novel is a fast-paced account of how passion and jealousy destroy the lives of a rich and cultured farming family; on another it is a fierce polemic for the freedom of women, which in its frankness was years ahead of its time.


The author, born in 1894, the daughter of a South Island coalminer, was a lifelong socialist and feminist. She upheld these views courageously and in public both in her own country and in Australia, where she settled in 1929 and where she lived and wrote until her death in 1962.

This edition has a perceptive introduction by Dr Heather Roberts, who at the time of publication was Women’s Employment officer at the head office of the department of Labour in Wellington, and a note by Bill Pearson on the banning of The Butcher Shop.



Jean Devanny, novelist of new Zealand and later of Australia, wrote a number of forceful and often vivid novels which have been long neglected. Her work is comparable with that of Katharine Susannah Prichard, the Australian-born writer, though much less well known.


March 1981, 210 x 135 mm, 242 pages
Paperback, ISBN 9780196480015, $34.99