9 Feb 1903
JAMES COURAGE BORN
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."