Lynley Hood is a first-rate freelance
writer and biographer whose work is described as deep, detailed, insightful
Lynley Hood was born
in Hamilton in 1942. In 1961 she moved to Dunedin where she completed an
MSc in Physiology. Hood worked in medical research until the birth of her
first child. In 1979 she became a freelance writer
Hood’s first book, Sylvia!
The Biography of Sylvia Ashton-Warner (1990) won first prize at the
Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Award in 1989, the PEN Best First Book of Prose
Award in 1989 and the Talking Book of the Year in 1990.
Writing in Metro, Michael King celebrates the
biography as, ‘Like all first-rate biographies, Sylvia! tells us a great deal more than Ashton-Warner - about
the business of life itself, its promises, its anxieties, its ultimate
disappointment. I cannot recommend it too highly.'
Hood’s next two books
were Who is Sylvia? The Diary of a Biography (1990) and Minnie
Dean: Her Life & Crimes (1994). The latter was a finalist in
the New Zealand Book Awards in 1995.
Hood has also written
a stag play: The Baby Farmer which received a special commendation at
the NZ Radio Awards in 1997.
In 2001 Hood
published the popular, controversial and award-winning A City Possessed: The
Christchurch Civic Crèche Case.
A City Possessed was the History Winner, Readers’ Choice Award and won
the Montana Medal for Non-fiction at the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book
Awards. The book also won the Skeptic New Zealand Bravo Award in 2002.
In the New Zealand
Law Journal Ian Freckelton writes, ‘A
City Possessed is a gripping and controversial analysis of a legal and
social phenomenon that has the potential to confront us all … Hood’s
courage in robustly presenting her version of the tale and in seeking to
learn from it should inspire all of us to reflect soberly and thoughtfully
about how child protection, criminal investigation and legal procedures can
be improved.’ Writing in New Zealand Books Greg Newbold declares, ‘The
result is nothing less than outstanding; an encyclopaedic work of
professorial quality … deep, detailed, insightful and comprehensive.’
In 2003 Hood earned a
LittD from Otago University. The degree was not honorary; instead it was
earned for ‘published contributions of special excellence in linguistic,
literary, social or historical knowledge’. When recommending that the
degree be conferred an external examiner described A City Possessed as, ‘unquestionably an outstanding piece of
research work of substantial national significance’.
Hood’s articles have
appeared in a variety of publications including New Zealand Books, the Otago
Daily Times, the New Zealand
Listener, New Zealand Author,
and North & South. She has
contributed a chapter to Alison Jones’ Touchy
Subject: Teachers Touching Children (2001). She has also written the
introduction to Sylvia Ashton-Warner’s Stories
from the River (1986). In 1991 Hood was the Robert Burns Fellow.
Lynley Hood lives in
Dunedin. She participates in the Book Council Writers in Schools programme.
Council, NZ writers
& Readers Festival 2003