Happy birthday, Dan
Festivities to mark author's milestoneLAUREN HAYES
A weekend-long birthday party for one of Southland's best-known writers will kick off in Invercargill tonight.
Invercargill-born author Dan Davin would have celebrated his 100th birthday this Sunday and, to mark the milestone, the Dan Davin Literary Foundation has planned a weekend of commemorative events.
Foundation administrator Rebecca Amundsen said the festivities, which included the annual short story competition, a special centenary celebration, an exhibition about Davin's life, and even a birthday cake, were a way to remember the impact Davin had on the New Zealand literary scene.
There had already been a lot of interest in the author's centenary, Ms Amundsen said.
The short story competition, judged by former poet laureate Cilla McQueen and Dunedin poet Sue Wootton, had attracted a huge number of entries, with more than 60 stories submitted across all sections, she said.
The weekend celebrations will also feature two short plays, adapted by Wootton from Davin's stories, which will be performed at the birthday event tomorrow night.
Director and foundation trustee Sarah McCarthy said the plays were taken from Davin's stories that centred around life in Invercargill and would provide a portrait of home-life in Southland.
Young people often looked abroad for inspiration for their creative activities, but Davin was a homegrown example of what could be achieved, Mrs McCarthy said.
"He's a lot more than what people think ... he's not just a writer - he was a really amazing person."
Many Invercargill readers also experienced a certain thrill when realising they recognised the southern landmarks Davin had sprinkled into his stories, she said.
The Dan Davin celebrations begin tonight with the presentation of the short story competition awards and a speech by University of Otago modern Irish history lecturer Rory Sweetman at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.
A special centenary event, featuring the short plays and several guest speakers, will be held tomorrow night at Repertory House from 7pm. Entry is free.
The exhibition at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery runs until Monday, before shifting to the Invercargill City Library.
See Monday's edition of The Southland Times for the winning entries in the short story competition awards.
Daniel Marcus Davin, author of seven novels and several short story collections, was born on September 1, 1913, in Invercargill.
After graduating from the University of Otago, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in 1935, before serving in Crete and North Africa during World War II.
Following the war, Davin used his career at Oxford University Press to support the work of other New Zealand authors.
Davin was awarded a CBE in 1987. He died in 1990. Source: Dan Davin Literary Foundation
- © Fairfax NZ News
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