Maurice Gee was born in Whakatane in 1931. He gained an MA in English Literature from the University of Auckland and initially worked as a school teacher in Paeroa. He spent 1961 teaching and writing in England, partly supported by a grant from the New Zealand Literary Fund, a testimony to his growing literary status.
A year later The Big Season, Gee's first novel, was published. His literary breakthrough came with the publication of the trilogy - Plumb (1978), Meg (1981) and Sole Survivor (1983) which provide a broadly conceived image of life in New Zealand over three generations. Gee soon added another string to his bow by venturing into writing for children. In 2002 he was honoured by the Children's Literature Foundation for his contribution to children's fiction and received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2003. From there he went on to publish The Scornful Moon (Penguin Books, 2003), which was shortlisted for Best Book in the South Pacific & South East Asian Region of the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize.
A string of awards followed, including the $60,000 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement for fiction – the same year he received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from the University of Auckland. In 2012, Gee appeared at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival as the inaugural Honoured New Zealand Writer, an award conceived to celebrate New Zealand's most accomplished writers, their work and the immense contribution they have made to the literary landscape of New Zealand.