Tribute to Sondheim

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” – Stephen Sondheim

Sadly, there have been a number of notable deaths of well-known figures this year, but among the most significant was the passing of musical theatre titan, Stephen Sondheim. Passing at the age of 91 at the end of November, Sondheim redefined musical theatre over his more than sixty year career. He notably collaborated on West Side Story with another renowned composer, Leonard Bernstein, and was mentored by Oscar Hammerstein II, of the famous musical theatre duo, Rogers and Hammerstein. Sondheim began his musical theatre career as a lyricist, before going on to both write and compose. Some of his most notable works are: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), and Into the Woods (1987). See below for some of our holdings both by and about Stephen Sondheim.

The story so far… / Sondheim, Stephen
“Stephen Sondheim: The Story So Far is a four-CD box set of 82 recordings of music by the Broadway songwriter, with a running time just under five hours. It is far from the first compilation of Sondheim’s work, or even the first box set, but it follows a pattern in such compilations and in box sets in general, in that the selection seems aimed at two different classes of potential purchasers, those general fans looking for a single omnibus collection of the best or most popular of an artist’s efforts, and the aficionados primarily interested in rarities”. ~ William Ruhlmann” (Abridged from the catalogue)

Stephen Sondheim : a life / Secrest, Meryle
“”In the first full-scale life of the most important composer-lyricist at work in musical theatre today, Meryle Secrest draws on her extended conversations with Stephen Sondheim as well as on her interviews with his friends, family, collaborators, and lovers to bring us not only the artist – as a master of modernist compositional style – but also the private man.” “We see Sondheim at work with composers, producers, directors, co-writers, actors, the greats of his time and ours, among them Leonard Bernstein, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Robbins, Zero Mostel, Bernadette Peters, and Lee Remick (with whom it was said he was in love, and she with him), as Secrest vividly re-creates the energy, the passion, the despair, the excitement, the genius, that went into the making of show after Sondheim show.”–BOOK JACKET. Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved” (Catalogue)

Sondheim’s Broadway musicals / Banfield, Stephen
“The first in-depth look at the work and career of one of the most important figures in the history of musical theater.” (Catalogue)




Finishing the hat : the collected lyrics of Stephen Sondheim with attendant comments, principles, heresies, grudges, whines and anecdotes / Sondheim, Stephen
“The winner of seven Tonys, seven Grammys, an Oscar, and a Pulitzer Prize, Stephen Sondheim has become synonymous with the best in musical theatre. Now, in Finishing the Hat, he has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, he’s giving readers a rare, personal look into his extraordinary shows and life. Along with the lyrics, both published and unpublished, for all of his productions from 1954 to 1981 – including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd, which have starred some of the most famous and talented actors in the world from Johnny Depp and Catherine Zeta Jones, to Judi Dench and Alan Rickman, Finishing the Hat is a celebration of the act of creation. Sondheim discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with legends Leonard Bernstein, Richard Rodgers, Angela Lansbury, and countless others.  (Abridged from the catalogue)

Look, I made a hat : collected lyrics (1981-2011) with attendant comments, amplifications, dogmas, harangues, digressions, anecdotes and miscellany / Sondheim, Stephen
“Filled with behind-the-scenes photographs and illustrations from original manuscripts, and with the same elegant design as the earlier book, ‘Look, I Made A Hat’ will be devoured by Sondheim’s passionate fans today and for years to come.” (Catalogue)


The Stephen Sondheim collection : 52 selections from 17 musicals or film scores / Sondheim, Stephen
“Standards Piano/Vocal/Guitar” (Catalogue)




The Stephen Sondheim collection. Volume 2, 40 songs from 14 shows and films / Sondheim, Stephen
“Standards Piano/Vocal/Guitar” (Catalogue)




Sweeney Todd : the demon barber of Fleet Street / Sondheim, Stephen
“Musical Theatre Vocal Solo” (Catalogue)


Rosamunde Pilcher, international bestselling author has died

Rosamunde Pilcher had already written thirteen books before she became an international bestselling sensation with the Shell Seekers. Eventually the popular book was to be translated into forty languages, sit on best seller lists for an astonishing forty-nine weeks, sell over ten million copies and turn Rosamunde into an unlikely cult figure in Germany. She was credited for taking romantic fiction to a higher level injecting more realism and grittiness into the genre, and setting the benchmark for romantic fiction novelists. She retired from writing in 2000 after completing her final work Winter Solstice stating that she “wanted to stop while she was writing well”. She will be sorely missed by her legions of fans.

Syndetics book coverThe shell seekers / Rosamunde Pilcher.
“Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter solstice / Rosamunde Pilcher.
“Elfrida Phipps loves her new life in the pretty Hampshire village. She has a tiny cottage, her faithful dog Horace and the friendship of the neighbouring Blundells – particularly Oscar – to ensure that her days include companionship as well as independence. But an unforeseen tragedy upsets Elfrida’s tranquillity: Oscar’s wife and daughter are killed in a terrible car crash. Oscar and Elfrida take refuge in a rambling house in Scotland which becomes a magnet for various waifs and strays who converge upon it, including an unhappy teenage girl.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Iconic legend of the comic book world, Stan Lee, has died

Stan Lee, co-creator of some of the most famous super heroes ever: including Spider-man, The Hulk, The X-men, The Fantastic Four, Thor and the Black Panther died yesterday (12th November 2018). It is no exaggeration to say that the comic creations he helped bring to life changed the global entertainment world profoundly. Some of those characters have permeated just about every aspect of world culture. His larger than life public persona often appeared as cameos in Marvel Universe films.

He will be greatly missed but there is no doubt those creations he helped to form will go on.

R.I.P. Stan Lee.

Syndetics book coverAmazing fantastic incredible : a marvelous memoir / Stan Lee and Peter David and Colleen Doran.
“In this gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee–comic book legend and cocreator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes–shares his iconic legacy and the story of how modern comics came to be.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpider-Man 2099 [6] : Apocalypse soon / Peter David, writer ; Will Sliney, artist.
“Spider-Man 2099 has learned the location of the headquarters of the Fist – the extremist anti-government offshoot of the Hand that put his fianc’e in a coma – and he’s ready to mount his attack! But it turns out that he’s not the only one investigating the radical group. Elektra Natchios, Marvel’s most deadly assassin, has her own reasons for hunting these terrorists. Can Miguel trust this mysterious newcomer, or is she yet another obstacle in his quest for vengeance?  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStan Lee’s How to draw comics : from the legendary creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Iron Man / Stan Lee.
Contents of this book include: A brief history of comic books . . . by a guy who lived them! — Tools of the trade — Form, perspective & foreshortening — The human head — Amazing anatomy, action & acting — Characters & costumes — Bring on the backgrounds — The life behind the layouts — Peerless penciling — Imaginative inking — Lively lettering — Crafting the color — Commanding covers — and Creating the comic book.


Nobel prize winning author VS Naipaul dies aged 85

Nobel prize winning author V.S. Naipaul died over the weekend. He was acknowledged by all as a master story teller with a sharp eye for the human condition, but he was also a highly controversial figure — his statements on gender, race and Islamic culture were often extreme. He leaves behind a challenging and complicated body of work, his acknowledged masterpiece being A House for Mrs Biswas (link and synopsis below).

You can read obituaries for V.S. Naipaul at the links below:

Syndetics book coverA house for Mr Biswas / V.S. Naipaul ; with an introduction by Karl Miller.A House for Mr. Biswas
“In the comic masterpiece which established him one of the greatest writers in the English language, Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Tom Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, has died

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverThomas Kennerly Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, born 2 March 1930, has died on 14 May 2018. He was perhaps best known for his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities which was about the fall of a young Wall Street trader. It is often described as the novel that defined the 80’s and turned Wolfe into a superstar author, a role he relished with his famous flamboyant suits. He was however very far from a one book wonder. The Right Stuff was his non-fiction account of America’s first manned space flights and was turned into a multiple Oscar winning movie. Likewise, his account of Ken Kesey and the merry pranksters’ LSD soaked voyage of discovery across America in the sixties came to be one of the books that defined the flower power generation in much the same way as The Bonfire of the Vanities did for the 80s.

Anita Shreve has died, aged 71

Syndetics book coverThe literary world will be a much sadder place after the announcement of the death of Anita Shreve. Syndetics book coverShe was a very popular, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author. Before becoming a full time novelist she was a teacher and a journalist. She really came into the public arena with “The weight of water” published in 1997 which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and turned into a film by Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Her most recent novel was “The stars are fire” published in 2017. Her books often revolved around the after effects of one single dramatic event and she liked to explore the subtleties of human relationships in often a highly nuanced and skilled fashion.


Irish author William Trevor dies

Syndetics book coverWilliam Trevor, the Irish author has died at 88 years. A prolific fiction writer, he was born in Ireland, and lived the later part of his life in England. His first novel was published in 1958, with 18 titles following. He also published 18 short story collections, 6 plays and 3 works of non-fiction. He won the Hawthornden Prize for literature in 1964 for his novel titled The Old Boys. He won the Whitbread Prize three times, and was nominated for the Booker Prize five times. He won the American short story O. Henry Award four times. His last published novel, titled Love and Summer was published in 2009.

Highly Acclaimed New Zealand writer James McNeish has died

Syndetics book coverIt is with great sadness the death of James McNeish was announced. He was one of New Zealand’s most prolific writers of fiction, non-fiction, plays, essays, articles and reviews. His first novel, titled Mackenzie was published in 1970 and his eighth, titled The Crime of Huey Dunstan was published on 2010. In 2010 he was awarded the Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Celia Lashlie, a legacy for social justice

Celia Lashlie, who was well known as a researcher and social commentator, died on the 16th February 2015 after a short illness. Celia’s work in social justice started in the probation service. In December 1985 she started as the first woman to work as a prison officer in a male prison in New Zealand and worked for the Prison Service for 15 years. Her last role for the Prison Service was at the Christchurch Women’s Prison as a manager. She left that position in September 1999.

She was well known for her talks on raising teenage boys, and on social justice issues and authored three books that are available here at Wellington City Libraries; The Journey to Prison: Who goes and why, He’ll Be Ok, Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men and The Power of Mothers: Releasing Our Children.  In September 2004, she completed the ‘Good Man’ project. The project aimed to create a working definition of what makes a good man in the 21st century.

Up until her illness she was working on projects linked to improving the lives of at-risk children and empowering families to find their own solutions to the challenges they face. Celia and her family hoped that this work would continue with public support and will be a testament to her great contribution to social justice and improving the lives of at-risk families, aiding the reduction of crime and poverty in this country and driven by her belief that “every child is born pure and filled with their own particular brand of magic”.

Celia had two children and three grandchildren.

Syndetics book coverThe journey to prison : who goes and why / Celia Lashlie.
‘There is a blond, angelic-faced five year old sitting in a classroom in New Zealand and he is coming to prison…on his way, he will probably kill someone.’ With these words Celia Lashlie caused a media storm that propeeled her into the headlines for weeks during 2001. Now she tells the story from her point of view, then goes on to look at the whole question of the origins issue of crime in New Zealand, the way we punish offenders, the effectiveness of prison (for both men and women), parental responsibility, the role of drugs, where education comes in and the role of state institutions. Underpinning her argument is the need for the community as a whole to take responsibility for the incidence of crime in our society. With her background as a prison officer in male prisons and manager of a female prison, Celia Lashlie is uniquely placed to offer both real facts and wise insights that will inform the often unenlightened debate about crime and punishment in New Zealand. (Abridged from back cover)

Syndetics book cover He’ll be OK : growing gorgeous boys into good men / Celia Lashlie.
“Adolescent boys – they seem to disappear into another world where they barely communicate and where fast cars, alcohol and drugs are constant temptations.  Will they survive to become good men?  How can parents and schools understand them and help them through this difficult and dangerous time?  Celia Lashlie has some of the answers.  After years of working in the prison service she knows what can happen when boys make the wrong choices.  She also knows what it is like to be a parent – she raised a son on her own and feared for his survival.  During the recent Good Man Project she talked to 180 classes of boys throughout New Zealand, and what she found was surprising, amusing , and in some cases, frightening.  In this funny, honest, no-nonsense book Celia Lashlie reveals what goes on inside the world of boys, and that it is an entirely different world from that of girls.  With clarity and insight she offers parents – especially mothers – practical and reassuring advice on raising their boys to become  good, loving, articulate men.”  (Abridged from back cover)

Syndetics book coverThe power of mothers : releasing our children / Celia Lashlie.
“A hard-hitting look at crime and criminal families and the women with the power to change things – if we let them. The Power of Mothers is a wake up call to voter and politician, parent and grandparent, social agency and lobby group alike. We must do more than build prisons to hold the children we fail – and we must start now.” (Abridged from back cover)

Hotere: Honouring an Icon

Ralph Hotere, or Hone Papita Raukura, was a prominent Māori artist and widely recognised as one of New Zealand’s most important artists. He was born in Mitimiti, Northland and was of Te Aupōuri and Te Rarawa decent. Known as a “warrior artist”, he was renowned for his passionately political artworks, as he provocatively portrayed some of New Zealand’s most divisive historical events. He is attributed with having helped shape New Zealand’s cultural identity, and was accordingly appointed to the Order of New Zealand in the New Year Honours 2012 for services to New Zealand. He passed away on 24 February 2013 at age 81, and was mourned and remembered in a large service in Dunedin on 28 February.

We have many books about Ralph Hotere here at the library:

Syndetics book coverRalph Hotere : black light : major works, including collaborations with Bill Culbert / [editors, Cilla McQueen … [et al.]]

Syndetics book coverRalph Hotere / with Kriselle Baker & Vincent O’Sullivan.

Syndetics book coverHotere : empty of shadows and making a shadow : lithographs by Ralph Hotere / Peter Vangioni, Jillian Cassidy ; introduction by Marian Maguire.

Syndetics book coverThe desire of the line : Ralph Hotere figurative works / Kriselle Baker.

As well as these, we have a DVD about Ralph Hotere:

Ralph Hotere / directed by Darcy Lange.

And even a video!

Hotere [videorecording] / a Paradise Films production ; written & directed by Merata Mita.
Discusses the artwork of New Zealand’s most famous contemporary Māori artist, Ralph Hotere. Suggested audience: general.

We also have a full collection at Central Library of Art New Zealand magazines, dating back to 1976. Ralph Hotere features in a huge number of them. If you need assistance to access the collection, just ask at any of our Central Library enquiries desks and we’ll be glad to help.

Harry Harrison (1925-2012)

Syndetics book coverThe American science fiction writer Harry Harrison has died aged 87. A prolific writer, he began his literary career writing for American comics and Science Fiction Magazines. His first novel Deathworld was published in 1960, 58 novels were to follow, also 9 collections of short stories, plus novellas, and non-fiction works. He edited numerous Science Fiction anthologies, many with fellow writer Brian Aldiss. His most well know novels were, The Stainless Steel Rat, Bill, the Galactic Hero and Deathworld, all series. All these novels are satirical and witty. Harry Harrison, was a dedicated advocate for the international language Esperanto, and includes some in his early novels. His last novel titled, The Stainless Steel Rat Returns was published in 2010.

Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

Syndetics book coverGore Vidal, the American writer has died aged 86 years. A prolific writer, social and political commentator, he published his first novel titled Williwaw in 1946. Twenty-four novels followed, these included a series of American historical fiction. He was also an accomplished journalist, screenwriter and playwright, but was best known for his numerous essays. His last published fiction was a collection of short stories titled Clouds and Eclipses; this was a republication of a 1956 collection titled A Thirsty Evil, with one new story added.

The great Ray Bradbury has died

Syndetics book coverThe American science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery writer, Ray Bradbury has died aged 91. He was born in Illinois in 1921. His first major works, The Martian Chronicles, were published in the 1950s. He continued his distinguished writing career, with another 26 published novels, and over 600 short stories. He also wrote for television, with some of his stories being adapted for programmes such as The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. His best known novels were also adapted to film. Fahrenheit 451 (published in 1954) was adapted to film in 1966, The Illustrated Man, three short stories, was adapted in 1969, and the horror novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes (published in 1969) was released as a movie in 1983.

Science Fiction author, John Christopher dies

Syndetics book coverThe well-known British Science Fiction author John Christopher has died aged 90. His real name was Christopher Samuel Youd, but he wrote under eight pseudonyms, with John Christopher, being the best known. A prolific writer, he was awarded the Guardian Award in 1976 for his children’s novel, The Guardians. His first major success as a writer came with his science fiction novel, The Death of Grass, published in 1956 and republished in 2009. It was adapted into film in 1970, as No Blade of Grass. He began writing science fiction for young adults in 1966, with the Tripods Trilogy, that became a quartet with A Pool of Fire, published in 1988. The Tripods novels were adapted into a television series.

Gordon Crook 1921 – 2011

Gordon Crook was born in England, and taught textile design at London’s Central School of Art. He came to New Zealand in 1972, where his art flourished. In 1979 he was commisioned to create 20 enormous banners for the New Zealand embassy in Washington, and a few years later made the banners that still hang in the entrance of the Michael Fowler Centre. In the decades that followed, his art – textiles, prints, paintings and collages – was exhibited throughout the country. Te Papa, who own some of his works, has a more detailed biography online here.

We hold a number of items that relate to Gordon Crook:

Gordon Crook : A Life of Art, is a a documentary from 2011 that looks at his life and his art. I personally recommend it.
Gordon Crook [Kaleidoscope]; this is a recording on VHS of the 1987 Kaleid0scope episode about his life, art, and philosophy.
Catelogue of an Exhibition of Tapestries and Drawings Based on the Theme of Adam and Eve (1978). Reference copy only.
Gordon Crook, by the Brooker Gallery. This was published in 1993, and is only 62 pages long, but is a very good collection of biographical articles and reproductions of Crook’s work.

Gordon Crook passed away on the 26th of August. In addition to being one of Wellington’s best artists, he was also a regular library user. He came in daily and was a friend to many library staff members; he will be sorely missed.

Henryk Mikolaj G&#243recki, 1933-2010

(From our Classical Music Popular Topic)

One of the leading Polish composers of the 20th (and 21st) Century, Górecki’s music has been compared to the likes of Messiaen and Arvo Pärt. He is best known for his Symphony No. 3 which reached number 6 in the British charts. You can read more about Górecki’s work and influence in this obituary in the Telegraph.

Syndetics book coverGórecki, by Adrian Thomas.
“This book is the first detailed study of Polish composer Henryk Górecki, whose Third Symphony, written in 1976 and released on CD in 1992, became a bestseller and brought Goreki international renown. Written by a leading enthusiast of Górecki’s music, this volume ranges from the composer’s large orchestral scores (Sconti, Refrain, the Symphonies) and choral works (Beatus Vir, commissioned by and dedicated to Pope John Paul II) to the more modest church songs and folk-song arrangements. Granted numerous interviews and access to unpublished material, the author discusses Górecki’s position as leader of the Polish avant-garde in the late 1950s, and his subsequent discovery of the folk and church music of Old Poland, most notably that of the Podhale region in southern Poland. The book includes a complete list of works since 1955 with details of instrumentation and recordings, and a select bibliography.” (Summary from catalogue)

Listen to some of his music on CD, or at the Naxos Music Library (you will need to enter your card number and surname).

British author Dame Beryl Bainbridge dies

The British novelist, dramatist and theatre critic, Dame Beryl Bainbridge has died aged 75.

Born in Liverpool in 1934, she worked as an actress and began writing after a disastrous marriage and relationship left her a single mother with three young children. Her first novel Harriet said was rejected many times and not published until 1972, four years after her third novel, Another part of the wood was published. In 1974 she won the Guardian Fiction Prize for The Bottle factory outing and in 1977 the Whitbread Prize for Injury time. Three of her 18 novels were short listed for the Booker Prize. Her slim novels are all urban black comedies, which highlight isolated eccentrics sometimes with violence, but often absurdity. Her last four novels have been based on historical events, Every man for himself, published in 1996 concerns the Titanic disaster, and Master Georgie is set during the Crimean War. Three of her novels were adapted to film. Beryl Bainbridge spent her life in Liverpool; she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

It is again very sad to know this is the end of such a prolific, wonderful entertaining body of work. If you have never read one of Beryl Bainbridge’ s novels, please start now, you will definitely not be disappointed, and I can guarantee you will want to read more.

Sources: Wikipedia

Writer Alan Sillitoe dies

The English writer Alan Sillitoe has died aged 82. Born in Nottingham, to a working class family he left school at 14 to work in the Raleigh cycle factory. Four years later he joined the RAF where he became a wireless operator. At 21 he was pensioned off from the RAF as he was ill with tuberculosis, and after this he spent the next seven years in France and Spain. His first novel about a young factory worker was published in 1958, titled Saturday night and Sunday Morning, and this became a best seller. It was produced as a film in 1960, for which he wrote the screenplay. With the success of this novel and film, Alan Sillitoe became known as another of England’s angry young men, joining playwright John Osborne and writer John Braine. He went on to write numerous novels, essays, poetry, plays, translations and some children’s books. He also wrote another three screenplays, the most successful was The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner based on his short story and released in 1962.

His last novel titled A Man of His Time was published in 2005.

Sources: Guardian, Wikipedia

Crime writer Dick Francis dies

Dick Francis, the prolific crime writer has died aged 89. He was one of the most popular crime novelists, with all his novels based in and around the horse-racing sport. The son of a jockey and stable manager, after leaving the RAF in 1946 he became a much celebrated winning jockey. From 1953 to 1957 he was jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. After a serious fall he retired and began a sixteen year career as a racing correspondent for the Sunday Express. His first novel Dead Cert was published in 1962 and was an instant success, from then 39 other crime novels followed and one collection of short stories. Whip Hand published in 1979 was the Edgar Award Gold Dagger winner and Come to Grief published in 1995 was another Edgar Award winner. His last three novels were co-written with his son Felix Francis, the most recent being Even Money.

Sources: BBC, Wikipedia

Robert B Parker, crime novelist dies

The prolific, bestselling American crime novelist Robert B Parker has died aged 77.

He received his Masters degree in English Literature in 1957 and began working in advertising, followed by a PhD in English literature from Boston University.  Leaving academia, he became a teacher. His first novel was published in 1971 and he became a full time writer in 1979, with by then, five published novels. He is best known for his Spenser novels, about a tough street wise private investigator. There have been 38 published novels in this series – Promised Land, his fourth Spenser novel received the Best Novel Award in 1977. Parker also developed four other character-based series including a western series. Appaloosa, published in 2005 was recently released as a motion picture. He also wrote some young adult fiction and several works of non-fiction. Brimstone, published in 2009, is the most recent novel received by Wellington City Libraries.