Author Keri Hulme’s dying wish was for her original manuscript to be auctioned off so proceeds could support other Maori writers, her nephew says.
Nephew of accomplished New Zealand author Keri Hulme says his last wish was the original manuscript of The Bone People be auctioned so that the funds can help Maori writers.
Matthew Salmons said it was one of the last discussions she had with her whānau.
“It’s something that was discussed between her and my mum and my other aunt, Diane. The only reason it’s being auctioned off is because it’s basically to raise money to go to a trust that will award grants to Maori authors.
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“I think Keri was thrilled to think her manuscript could support that in the future. As a family, we’re very happy to be able to see that,” Salmons said.
Dunbar Sloane has estimated the price of the manuscript which comes in the form of two bound folders will be between $35,000 and $50,000 at its rare book auction in August.
The award-winning author died last December at the age of 74 after enduring chronic health issues.
Her novel won the 1984 New Zealand Book Award for fiction, as well as the Pegasus Prize for Maori literature.
The people of bones was the first debut novel to win Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize in 1985, making Hulme the first New Zealander to win the prize.
Salmons said her aunt Keri was stunned to receive the accolade.
“She’s pretty famous for saying ‘fuck it’, which was pretty big in those days. I think she was very happy and honored, but I also think a little surprised.
“For a first novel here in Aotearoa, I guess probably [it] would not have been the expected thing. I think she’s been very honored all her life to have received accolades for her work,” he said.
Initially, four publishers turned down the novel in its submitted form for different reasons, but it was eventually picked up in 1983 by the small Spiral Collective.
Salmons said he was delighted that his work had helped influence other writers in the country.
“It was really nice to see the reactions from the writers talking about his work and what inspired them, giving them ideas…it means something to them as part of their creative process,” Salmons said.
There has been considerable interest in the auction of the manuscript by Dunbar Sloane, with two New Zealand institutes having previously viewed the manuscript privately.
There have also been many requests from private collectors.
Salmons hoped the new owner of the manuscript would cherish it.
“It’s something very special for us as whānau. Obviously the reason it’s being sold is to continue a legacy, something that would make Keri very happy.
“I’m sure whoever ends up buying it will see it as such, as a taonga, as something very special… It could be someone who has never read The Bone People before, but reads it in a particularly special way.”