Dennis McEldowney

1926–2003; Editor, critic, author, publisher.

Dennis with Allen Curnow: Nigel Gardiner

Dr (Richard) Dennis McEldowney was a well-known editor, critic and author, widely admired for his beautiful writing. Born a ‘blue baby’ in 1926, he remained an invalid until his mid-twenties when he undertook newly developed heart surgery at Green Lane Hospital. In 1960, he had totally corrective surgery and moved out into the world as an editor and publisher. He retired as Managing Editor of Auckland University Press in 1986, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Auckland.

His classic autobiography, The World Regained, which recalls his restricted childhood, life-saving surgery and the consequent discovery of a wide new world, won the Hubert Church Memorial Prize. He followed this with Shaking the Bee Tree, a moving account of his unique marriage to Zoe Greenhough, also a ‘blue baby’ who underwent major corrective surgery. Other books include his edited edition of E. H. McCormick’s writing, An Absurd Ambition and A Press Achieved: The Emergence of Auckland University Press, 1927–1972. He contributed the chapter on publishing, patronage and literary magazines to the Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English and wrote many respected reviews, commentaries and pieces of criticism for radio and print.