Invercargill conference celebrates the work of Dan Davin


Writers and academics converged on Invercargill last weekend to celebrate the work of Southland author Dan Davin.

“Dan Davin is quite important in the short story scene in New Zealand. He was quite unique, in that his stories were semi-autobiographical,” said Rebecca Amundsen the chairwoman of The Dan Davin Literary Foundation.

“He mainly wrote about the life of Irish Catholic people in semi-provincial towns in New Zealand, so they’ve got good historical value, without being actual history,” Amundsen said.

Keynote speakers included literary scholar Janet Wilson, and writers Tracey Slaughter, Owen Marshall, and Dame Fiona Kidman.

Amundsen said the idea to the host the conference came as a suggestion from writer and former New Zealand Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan.

“He said to me there hasn’t been a conference on the New Zealand short story ever, he believed, and because we have the connection with Dan Davin, who’s quite renowned for his short stories, that we should be the ones to host it.”

Born in Invercargill in 1913, Davin spent most of his career in Oxford, where he first went after receiving a Rhodes Scholarship to the university in 1935.

In his fiction works, he wrote most often about New Zealand and also wrote the official history of New Zealand’s war in Crete (where he had served during World War II).

He died in 1990 in Oxford.


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