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Sylvia Ashton-Warner


Sylvia Ashton-Warner was born in Stratford, Taranaki in 1908. Her mother was a teacher, who travelled to remote areas, while her father suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and stayed at home, telling his children stories. As there were nine children, the family was poor. Sylvia was educated by her mother but also at different schools. She trained to become a teacher – against her will, partly because she wanted to be a writer or pianist and partly because she wanted to escape her mother’s influence. Nevertheless she became a teacher and had a long career, working with her husband in Maori schools. Though she did write and paint, she focused on teaching Maori children to read. After her husband died in 1969, she moved to North America, where she wrote books about teaching. Her best known work of fiction – Spinster – is about a teacher. Her autobiography I Passed This Way was also very successful and made into a film. She died in 1984.

Books about Sylvia Ashton-Warner

Lynley Hood: Sylvia!: The Biography of Sylvia Ashton-Warner

Other links

Sylvia Ashton-Warner
Ashton-Warner, Sylvia
Ashton-Warner, Sylvia Constance


1958 Spinster (novel)
1960 Incense to Idols (novel)
1963 Teacher
1964 Bell Call (novel)
1967 Greenstone (novel)
1967 Myself
1971 Three
1972 Spearpoint: Teacher in America
1979 I Passed This Way
1986 Stories from the River