A quite irresistible writer with a microscopic eye for tell tale detail - and a dazzlingly accurate ear for dialogue as it is really spoken. Dirk Bogarde

Barbara Anderson was born and educated in Hawke's Bay.  She graduated with a BSc from Otago University in 1947 and then worked as a medical technologist and teacher in Hawke's Bay and Wellington. With a lifelong interest in writing and reading, Barbara began her writing career relatively late in life after she took Bill Manhire's Creative Writing Course at Victoria University in 1983. She published several stories in Metro, Landfall, Sport and the New Zealand Listener, while one of her unpublished plays won the J C Reid award in 1985.  Several others have been broadcast.  Barbara graduated from Victoria University with a BA in 1984.

Her first collection of short stories, I Think We Should Go into the Jungle (1989), was shortlisted for the Wattie Award (1989) and the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction (1990).  This was followed by Girls High (1990), a serial novel that consists of linked short stories.  Girls High was her first book published in the United Kingdom, to glowing reviews.

As 1991 Writing Fellow at Victoria University, Barbara completed Portrait of the Artist's Wife (1992), which won the 1992 Wattie Award and was a bestseller. The book received critical acclaim in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The novels All the Nice Girls (1993), The House Guest (1995) and Proud Garments (1996) followed.  The Peacocks and Other Stories (1997) is Barbara's second collection of short stories and was reprinted three times within a year.  This was followed by Long Hot Summer (1999), The Swing Around (2001), Change of Heart (2003) and Collected Stories (2005) and Getting There: An Autobiography (2008).

Barbara achieved remarkable overseas success with all her novels being published in the United Kingdom and gathering high praise from some of writing's top names.  Nick Hornby wrote in the Sunday Times on Portrait of the Artist's Wife: "The promise that was evident in Girls High has been splendidly fulfilled, and now it seems only a matter of time before Wellington replaces New York as the literary capital of the world."

Popular demand meant that many of her books have been kept in print in New Zealand, and were issued as ebooks in 2011.

Barbara was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the University of Otago in 2009.   In 2011 she was awarded an Arts Foundation Icon Award - Whakamana Hiranga.  This Award honours senior New Zealand artists for their life-long achievements.  Barbara was recognised as being a leader in New Zealand Literature.  The Award is considered the Arts Foundation's highest honour and is limited to a living circle of twenty artists.

Barbara Anderson died aged 86 on 28 March 2013.


Barbara Anderson (writer) featured on TVNZ 7's broadcast of 'The Artists', produced in partnership with the Arts Foundation following the 2011 Arts Foundation Icon Awards.


Anderson writes some cracking dialogue and is astute as well as funny. She is adept at creating near-farcical situations, but invests her characters with enough depth to make her readers care what becomes of them.
    Born, Hastings, New Zealand
    Graduated with a BSc, Otago University
    Attended the International Institute of Modern Letters, Creative Writing Course
    Graduated with a BA, Victoria University
    Unpublished play won the J.C. Reid award
    I Think We Should Go into the Jungle (1989), short stories, shortlisted for the Wattie Award
  I Think We Should Go into the Jungle shortlisted, New Zealand Book Award for Fiction
Victoria University Writing Fellow
  Portrait of the Artist's Wife Winner of the Wattie Award
    The Swing Around (2001) nominated for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
   Getting There: An Autobiography
    Awarded Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature, University of Otago
     Arts Foundation Icon Award
Died aged 86 on 28 March 2013.