Acclaimed New Zealand writer to receive honorary doctorate

Acclaimed New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox is to receive an honorary Doctor of Literature from Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington.

Elizabeth Knox

“Elizabeth Knox is an inspiration to young people and emerging writers and is helping grow the next generation of literary talent in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Chancellor Neil Paviour-Smith. “This honorary doctorate acknowledges her enormous contribution to literature.”

The honorary degree will be awarded during graduation week in September.

Ms Knox, who was made a Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit for her services to literature in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, is one of New Zealand’s most successful writers. She has achieved national and international acclaim for her powerfully imagined novels for adults and younger readers.

The author of 17 works to date, her most recent book is The Absolute Book, published by Victoria University Press. She was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction in 2019.

Born and raised in Wellington, Elizabeth Knox began her degree in English Literature at the University in 1983, and it was in Bill Manhire’s Original Composition course that she started work on her first novel, After Z-Hour. She graduated in 1987, the same year After Z-Hour was published by Victoria University Press.

Her best-known work, The Vintner’s Luck, won the Deutz medal for Fiction and the Readers’ Choice and Booksellers’ Choice awards in the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. In 2001 it was awarded the inaugural Tasmania Pacific Region Prize. It has since been published in 10 languages.

Her Dreamhunter Duet series for young adults also received national and international recognition. Dreamhunter won the 2006 Esther Glen Award for New Zealand children’s literature and Dreamquake won an American Library Association Michael L. Printz Honor Award for Young Adult Literature in 2008.

Elizabeth Knox has been a Victoria University of Wellington Writing Fellow, a Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow, and a recipient of the Michael King Writer’s Fellowship. She was one of the five inaugural recipients of an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2000. In addition to fiction, she has published essays and lectures on writing and how the imagination works.

She currently teaches a course in world-building at the International Institute of Modern Letters at the University.

Elizabeth Knox will be in conversation at an event with Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Humanities and Social Sciences and Education Professor Jennifer Windsor on 1 September.