BROCK, R.W. [IE JOHN ALEXANDER BARR]. - Mihawhenua: the Adventures of a Party of Tourists Amongst a Tribe of Maoris Discovered in Western Otago, New Zealand. Recorded By R. W. Brock, MA, LLB. Edited By R. H. Chapman. (Being a Manuscript Addressed to the Editor, Found Attached to a Maori Kite on Mount Alta ...
Dunedin, Wilkie & Co 1888. Octavo publisher's illustrated wrapper (spine chipped); 198,[2 adverts]pp. Used but a very decent copy. ¶ A lost race thriller with the race being discovered in a lush world around a warm lake hidden in the mountains. Barr published a few novels all in a rush, including two thrillers - one Australian - under the name Gilbert Rock but his own story is perhaps more exciting than Moa riding Maoris, cannibals, and treacherous French sailors. A Dunedin lawyer, he petitioned in 1888 for a protective tax on all imported literature, assuring the government that he was "prepared to supply the colonial market with literature if inducement offers." All his known novels then appeared by November. Soon after he did 'the Pacific Slope' (a great term I hadn't heard before), abandoning his family and absconding with many thousands of his clients' pounds either lost or in his pocket. Here Barr vanishes from view except for a startling piece in the Auckland Star of October 1 1894 in which is mentioned a letter just received by Sir George Grey from the author of Mihawhenua with a return address but an indecipherable signature. No-one could decipher the signature so Grey's secretary cut the signature from the letter and pasted it onto the reply. No connection was made between the author of Mihawhenua and the missing lawyer. A final glimpse is a London death notice in 1907 which identifies him as a former solicitor of Dunedin and tells us he has been living in England with his wife and family for five or six years. I wonder if it was the same family. The dedication, to the colonial press in "grateful acknowledgment", of one of his thrillers, 'By Passion Driven', was declined on conscientious grounds by the Christchurch Telegraph who said, "What object Mr Gilbert Rock could have had we do not know". Perhaps his dedication was for The Daily Telegraph who described his 'Colonists' as "not a badly told story."AUD 450.00 [Appr.: EURO 319.5 US$ 344.79 | £UK 275.75 | JP¥ 38345] Book number 9178
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