Louise Wareham Leonard

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Louise Wareham Leonard (born Louise Wareham) is a New Zealand born American writer of British and Māori descent. She immigrated with her family to Sydney in 1971 and to New York City in 1977. Her books and writings concern family sexuality, sexual abuse, the interior lives of women and relationships between men and women. Set often in Manhattan, as well as New Zealand, they explore "the search for sanity" (Dame Fiona Kidman) in a world of "priapic narcissism" (Stout Scholar John Newton). She hosts the 2016 founded podcast 52 Men: Women Telling Stories about Men. She is a founding member of the New Zealand Academy of Literature and, as an American citizen, winner of the James Jones First Novel Award.

Early life[edit]

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Leonard immigrated to Sydney and then to New York City in 1977 with her family. She attended The Dalton School and The United Nations International School and graduated from Columbia College, New York, with a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society and top awards from the English Department. She has in MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.


Leonard was an intern reporter at age 15 in Manhattan, and a junior reporter at 17 and 18 at the capital city newspaper in New Zealand. At 18 she began working at TIME Magazine, where, at 20, she was an intern in the New York bureau.

As an adult, Leonard lived and worked in New York, Connecticut, Mississippi, Europe,the Caribbean and outback Western Australia. From ages 24 to 28, she wrote for'Yachting.' She left in 1992 as a Senior Editor.

She also worked for the Head of Investment Banking at Solomon Smith Barney, followed by Black Liberation Founder Reverend Professor James H Cone at the Union Theological Seminary and then at The Vermont Studio Center arts colony.

She was published in Poetry in 1995 with poems including 'Compulsion'. As written by the Creative Process, "Long before the Me Too movement... Louise has written about "survivors of assault, and abuses of power."

In 1999, Leonard won the American James Jones Literary Society's First Novel Award forSince You Ask (Akashic Books, New York) about a girl recovering from childhood sexual abuse and family dysfunction in New York.

Following 9/11, she left New York for her birth country of New Zealand. There, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University, published a second novel and was twice a finalist for New Zealand's Prize in Modern Letters (2006, 2008).

She is a Founding Member of the New Zealand Academy of Literature (2016).[1][2].

In Australia in 2010 she co-established a non-for-profit aboriginal-owned art center based in Mt Magnet (pop 500) in the outback Western desert; named Wirnda Barna, the center supports five regions located on Badimaya and Wadjarri country in Western Australia's Upper Murchison region. She also worked at the Mines Department.

Leonard returned to New York State after eight years and in 2015 published a short novel on her life with men 52 Men (Red Hen Press.

She hosts 52 Men the Podcast: Women Telling Stories About Men.[3].

She is also the writer of "How To Date A Writer" (The Rumpus) and short prose in Tin House online, Hotel Amerika, Quarter After Eight, and others.

Creative writing[edit]

Leonard was discovered by Poetry in 1995;[4] Her first novel, Since You Ask won the James Jones Literary Society First Novel Award and was published by Akashic Books, New York in 2004.[5] Her second novel, Miss Me A Lot Of was published in 2007 in New Zealand.[6] Her third 52 Men, (Red Hen Press, 2015) is a humorous work of metafiction drawing on her romantic life and imagination. With blurbs from writers Will Eno and Kurt Andersen, it also contains cameos of public figures including Jonathan Franzen, Michael Stipe, Lou Reed and Jay Carney. It is reviewed in essay by Amanda Fortini in the Spring 2016 Los Angeles Review of Books.[7]


"A book that still feels a tad revolutionary..

“52 Men suggests that our identity is at least in part a product of our romantic past, and that the particulars we choose to depict that past are significant, comprising a kind of personal psychobiography… Leonard’s focus is zoom-lens tight: she describes the various men, zeroing in on what they said and did -— and how she responded — in a pivotal moment. .. She suffered a grievous early trauma… and she’s wounded. Yet she’s also slyly, coolly observant and has transformed her experiences into art… We know her, ultimately, through the book she has written. The narrative specifics she selects to describe the men are hers, as is the deadpan humor; all of it arises from her artistic consciousness.

“Although in style and tone 52 Men differs from either Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights or Renata Adler’s Speedboat, it is, like both of these books, a novel of impressions unified by the author’s sensibility.”

Private life[edit]

Leonard is one of four siblings, one of whom is musician and writer Dean Wareham. She is married to Investigative Editor Matthew Leonard.