Friday 1 November 2013 11:37am
William Colenso's Letters to the Editor
Compiled by Ian St George
' … you have the Press, both open and free: use it. Give your thoughts life; let all good measures be brought forward, discussed, and well ventilated.'
– William Colenso, writing to the Hawkes Bay Herald in 1859
The provincial newspaper columns were the ‘public spheres’ of their time, places for geographically separated individuals to contribute opinions to the debates of an immature democracy. But equally they were the vehicles for the passionately held views of bigots egged on by unscrupulous editors eager for exciting copy. These letters from Colenso, and their replies, show colonial politics to be argumentative, fervent and nasty – and the rants of opinionated, self-styled experts are thrilling in their vehemence.
IAN ST GEORGE is a retired general practitioner. He came to Colenso studies through his interest in native orchids. He has also edited Colenso’s Collections (2008), and is editor of eColenso, the newsletter of the Colenso Society. His most recent book is a new edition of the biography by A.C. Bagnall & G.C. Peterson, William Colenso: His Life and Journeys (2012).
Paperback, 500 pages, ISBN 978 1 877578 14 4, $65
Out of print