Janet Frame was born in 1924. She is the author of 11 adult novels and one for younger readers, a poetry collection, and an autobiographical trilogy. Her mental illness and stories stemming from it, contributed to her fame. After a suicide attempt she spent much of the next eight years in various mental hospitals, during which time she was given about 200 electroshock treatments as she was believed to have schizophrenia. She was saved from a scheduled lobotomy when a volume of her short stories won a national literary prize. Some years later, an American-trained psychiatrist working in London proposed that she did not have schizophrenia - a conclusion that did not please Frame who later wrote, "'Oh why had they robbed me of my schizophrenia, which had been the answer to all my misgivings about myself?' She began regular therapy sessions with psychoanalyst Robert Hugh Cawley, who encouraged her to write; seven of her novels are dedicated to him.
She won the the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989 for her final novel, The Carpathians. According to the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, 'Ms. Frame created romantic visionaries - eccentrics, mad people, epileptics - and pitted them against the repressive forces of a sterile, conformist society.' Frame died from leukemia in 2004 after being one of the first recipients of the New Zealand Icon Award. Counterpoint Press will be publishing a collection of Frame's work in May.
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