Elizabeth Knox

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Elizabeth Knox
Elizabeth Knox in October 2012.
Elizabeth Knox in October 2012.
Born (1959-02-15) 15 February 1959 (age 59)
Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation Writer
Nationality New Zealander
Period 1987–
Notable works The Vintner's Luck
Spouse Fergus Barrowman
Children 1

Elizabeth Fiona Knox, ONZM, (born 15 February 1959 in Wellington, New Zealand) is an award-winning New Zealand writer. She has authored eleven novels, three autobiographical novella, and a collection of essays. Her best known works are The Vintner's Luck, which won several awards, has been published in nine languages,[1] and has been made into a film of the same name by Niki Caro, and The Dreamhunter Duet, a literary fantasy series for teen readers. Her most recent novel was Mortal Fire, published in 2013, which has won several awards.


Elizabeth and her two sisters were born and raised by atheist parents in a household where religion was often debated.[2] They spent their childhood living in various small towns in New Zealand, including Pomare, Wadestown, Waikanae and Paremata.[1] She later published a trilogy of novels that were influenced by her childhood experiences of living near Wellington.[3] Knox had difficulties with writing when she was young because she was slightly dyslexic.[2]

Knox had always enjoyed inventing stories as a child. When she was eleven she created an oral narrative history with her younger sister Sara and its characters and plot evolved based on their input along with the input of their older sister Mary and their friend Carol.[4] It became an elaborate paracosm with many characters and intricate plotlines and involvements. When she was sixteen Knox's father overheard a discussion between her, her sisters and Carol regarding the consequences of a secret treaty set in their imaginary world and he remarked that he hoped they were writing this down.[1] Following this they all tried "writing stories about, letters between, and poems by their characters"[4] and Knox enjoyed it so much that she decided she would like to be a writer.[5]

Writing career[edit]

In 1983, when Knox was 24, she started a degree in English Literature at Victoria University of Wellington. A year later, she started work on After Z-Hour in Bill Manhire's Original Composition course at Victoria.[1] The novel was inspired by a memory she had of when was eleven and fell from a walnut tree on ANZAC Day. In hospital she overheard a conversation between an old man and her father about Passchendaele and life on the Salient in 1917.[6] Bill Manhire encouraged her to write her novel, and told her he would be more interested in seeing her complete it, than her degree. After Z-Hour was published in 1987 by Victoria University Press and Knox graduated from Victoria University of Wellington the same year. She was also awarded the ICI Young Writers Bursary award that year.[1]

In 1988 Fergus Barrowman, Nigel Cox, Knox, and Damien Wilkins, with the help of Bill Manhire, Alan Preston and Andrew Mason, co-founded the literary journal Sport.[7] Knox was one of its editors and has also been a frequent contributor to the magazine.[3]

Since 1997 Knox has been a full-time writer.[1] She won the Victoria University of Wellington Writing Scholarship the same year.[3] Her novel The Vintner's Luck was published in 1998. It chronicles the life of a peasant winemaker, Sobran Jodeau, and his relationship with the fallen angel Xas, which begins in 1808 in Burgundy, France, and spans 55 years. The novel was inspired by what she saw in a feverish dream when she had pneumonia.[8] The Vintner's Luck won Knox widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards and it also raised her profile both within New Zealand and beyond.[3]

After The Vintner's Luck Knox published three more novels. Between 2005 and 2007 her first young adult series, The Dreamhunter Duet, was published. It was described as a "Mansfield-meets-Mahy fantasy" and once again Knox was praised for her audacious imagination and ingeniously constructed tales.[9]

In 2009 the movie adaptation of Knox's The Vintner's Luck directed and co-written by Niki Caro was released. The film was almost universally panned at the 34th Annual Toronto International Film Festival.[10] Knox was disappointed at the direction the movie took as she felt Niki Caro "took out what the book was actually about", referring to the romantic relationship between Sobran and Xas which was a core aspect of the novel.[11] Her sister, Sara Knox, who is gay, was also upset about the film version.[12] Knox's bad experience with the film made her pull out of a potential film contract[2] with NZ filmmaker Jonathan King[13] for her young adult fantasy series, the Dreamhunter Duet.

Knox's most recent works are The Angel's Cut, a sequel to The Vintner's Luck, which follows the tale of Xas after the events of the first book and is set in 1930s Hollywood, Mortal Fire, another Southland book for young adults and Wake.


  • After Z-Hour (1987)
  • Paremata (1989)
  • Treasure (1992)
  • Pomare (1994)
  • Glamour and the Sea (1996)
  • Tawa (1998)
  • The Vintner's Luck (1998)
  • The High Jump (2000)
  • Black Oxen (2001)
  • Billie's Kiss (2002)
  • Daylight (2003)
  • Dreamhunter (Book 1 of the Dreamhunter Duet) (2005)
  • Dreamquake (Book 2 of the Dreamhunter Duet) (2007)
  • The Love School (essays) (2008)
  • "The Invisible Road" (2008)
  • The Angel's Cut (Sequel to The Vintner's Luck)(2009)
  • Mortal Fire (2013)
  • Wake (2013)


Personal life[edit]

Currently Knox lives in Kelburn, Wellington and is married to Fergus Barrowman, a publisher at Victoria University Press. They have a son Jack Barrowman.[29]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Elizabeth Knox". Macmillan Books. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Noonan, Kathleen (30 October 2009). "Year of hell for writer Elizabeth Knox". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Elizabeth Knox". The Oxford Companion To New Zealand Literature. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  4. ^ a b Knox, Elizabeth (1988). "Origins, Authority and Imaginary Games". Sport. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  5. ^ Knox, Elizabeth (2002). "Starling". Sport. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  6. ^ Knox, Elizabeth (2000). "On Being Picked Up". Sport. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  7. ^ "About Sport". Sport. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  8. ^ Wichtel, Diana (19 September 2009). "A Pilgrim's Progress". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  9. ^ Gracewood, Jolisa (10 February 2007). "Book of Revelations". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  10. ^ Davison, Isaac (16 September 2009). "Vintner's Luck movie gets critical panning". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
  11. ^ Fitzsimons, Tom (19 October 2009). "Author cried over Vintner's Luck film". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  12. ^ Broun, Britton; Chapman, Katie (20 October 2009). "Gay romance gloss-over upsets author's sister". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  13. ^ Hunter, Kathy (20 October 2005). "Elizabeth Knox interview". LeafSalon. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  14. ^ a b "Elizabeth Knox". The Oxford Companion To New Zealand Literature. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Writer in Residence". Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  16. ^ "Mansfield Prize Fellows". Mansfield Prize. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  17. ^ a b "New Zealand Book Awards – Winners 1999". Booksellers. Archived from the original on 19 January 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  18. ^ "Orange 1999 Longlist". Orange. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  19. ^ "Laureate Awards". The Arts Foundation. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  20. ^ "New Zealand Honours". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  21. ^ "New Zealand Book Awards – Winners 2002". Booksellers. Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  22. ^ "Montana New Zealand Book Awards". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  23. ^ "LIANZA Children's Book Awards". LIANZA. Retrieved 6 April 2010.[dead link]
  24. ^ "White Ravens: 2006". International Children's Digital Library. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  25. ^ "2007 BBYA List with Annotations". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 13 February 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  26. ^ "Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  27. ^ "2008 BBYA List with Annotations". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  28. ^ "Sir Julius Vogel Award Results – 2009". Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  29. ^ "Elizabeth Knox". Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved 6 April 2010.

External links[edit]