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Robin Hyde, author of The Godwits Fly
Iris Wilkinson (1906-39), who wrote asRobin Hyde, is one of New Zealand’s major writers. Brought up in Wellington (her father was English and her mother Australian), she was encouraged to write poetry. At 17, she began work as a newspaper journalist.The following year, she underwent surgery for a serious knee injury, from which she would suffer for the rest of her life. Over the next several years she had brief love affairs, producing two illegitimate children – the first died, but her son, Derek Challis b. 1930, was fostered (and would write her biography in 2004). Despite two breakdowns, she continued to work ferociously hard, notably during 1934-5 at Auckland Mental Hospital when she wrote half of her total output; here she began her autobiographical novelThe Godwits Fly(1938) describing ‘Eliza’ up to the age of 21. During the 1930s Robin Hyde published a total of ten books – five novels, poetry (inc.Persephone in Winter,1937) a travel book and journalism. She travelled to China in 1938, made it to England, but killed herself in Notting Hill Gate a week before the outbreak of war.