1 Feb 1901


Painter Frances Hodgkins leaves New Zealand for Europe. There she met another New Zealand expatriate - artist Dorothy Richmond. Hodgkins described her as "the dearest woman with the most beautiful face and expression. [Her] letters are poems. She is the dearest piece of perfection I have ever met, and unlike most perfection, not in the least tiring to live up to." The pair returned to New Zealand in 1903 and established a studio on Lambton Quay.

27 Aug 1901


"She is the dearest woman with the most beautiful face and expression I think I have ever seen." - Frances Hodgkins describing fellow artist Dorothy Richmond

9 Feb 1903


Writer James Courage is born on this day in Christchurch. He is credited with writing the first ever published gay novel by a New Zealander (A Way of Love in 1959). Courage grew up on the family farm near Amberley before attending boarding school - first at Mr Wiggins’s preparatory school and then Christ's College. It was here that he began writing an intimate diary - a journal that would span the rest of his life. After his death in 1963, the diaries were deposited with the Hocken Collections at the University of Otago and placed under an embargo. Access restrictions ended in 2005 and, as historian Chris Brickell puts it, "I rushed into Dunedin's Hocken Library to prise open the small leather notebooks and the loose-leaf pages tied up with ribbon." The diaries are full of entries on sexuality, relationships, literature, travel and the psychotherapeutic treatment Courage received later in life. Brickell subsequently published parts of the diaries and wrote about this significant New Zealander, "He was fearlessly brave, and paved the way for people like me to write about gay things."

23 Mar 1903


Writer Norris Frank Davey is born in Hamilton. He later changed his name to Frank Sargeson - in part to conceal a 1929 indecent assault conviction. Although he was able to conceal the conviction from many, biographer Michael King thought the event scarred Sargeson for life. Reflecting on the writer's legacy, King said his major achievement as an author was to "introduce the rhythms and idiom of everyday New Zealand speech to literature." Sargeson died on 1 March 1982.

28 Mar 1903


Playwright and medical practitioner Merton Hodge is born in Taruheru, Poverty Bay. Hodge studied at King's College in Auckland and then Otago Medical School. He moved to England in 1931 where he gained international success with his play The Wind and the Rain. An Australian newspaper wrote, "By day he works as an anaesthetist in a big hospital at Hyde Park Corner: at night he has been writing plays which are the success of the season." The Wind and the Rain ran for three years (1,001 performances) in London's West End, played for 6-months on Broadway in New York and was translated into nine languages. Hodge mingled in bohemian and theatrical circles while in the UK - partying with Ivor Novello, Tallulah Bankhead and Noel Coward. He also spent a lot of time with Geoffrey Wardwell, another actor, who researchers think was probably his lover. In 1952 Hodge returned to New Zealand, married and settled in Dunedin. Sadly, he took his own life 6-years later in 1958.

29 Nov 1906


Senior public servant and diplomat Alister McIntosh is born in Picton. In 1925 McIntosh entered the public service and went on to serve New Zealand in various roles for the next five decades. He founded this country's diplomatic service and headed the Prime Minister's Department for more than twenty-years. According to author Ian McGibbon "McIntosh never sought a high public profile... His sensitivity to others' problems and needs, his lack of bigotry and self-righteousness and his non-judgemental approach were endearing qualities." McIntosh lived in an era when careers (and lives) could be destroyed by an accusation of homosexuality. In 2003, historian Michael King suggested that McIntosh may have missed out on becoming Commonwealth Secretary-General because of his sexuality (British security officials warned that his homosexuality made him susceptible to blackmail and therefore a security risk).

17 Jun 1909


Anges Ottaway applies to get her marriage to Percival Redwood annulled. Redwood, a.k.a Amy Bock, had moved to New Zealand from Australia in the mid-1880s. Described by author Fiona Farrell as "New Zealand's most celebrated and energetic confidence trickster", Bock amassed a string of convictions over the next four decades. The most prominent was a "heartless trick" which took place in 1909. While holidaying in South Otago, Bock posing as wealthy farmer Percival Redwood, met Agnes Ottaway. Within a few weeks the couple were engaged and an elaborate wedding followed. However four days later Bock was arrested and charged with forgery and two counts of false pretences. The widely reported scandal saw Bock jailed and inspired the production of commercial postcards featuring Bock and the wedding cake.

20 Aug 1909


Artist and drama producer Rodney Kennedy is born in Dunedin. In 1926 he enrolled as a student at the Dunedin School of Art, and in 1932 he met artist Toss Woollaston. They became "lovers" or "lifelong friend[s]" or "close friend[s]" depending on the information source. After Woollaston moved to Nelson, Kennedy visited and spent his summers picking fruit and painting. Woollaston painted both his soon-to-be wife and Kennedy together in a 1936 portrait entitled Figures from Life. During World War II Kennedy refused military service and was imprisoned.