Tessa Duder has written some of New Zealand’s most loved literature of which her Alex quartet is her most successful. She’s an author of novels for young people, writing a plethora of award-winning short stories, plays and non-fiction. Duder began writing fiction at 38. Her first novel Night Race to Kawau was published four years later by the prestigious Oxford University Press in New Zealand and UK in 1982.
In recent years she has taught creative writing at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Continuing Education, at summer schools in Auckland, Hamilton, Kerikeri and Wellington, and many one-day seminars for both adults and children around the country.
The Warrior Virgin, a full-length play for young performers about Joan of Arc, was written in collaboration with Martin Baynton and first performed in 1995. Published by Reed in 1996, it has subsequently been produced by high schools all around New Zealand.
Her Alex novels won her three New Zealand Children's Book of the Year awards and three Esther Glen medals, and are published in America, Britain, Australia and Canada.
Since winning her first grant in 1985, the Choysa Bursary for Children's Writers, Tessa has been awarded several Creative New Zealand (Arts Council) grants, including a Special Writing Bursary in 1989, the first Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Waikato in 1991 and the Literary Exchange Fellowship to Australia in 1993.
She was a featured author at the 2000 18th World Congress of the International Reading Association held in Auckland, and at the biennial conference of the Arthur Ransome Society in Durham, England, in 2001.
Duder has been awarded the OBE and the Margaret Mahy Medal. She won the 2003 Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship and in 2007 was awarded an Artists to Antarctica Fellowship, allowing her to spend nearly three weeks at Scott Base. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato in 2008.