• 15 November 2022
  • Web Master

Image: Cherie Jacobson, Director of Katherine Mansfield House & Garden, interviews Dame Jane Campion. Photograph by Rebecca McMillan.

On Tuesday 1 November we had the privilege of hosting internationally acclaimed director, writer and producer Dame Jane Campion, one of our valued vice-Patrons, for a fundraising event to support Katherine Mansfield House & Garden. Close-Up: An Evening with Jane Campion was an inspiring event. Unsurprisingly for an award-winning filmmaker, Dame Jane knows how to tell a story. She also knows the power of stories and shared how reading has been so essential to her life. Books and plays have helped her navigate tough times and brought her great joy. Here are some of the books and writers she mentioned.

Children’s Books

Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans

The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant, Jean de Brunhoff

The Cat in the Hat and Horton Hatches the Egg, Dr Suess

Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown - a book Dame Jane loved reading to her own daughter

The Famous Five, Enid Blyton – Dame Jane’s first memory of reading herself was with a bumper book of The Famous Five, five stories in one book. In a recent interview ahead of our event, she recalled this experience: “I felt a sense of privacy and independence I had never had before. This writer was talking to me and I was listening to them, to their story. Story was newly powerful, I wanted desperately to know what was going to happen.”

Hairy Maclary, Lynley Dodd – Dame Lynley was an influential teacher for the young Dame Jane. Dame Lynley was Jane’s art teacher at Queen Margaret College. Dame Lynley discusses her work in this 20-minute video released earlier this year.


The Trojan Women [also translated as The Women of Troy], Euripides – At 14, Dame Jane played Andromache in a high school production directed by her father, Richard Campion ONZM. She recalls the experience as being significant to her as a teenager and later in her life.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare – Dame Jane’s parents founded the New Zealand Players and Shakespeare’s works were "like the Bible" in her house. A standout production for her was the famous Peter Brook’s Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream staged in a white box with a trapeze set, which Jane saw in Australia in 1973. 

Short stories

‘The Singers’, Ivan Turgenev (Dame Jane also mentioned his novella First Love)

‘Game of Cards’, Witi Ihimaera

‘Runaway’, Alice Munro

In the interviews for her upcoming pop-up film intensive, A Wave in the Ocean, Dame Jane asked applicants to read and discuss these stories.

Writers and specific works

The Once and Future King, T.H. White - a favourite of Jane's growing up.

Jane Austen

John Keats (poetry and letters) – Dame Jane wrote and directed Bright Star, a 2009 film which focuses on the final three years of John Keats’ life. She was inspired by a 1997 biography of Keats written by Andrew Motion.

Dame Jane loves biographies and autobiographies, she also mentioned My Early Life: 1874-1904 by Winston Churchill and recommended fellow Aotearoa New Zealand film director Dame Gaylene Preston’s newly published memoir, Gaylene’s Take: Her Life in Film. We were thrilled have Dame Gaylene in the audience at the event!

To the Is-land, An Angel at My Table and Owls Do Cry, Janet Frame – Dame Jane directed a biographical television series (that was also shown as a film) of Janet Frame’s life called An Angel at My Table. She first met Janet after reading To The Is-land and deciding she wanted to make a television series based on Janet’s life. Jane tells the story of the meeting in this 2008 piece for The Guardian.

The Brontë sisters – Dame Jane is a big fan of the works of the Brontë sisters. She has visited their family home, the parsonage in Haworth (West Yorkshire, England) which opened to the public as a museum in 1928, many times.

The Power of the Dog, Thomas Savage – Dame Jane was gifted The Power of the Dog (first published in 1967) by her stepmother and on reading it knew she wanted to turn it into a film.

Annie Proulx – Dame Jane met Annie Proulx while researching for The Power of the Dog as Annie wrote an afterword for the 2001 edition. Dame Jane loves Annie’s short story ‘Tits-Up in a Ditch’.

The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan - Dame Jane loves browsing in bookshops, which is how she came across Ian McEwan's short stories and this novel.

Hilary Mantel - her personal writing as well as her novels and short stories.

In the Cut, Susannah Moore – Dame Jane wrote and directed an adaptation of this novel which was released in 2003.

Middlemarch, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) – one of Dame Jane’s absolute favourite books, she has read it at least four times.

Favourite Katherine Mansfield stories

‘The Doll’s House’, ‘Bliss’ and Mansfield's life story


A huge thank you to Dame Jane for being such a wonderful guest and to all our supporters who made the event such a success. Special thanks to Hunter's Wines who sponsored the delicious MiruMiru™ bubbles, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School who hosted us, the sponsors of our raffle prizes Wellington Apothecary, Prefab, Gipps Street Deli and Lighthouse Cinema, and our very engaged audience! This was our major fundraiser for the year and after the ups and downs of the pandemic, we are very grateful for the boost to our bank account. Donations of any amount are gratefully received at any time of year and contributes to the care and maintenance of our Category 1 Historic Place and our collection. You can donate here.

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