Jo is an acclaimed New Zealand author whose output has been globally recognised. Her book The Search for Anne Perry was numbered in the top 10 non-fiction books on the New York Times bestseller list in 2015. It was a finalist in the prestigious New Zealand Book Awards in August 2013; it was the subject of a 60 Minutes programme; and a cover story for the NZ Listener. The Search for Anne Perry has been optioned for a feature film. Her critically acclaimed Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime (2008) was a Christmas pick of the Independent newspaper when it was released in the UK in 2009. Her other biographies of expatriate painters include Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing (Random House, 2005); Rhona Haszard: An Experimental Expatriate NZ Artist (CUP, 2002); and Edith Collier: Her Life and Work (CUP, 1999). She has curated exhibitions and publishes in art history, theory and biography. In 2007, she was awarded a National Library Fellowship, and in 2017 a prestigious Logan Fellowship at the Carey Institute in upstate New York. Her latest book, Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love, was released in October 2018 and won the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction at the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
Jo holds the 18th residency for the year and is working on a book about the Listener and says, ‘It is both the story of a publication, and the celebration of a maturing nation. This is a history of New Zealand through the lens of the Listener from 1939 to the present day.
It will begin with the birth of the Listener in the UK in 1929, look at its philosophy, audience, early contributors and then move on to its New Zealand incarnation.
The idea for the book come to me while I was working on 10 years of the New Zealand Listener while researching Peter Hudson and David Halls. I realised what an amazing story the magazine tells of New Zealand’s cultural, political, economic and technological history. And as a biographer, of course I couldn’t resist the idea of approaching the history of the Listener the same way a biographer approaches their subject’.