Hawaiian literature

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Hawaiian literature has its origins in Polynesian mythology. It was originally preserved and expanded solely through oral traditions, as the ancient Hawaiians never developed a writing system.[1] Written literature in the Hawaiian language and literary works in other languages by authors resident in Hawaii did not appear until the nineteenth century, when the arrival of American missionaries introduced the English language, the Latin alphabet, and Western notions of composition to the kingdom.

The earliest compilations of traditional Hawaiian writing were made by John Papa ʻĪʻī, Samuel Kamakau, Kepelino Keauokalani, and David Malo.[2] They were succeeded by King Kalākaua, Martha Beckwith, Abraham Fornander, and William Drake Westervelt, all of whom produced later collections retelling or adapting Hawaii's oral histories.

Other noted authors whose works feature Hawaiian settings and themes, or who were temporarily resident in Hawaii, include Herman Melville,[3] Mark Twain,[4] Robert Louis Stevenson,[5] and Jack London.[6] Detective novelist Earl Derr Biggers is remembered chiefly for his books set in early twentieth century Honolulu, whose protagonist is Chinese-Hawaiian detective Charlie Chan.[7]

Hawaiian literature in the latter half of the twentieth century was characterized by both rapid growth and an increasing emphasis on realism, sometimes influenced by the Second Hawaiian Renaissance and the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.[1][8]

List of Hawaii authors[edit]

List of magazines[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dudoit, Mahealani (1999). "Against Extinction: A Legacy of Native Hawaiian Resistance Literature" (PDF). Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  2. ^ Bushnell, Oswald (1993). The Gifts of Civilization: Germs and Genocide in Hawaiʻi. University of Hawaii Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780824814571. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  3. ^ Forsythe, Robert (March 1935). "Herman Melville in Honolulu". The New England Quarterly. 8 (1): 99–105. doi:10.2307/359432. JSTOR 359432.
  4. ^ Mark Twain (1997). Edgar Marquess Branch (ed.). Mark Twain's Letters: 1872–1873. 5. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20822-3.
  5. ^ Staff report (June 20, 2012). "Historic Robert Louis Stevenson grass hut restored in Manoa". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  6. ^ London, Charmian (September 1917). "Jack London and Hawaii". Mills & Boon. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  7. ^ Gregorich, Barbara (March–April 2000). "Earl Derr Biggers: A brief life of a popular author". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  8. ^ Sumida, Stephen (1991). And the View from the Shore: Literary Traditions of Hawaiʻi. University of Washington Press. p. 238. ISBN 9780295803456. Retrieved 2014-01-24.