By Eric H. McCormick
Eric McCormick was once, from approximately 1940 until eventually his dying in 1995, one in every of New Zealand's so much exceptional writers and students. He pioneered the appreciation and learn of the painter Francis Hodgkins, and he wrote a number of biographies. The autobiographical fragments accrued the following were edited to make a coherent quantity, tracing his origins in Taihape, to varsity and college in Wellington, to schoolteaching in Nelson, to Cambridge and during his wartime studies and position as editor of Centennial courses. It contains his intelligent observations of social behaviour, recorded with a dry wit.
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Extra resources for An Absurd Ambition
Expectations were that business would expand and the town grow even to the size of such a metropolis as Palmerston North. Eric Hall McCormick and his sister Myra, 1907. ERIC MCCORMICK COLLECTION, ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY, P-AC 5030–027. Even with the more sedate growth which actually occurred, my father modestly prospered. In fact he might have merited a brief reference in Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help, a book he brought with him from the South Island. William James Hall McCormick was an Ulsterman, the second-youngest in a family of seven, born in the market town of Rathfryland where his father was an agent employed to collect the linen made by cottage weavers.
On Sunday afternoon there was a ritual walk, my mother in her most fantastic garments (I overheard a group of children as we passed discussing whether the bunch of violets in her hat was genuine), my father in his customary suit of pepper and salt with bowler hat, walking with proprietary air and twirling his cane on the gutter-side of the street. There followed tea in the sitting room, with plates of golden-brown toast to be eaten informally and uncomfortably at a diminutive occasional table. When the tea things were cleared we sat around the fire, talking a little and perhaps reading from story-books.
After they moved to Auckland from Wellington in 1947, they lived for eight years in Grafton Terrace, a short street which has long since been sacrificed to the motorway, in a house which they at first rented from the University Librarian, Alice Minchin, and later bought from her. As Myra neared retirement, in 1954, her work as a public health nurse, mainly among Maori families, took her to Harrybrook Road in Green Bay. There she saw a site, overlooking the Manukau Harbour, on which a couple had started to build a house while living in a two-room bach.