Peter Whiteford (ed)

A Good Mail: Letters of John Mulgan

ISBN: 9780864736932

“Published December 2011

Your letter of November 1st makes sad reading. I'’m no believer in the joys and comforts of correspondence. My life seems to have been spent in separation from the people I liked and cared about.”
John Mulgan to Gabrielle Mulgan, Jan 12th, 1944.

The enigmatic figure of John Mulgan remains a striking presence in New Zealand culture, his sole novel, Man Alone, a landmark in the emergence of local literature. A Good Mail presents a generous selection of his letters home – letters to those he cared about, but from whom he felt a permanent separation. When he left New Zealand in 1933, he had declared “I think I’m going to have the best year of my life”. That confident expectation carried him through the first half of the thirties, but the growing political unrest in Europe severely dampened his enthusiasm (“It'’s a hell of a world we live in”), made him more and more conscious of his separation from whatever ‘home’ had come to mean, and strengthened his desire to see again his parents, his wife, and the son he scarcely knew. It was a desire that remained unfulfilled, his life ended by his own hand. These letters tell his story.

Peter Whiteford is Associate Professor of English at Victoria University of Wellington, and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. He has previously edited Vibrant with Words: The Letters of Ursula Bethell (2005) and John Mulgan'’s war memoir Report on Experience (2010).