Bill Manhire retires to write

BILL MANHIRE: More than 40 years as an academic is coming to an end.
BILL MANHIRE: More than 40 years as an academic is coming to an end.

After four decades as an academic, Wellington writer Bill Manhire is retiring to focus on his writing.

Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters today announced Damien Wilkins, already a senior lecturer at the institute, would take over from Manhire as director.

Wilkins this morning said Manhire was retiring from the university, where he had worked since the early 1970s, in January next year.

Damien Wilkins
Damien Wilkins

"This will give him more time to write. Writers never retire.''

While Manhire would no longer work at the Institute, Wilkins said: "I think it will always be known as the Bill Manhire school."

"I'm quite happy to be branded like that.''

Most notable would be the one-year creative writing MA - commonly referred to as the "Manhire writing course".

Wilkins said, in reality, Manhire had not been directly involved in the course for the last couple of years, focusing instead on a PHD programme.

Wilkins said he had few changes planned though would look to extend the undergraduate programme.

"The Institute of Modern Letters is in really great shape. The legacy he has is really quite astounding.''

Wilkins is himself an accomplished writer, with nine books to his name.

He won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction in 1994, was joint runner up for the 2001 fiction prize at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and was runner-up for the Montana Medal for Fiction in 2007.

In 2008 he was awarded the New Zealand Post Katherine Mansfield Fellowship.

He has also written for stage and television and has taught at the Institute for about a decade.

Contact Tom Hunt
Porirua reporter
Twitter: @tomdom76

The Dominion Post