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|Representing New Zealand|
|British Empire and Commonwealth Games|
|1958 Cardiff||110 yards Butterfly|
Tessa Duder, OBE (née Staveley, born 1940), is a New Zealand swimming champion and author of novels for young people, short stories, plays and non-fiction. She is primarily known for her Alex quartet and long-term advocacy for New Zealand children's literature. As an editor she has also published a number of anthologies.
Duder was born in 1940 in Auckland, the daughter of a doctor. Her entire school career was spent at the Diocesan School for Girls. As a teenager she competed in the butterfly and medley swimming events, becoming a national record holder in both events during 1958–59. She went on to win the silver medal in the 110 yards butterfly at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. She was named New Zealand Swimmer of the Year in 1959.
After leaving school she worked as a journalist for the Auckland Star, before travelling to Europe, working for the Daily Express. She married John Duder in 1964 and following the birth of the first of her four daughters, she was a full-time mother for 7 years, much of it spent in Pakistan. She returned to Auckland in 1972, where she reentered the work force as a pianist.
Duder began writing fiction in 1977. Her first novel Night Race to Kawau was published by Oxford University Press in 1982. Her most successful works are the Alex quartet of novels (Alex, Alex in Winter, Alessandra: Alex in Rome and Songs for Alex) which build upon her own childhood experiences by following a teenage competitive swimmer with Olympic ambitions. The series won three New Zealand Children's Book of the Year awards and three Esther Glen medals. Alex has been translated into five languages and was for many years Penguin New Zealand's best selling work of fiction. A film production of Alex was released in 1993 but was commercially unsuccessful.
Duder's later work has been varied, including plays, anthologies and biographies. The Tiggie Tompson Show won the 2000 New Zealand Post Senior Fiction Award for young adult fiction. Her first work for adults, a short story collection Is She Still Alive? reached number two on New Zealand bestseller lists in 2008.
Duder has performed in several of her own plays and acted in 11 episodes of the New Zealand soap Shortland Street.
She is a past president of the NZ Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc). She was made an OBE in the 1994 New Year Honours for services to literature and young people, and has been awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal. She is a Trustee of the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand, the Spirit of Adventure Trust which operates the tall ship Spirit of New Zealand and the Operating Theatre Trust (Tim Bray Productions). In 1991 she was the University of Waikato's first Writer-in-Residence. In 2003, she won the Katherine Mansfield fellowship to work for a year in Menton, France, and in 2007 she travelled to Antarctica under the Artists to Antarctica programme. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato in 2009. In 2013, she participated in the first Tall Ships Regatta from Sydney to Auckland, sailing aboard Spirit of New Zealand for the 8-day race crossing from Sydney to Opua.
Novels for young people:
- Night Race to Kawau (1982)
- Jellybean (1985)
- Alex (1987) (US title: In Lane Three, Alex Archer)
- Alex in Winter (1989)
- Alessandra - Alex in Rome (1991)
- Songs for Alex (1992)
- Mercury Beach (1997)
- The Tiggie Tompson Show (1999)
- Hot Mail (2000)
- Tiggie Tompson, All at Sea (2001)
- Tiggie Tompson's Longest Journey (2003)
Short Stories for Adults;
- Is She Still Alive? (2008)
- The Runaway (1993) - one-act play for young actors about Joan of Arc
- The Warrior Virgin (1996)
- Kawau - the Governor's Gift (1981)
- The Book of Auckland (1985)
- Spirit of Adventure: the Story of New Zealand's sail training ship (1985) – with Captain Barry Thompson and Clifford Hawkins
- Waitemata - Auckland's Harbour of Sails (1989)
- Journey to Olympia - the story of the Ancient Olympics (1992)
- The Making of Alex: the movie (1993)
- In Search of Elisa Marchetti — a writer’s search for her Italian family (2002)
- Margaret Mahy - a writer's life (2005)
- The Word Witch - the magical verse of Margaret Mahy (editor) - (2011)
- The Story of Sir Peter Blake (2012)
- Profile at the New Zealand Olympic Committee website
- "Biography". Tessa Duder. July 28, 2010. Archived from the original on February 27, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- London Gazette (supplement), No. 53528, 30 December 1993. Retrieved 9 January 2013.