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Mahy, with her characteristic rainbow wig,
at the Kaiapoi Club, July 2011
21 March 1936|
Whakatane, New Zealand
|Died||23 July 2012
Christchurch, New Zealand
|Genres||Children's picture books, supernatural fiction|
|Notable award(s)||Carnegie Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing
Margaret Mahy, ONZ (21 March 1936 – 23 July 2012) was a New Zealand author of children's and young adult books. Many of her story plots have strong supernatural elements but her writing concentrates on the themes of human relationships and growing up. She wrote more than 100 picture books, 40 novels and 20 collections of short stories. At her death she was one of thirty writers to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, for her "lasting contribution to children's literature".
Mahy won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject, both for The Haunting (1982) and for The Changeover (1984). (As of 2012 seven writers have won two Carnegies, none three.) She was also a highly commended runner up for Memory (1987).[a]
Among her children's books, A Lion in the Meadow and The Seven Chinese Brothers and The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate are considered national classics. Her novels have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Catalan and Afrikaans. In addition, some stories have been translated into Russian, Chinese and Icelandic.
Early life 
Mahy was born in 1936, the eldest of five children. She was raised in her birthplace of Whakatane. Her father was a bridge builder and often told his children adventure stories which later influenced Mahy's writing. Her mother was a teacher. Her first published story was "Harry is Bad", written at age seven. She showed it to her class to let them know that they could write stories at any age.
Mahy completed her B.A. at Auckland University College (1952–1954) and Canterbury University College, graduating in 1955. In 1956 she trained at the New Zealand Library School, Wellington as a librarian.
She worked as a librarian in Petone, the School Library Service in Christchurch, and in 1976 was appointed Children's Librarian at Canterbury Public Library. During this time many of her stories were published in the New Zealand Department of Education School Journal and her first book saw her become known internationally. A Lion in the Meadow was a School Journal story from 1965. It was published in 1969 by J.M. Dent in the U.K. and Franklin Watts in the U.S., as a large-format picture book illustrated by Jenny Williams. Also in 1969, William Heinemann Ltd and Watts published another large-format picture book, The Dragon of an Ordinary Family with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury, who won the Greenaway Medal from the British librarians recognising the year's best illustrated children's book. There were three others in that same year.[b]
Mahy became a full-time writer in 1980 and went on to win numerous book awards and honours for her contributions to New Zealand and to children's literature. One was an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Canterbury. In 1985 she established the Margaret Mahy Fees Scholarship at the University of Canterbury.
For her contributions to children's literature she was made a member of the Order of New Zealand. The Margaret Mahy Medal Award was established by the New Zealand Children's Book Foundation in 1991 to provide recognition of excellence in children's literature, publishing and literacy in New Zealand. In March 2009 she was commemorated as one of the Twelve Local Heroes and a bronze bust of her was unveiled outside the Christchurch Arts Centre.
In 2010 a television series of her book Kaitangata Twitch aired on Maori Television. Directed by Yvonne Mackay and produced by The Production Shed.TV, the series includes a cameo appearance by Margaret Mahy in a library scene.
Personal life 
Mahy died in Christchurch on 23 July 2012, aged 76. She had been diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous jaw tumour in April 2012 and had been moved to a hospice about nine days before her death.
In 2006, Margaret Mahy won the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing, in recognition of her lifetime contribution to children's literature. In a press release announcing the award, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) said:
In awarding the 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Writing to Margaret Mahy, the jury has recognized one of the world's most original re-inventors of language. Mahy's language is rich in poetic imagery, magic, and supernatural elements. Her oeuvre provides a vast, numinous, but intensely personal metaphorical arena for the expression and experience of childhood and adolescence. Equally important, however, are her rhymes and poems for children. Mahy's works are known to children and young adults all over the world.—Jeffrey Garrett, IBBY Announces the Winners of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2006.
The Margaret Mahy Award, named for Mahy, is presented annually to "a person who has made a significant contribution to the broad field of children's literature and literacy". Mahy was the first recipient of the award in 1991. Lectures by the winners are published, the standard of which was set by Mahy's inaugural lecture, Surprising Moments.
Other awards of Mahy's include:
- Italian Premier Grafico Award, The Wind Between the Stars, 1976. 
- Dutch Silver Pencil Award, The Boy Who Was Followed Home, 1977 . 
- New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, Best Young Adult Novel, 2003, Alchemy
- Phoenix Award, 2005, The Catalogue of the Universe (1985)
- Phoenix Award runner-up (Honor Book), 2006, The Tricksters
- Sir Julius Vogel Award, 2006, for services to New Zealand science fiction and fantasy
- Phoenix Award, 2007, Memory
- New Zealand Post, Children's Book of the Year, 2011, The Moon and Farmer McPhee
The Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association designates the best English-language children's book that did not a major award when it was originally published twenty years earlier. It is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the book's rise from obscurity. Mahy is one of three authors to win it twice (1985 to 2012).
Mahy wrote more than 100 picture books, 40 novels and 20 collections of short stories.
See also 
- Today there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. CCSU lists 32 "Highly Commended" runners up from 1966 to 2002 but only three before 1979 when the distinction became approximately annual. From 1979 there were 29 "HC" books in 24 years including Mahy alone in 1987.
- U.S. Library of Congress catalogue records cover ten 1969 books written by Mahy, all evidently large-format picture books (22/23cm x 28/29cm, 26pp to 42pp). They are the British and American editions of five titles with five illustrators and three British publishers, all published by Watts in the U.S.
- "Hans Christian Andersen Awards" (top page). International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- (Carnegie Winner 1982). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- (Carnegie Winner 1984). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Author Margaret Mahy dead at 76". nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Samdog Design Ltd. "New Zealand Book Council Biography". Bookcouncil.org.nz. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "Biography of Margaret Mahy". Library.christchurch.org.nz. 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- The 1965 version, with pictures by Jill McDonald, may have been separately published in a School Journal series by the Department of Education.
"Formats and Editions of The lion in the meadow". WorldCat. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Penguin Books biography". Penguin.ca. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "Undergraduate scholarships at Canterbury". Canterbury.ac.nz. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- Hartevelt, John (19 March 2009). "Creative mistake for a creative writer". The Press. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- "Margaret Mahy, renowned NZ children's author, dies". TVNZ. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "Children's author Mahy dies at 76". 24 July 2012.
- Dastgheib, Shabnam (24 July 2012). "Rush on Margaret Mahy books". The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand: Fairfax New Zealand). ISSN 1175-9488. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
- Flood, Alison (23 July 2012). "Children's author Margaret Mahy dies aged 76". The Guardian (Manchester, UK). ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Children's author Mahy dies at 76". BBC News (London: British Broadcasting Corporation). 24 July 2012. OCLC 33057671. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Garrett, Jeffrey (27 March 2006). "IBBY Announces the Winners of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2006" (Press release). Zurich, Switzerland: International Board on Books for Young People. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
- "Margaret Mahy Award". Storylines.org.nz. Auckland, New Zealand: Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Margaret Mahy Medal Award". Christchurch, New Zealand: Christchurch City Libraries. 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Book award named after author Mahy". 3 News NZ. 29 April 2013.
- Bateman,D. 2005. Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition. David Bateman Ltd. p.407.
- Bateman,D. 2005. Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition. David Bateman Ltd. p.407.
- "Winners of Young Adult Fiction of New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards". Library.christchurch.org.nz. 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012". Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
See also the current homepage "Phoenix Award".
- "Sir Julius Vogel Awards". sffanz.org.nz. 2012 [last update]. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
- "New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards Winners 2011 | Booksellers New Zealand". Booksellers.co.nz. 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Mahy bibliography at fantasticfiction". Fantasticfiction.co.uk. 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
Further reading 
- "Introducing Margaret Mahy". Betty Gilderdale. Viking Kestrel 1987. ISBN 0-670-81518-7
|About Margaret Mahy|
|By Margaret Mahy|
- Media related to Margaret Mahy at Wikimedia Commons
- The Margaret Mahy pages from Christchurch City Libraries
- Margaret Mahy biography, selected bibliography, and awards list, at the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust website
- Margaret Mahy biography, partial screenography, and free streamed videos of Mahy's television work, at NZ On Screen
- Mahy, Margaret, with a biography, short descriptions of many of her books, and other information, at the New Zealand Book Council website.
- Margaret Mahy at the Internet Movie Database
- Kaitangata Twitch website
- Margaret Mahy at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database