Paula Morris

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Paula Morris

Paula Jane Kiri Morris

(1965-08-18) 18 August 1965 (age 55)
Auckland, New Zealand
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of York
ThesisMagnolias and rattlesnakes: the southern lady in American fiction (1989)
Doctoral advisorHermione Lee

Paula Jane Kiri Morris MNZM (born 18 August 1965) is a New Zealand novelist and short-story writer.


Morris was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. Her father is a New Zealander and her mother is English; the family's tribal affiliations are Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Whātua. She graduated from the University of Auckland in 1985 with a BA in English and history, and moved to the United Kingdom the same year. After completing a DPhil at the University of York, under the supervision of Hermione Lee, and after a brief stint living in Manchester, she moved to London – working for BBC Radio 3 as a production assistant, Virgin Records as Press Officer for Virgin Classics, and PolyGram (now Universal) as Press and Promotions Manager for Philips.[1]

In 1994, Morris moved to New York to become Product Manager for the German record label ECM,[2] then distributed by BMG. During her four years at BMG Classics she rose to become Label Director of ECM and eventually Vice-President of Marketing for World Music and Jazz.[3]

Morris began taking fiction-writing classes at the West Side Y in 1997,[4] and started making her living from writing two years later, freelancing as a copywriter and promotions manager for The New York Times, writing encyclopaedia entries for Contemporary Black Biography,[5] and also working as a freelance branding consultant. In 2001 she moved back to New Zealand to join the MA in Creative Writing program at Victoria University of Wellington, where she was taught by Bill Manhire.[6]

From 2002 to 2004, Morris attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was the recipient of the Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship (2002–03)[7] and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship (2003–04),[8] graduating with an MFA. In the spring of 2003 she was also the University of Iowa International Program's Writer-in-Residence.[9]

From 2005 until 2010, Morris was an assistant professor at Tulane University in New Orleans,[10] moving back to the UK in 2010 to teach at the University of Stirling in Scotland. At Stirling she was program director of the new MLitt in Creative Writing (Prose).[11]

Between 2012 and 2014, Morris was fiction writer-in-residence at the University of Sheffield.[12] Since 2015 she has taught at the University of Auckland, where she convenes the Master of Creative Writing programme.[13]

Her short story False River was shortlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the richest prize in the world for a single short story.[14][15] It is the title story in her collection False River (Penguin, 2017), a book that combines stories and essays around the theme of lies and secret histories.[16]


Morris's MA dissertation project at Victoria University won that year's Adam Foundation Prize[17] and became her first published novel, Queen of Beauty (Penguin New Zealand, 2002).[18] It won the NZSA Hubert Church Best Book of Fiction at the 2003 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.[19]

Many of the stories that formed Morris' dissertation project at Iowa, supervised by Marilynne Robinson, are collected in Forbidden Cities (Penguin New Zealand, 2008),[20] which was a finalist in the 2009 Commonwealth Prize SE Asia/Pacific region. At Iowa Morris also worked on two novels – Hibiscus Coast (Penguin New Zealand, 2005)[21] and Trendy But Casual (Penguin New Zealand, 2007)[22] – both of which she completed while living in New Orleans.

Her 2011 novel Rangatira[23] won best work of fiction at the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards.[24] The novel was serialised and broadcast by Radio New Zealand in 2012[25] and published in German that year by Walde + Graf.[26] It was longlisted for the 2013 International Dublin Literary Award.[27]

Morris has appeared at literary festivals and conferences in the US, China, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and Switzerland, and held a number of writer's residencies, including the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship in 2008 (with Brigid Lowry).[28] During her tenure as a Sargeson fellow, Morris undertook two editorial projects: The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (2008) [29] and an expatriate-writing issue of Landfall.[30]

She also wrote her first Young Adult novel, Ruined,[31] published in 2009 by Scholastic US. Morris followed this with another YA supernatural mystery, Dark Souls (2011)[32] and Unbroken (2013),[33] which is a sequel to Ruined. Her most recent Young Adult novel is The Eternal City,[34] set in contemporary Rome. In 2013 Morris published her first children's book, the second title in Puffin's New Zealand Girls series: Hene and the Burning Harbour.

Morris has been awarded a number of residencies, including the Brecht House in Denmark, and the Bellagio Foundation in Italy.[35] In 2016 she was a writer-in-residence at the Passa Porta International House of Literature in Brussels.[36] She has held two residencies at the International Writers' and translators' House in Ventspils, Latvia - in 2015 and 2017.[37]

In 2018, she was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Prize,[38] and in the 2019 New Year Honours she appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature.[39]


  • Queen of Beauty (2002)
  • Hibiscus Coast (2005)
  • Trendy but Casual (2007)
  • Forbidden Cities (2008)
  • The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (editor) (2008)
  • Ruined (2009)
  • Dark Souls (2011)
  • Rangatira (2011)
  • Unbroken (2013)
  • Hene and the Burning Harbour (2013)
  • On Coming Home (2015)
  • The Eternal City (2015)
  • False River (2017)
  • Shining Land (2020)
  • Ko Aotearoa Tatou (2020)


  1. ^ About Paula Archived 8 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (17 February 1996). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 45–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  3. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (14 March 1998). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 14–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ Interview with Paula Morris Archived 31 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Book Divas
  5. ^ King Oliver Facts, information, pictures.
  6. ^ Paula Morris interview – Book Club – Books. The Listener
  7. ^ Prize Winners – International Institute of Modern Letters. Victoria University of Wellington
  8. ^ Paula Morris. New Zealand Book Council
  9. ^ Writer-in-Residence To Speak April 21. University News Service – The University of Iowa (April 2003)
  10. ^ For novelist Paula Morris, the shadows in New Orleans history invite exploration. (9 September 2009). Retrieved on 2015-12-26.
  11. ^ An Interview with Paula Morris. The Gothic Imagination
  12. ^ Morris – Staff Archived 19 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The University of Sheffield.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "World's Richest Story Prize". The Sunday Times. 1 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Yiyun Li is first woman to win The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award". BookTrust. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Prize Winners – International Institute of Modern Letters Archived 8 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Victoria University of Wellington
  18. ^ Queen Of Beauty « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author.
  19. ^ Montana New Zealand Book Awards – Literature. Christchurch City Libraries
  20. ^ Forbidden Cities « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author. (20 June 2014). Retrieved on 2015-12-26.
  21. ^ Hibiscus Coast « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author.
  22. ^ Trendy But Casual « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author.
  23. ^ Rangatira « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author.
  24. ^ 2012 Awards. Booksellers New Zealand
  25. ^ National : Programmes : The Reading : Rangatira by Paula Morris. Radio New Zealand
  26. ^ Walde + Graf.
  27. ^ Rangatira | International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Archived 21 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Buddle Findlay – New Zealand Lawyers
  29. ^ The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author Archived 24 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ landfall 217 Otago University Press, New Zealand. Retrieved on 2015-12-26.
  31. ^ Ruined « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author. (20 June 2014). Retrieved on 2015-12-26.
  32. ^ Dark Souls « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author.
  33. ^ Unbroken « Paula Morris, New Zealand Author. (20 June 2014). Retrieved on 2015-12-26.
  34. ^ [1] Retrieved on 2016-04-21.
  35. ^ Kiwi author receives prestigious Bellagio Residency | Booksellers New Zealand. (11 June 2014). Retrieved on 2015-12-26.
  36. ^ Retrieved on 2016-04-21.
  37. ^
  38. ^ [2]. Retrieved on 2019-01-02
  39. ^ "New Year honours list 2019". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2019.

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