Author(s): Paul Millar
'There is no place in normal New Zealand society for the man who is different', wrote William Harrison (Bill) Pearson. One of New Zealand's most distinguished fiction writers and sharpest critics, Pearson's life was also fraught with contradiction and secrecy, largely because of his homosexuality.
Born in Greymouth in 1922, he grew up in a society dominated by a rugged ideal of New Zealand manhood; not an easy childhood or adolescence for an unusually sensitive boy who preferred intellectual pursuits to sports. He went to university and Dunedin Training College, then taught at Blackball School - a period from which he drew the material for his celebrated novel, Coal Flat. After serving in the Second World War he received his PhD from the University of London - where distance gave him a clear critical perspective on this country of 'fretful sleepers' - then returned to New Zealand as a scholar and lecturer, writer and editor. Bill Pearson's life is emblematic of vital elements in twentieth-century New Zealand society: intellectual culture, left-wing politics and the growing acceptance of homosexual identity and Maori and Pacific Island culture.
Paul Millar has written a fascinating biography of a man sentenced by his times to a life of unwilling concealment - a man who yet became a courageous non-conformist, awake to the vulnerability of his society's freedoms. First publlished April 2010.
Finalist in the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards - General Non-fiction category
"In both, his fiction and his critical writing, Pearson helped to define the themes and modes of New Zealand critical realism." --The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature
Dr Paul Millar is a senior lecturer in the School of English, Film and Theatre at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published five books and a number of articles on the poetry of James K. Baxter and has co-written the Baxter documentary The Road to Jerusalem. He was a judge in the 2004 and convening judge in the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Paul Millar received a Copyright Licensing Limited Writers Award in 2003 to complete No Fretful Sleeper.