Peter Walker

Peter Walker was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1947. He grew up in Christchurch and Hawkes Bay and studied literature and law at university in Wellington and Auckland. In the 1970s he travelled widely in Asia, Europe and America and began a career in journalism in 1976. He worked on newspapers in NZ and Australia before moving to England to join the newly-formed »Independent« where he worked on the Foreign Desk for seven years. During this time he reviewed fiction and non-fiction for the paper and for Auberon Waugh’s »Literary Review«. He then became Foreign Editor of the »Independent on Sunday«. In 1996 he was commissioned by »Granta« magazine to write a long piece on race relations in New Zealand.

This commission led to his first book »The Fox Boy« (2001) in which he uncovers the true story of a Maori child kidnapped in the 1860s. His plan was not to write either history or fiction but to turn to two lesser genres, the travelogue and the op-ed feature, whose vivid rhythms nonetheless might make a narrative that was relaxed, wide-ranging and multi-tonal, and able to move through different dimensions simultaneously – both across the contemporary landscape and down through time. A model was Amitav Ghosh’s »In an Antique Land«. His next book »The Courier’s Tale« (2010) is a novel about the life of Reginald Pole, the cousin of Henry VIII, who lived at the centre of the late Renaissance in Italy, and was the only man of whom it was ever said »He is sure to be next pope – or next king of England«. The work is described as a »documentary novel« by which is meant simply this – every document cited in it, whether a tailor’s bill or a spy’s report, does exist and can be read in the archives today. As in »The Fox Boy«, the writer’s intention was to see how the life of a minor individual is not only written upon by the forces of history but can still radiate that history in ways that are as powerful, and perhaps more lucid, than the lives of the great figures of the time.

Peter Walker has just completed a new novel, working title »Cape Runaway«, set in the late sixties and the present decade, with the theme of love and war over two generations. He lives in London.

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