Nigel Cox was born in 1951 in Pahiatua and grew up in Masterton and the Hutt Valley. His early working life reads like an author trying to find his way: advertising account executive, assembly line worker at Ford, deck hand, coalman, door-to-door turkey salesman, driver. Eventually, in the UK, he found his way into the book world – he worked for many years as a bookseller, with later stints at Unity Books, Wellington and Auckland, and as a freelance writer.
In 1995 he became Senior Writer on the team that developed the exhibitions for Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum. With fellow New Zealander Ken Gorbey he led the project team that created the Jewish Museum Berlin, housed in the famous building designed by Daniel Libeskind. After the museum opened in September 2001 he joined its staff as Head of Exhibitions and Education.
Nigel’s published novels include Waiting for Einstein (1984), Dirty Work (1987), Skylark Lounge (2000) and Tarzan Presley, released in 2004 to rave reviews from readers and critics. It was named a runner-up in the Fiction category of the 2005 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Responsibility, Nigel's fifth novel, was published in May 2005 to widespread critical acclaim and was runner-up for Fiction in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. His sixth novel, The Cowboy Dog, (Nov 2006) was named as one of the Listener’s Best of the Best for 2006 and was runner-up in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007.
He was the 1999 Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton. In 2000 he and his family moved to Berlin but they returned to New Zealand permanently in 2005 and he rejoined Te Papa as Director – Experience until May 2006.
Nigel was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2005 and continued to write. In an interview by Guy Somerset in the Dominion Post 24 June 2006 Nigel talked candidly about his life, his illness and his work. Nigel died on Friday 28 July 2006. He is survived by his wife Susanna Andrew and their three children, Kate, Andrew-Jack and Frank.
The Cowboy Dog was published posthumously by VUP in November 2006.
Nigel Cox died 28 July 2006