James Courage's Diaries

The novelist and playwright James Courage was born in Christchurch in 1903, and he became aware of his homosexuality during his adolescent years. His book A Way of Love was the first published gay novel written by a New Zealander. Courage's private diaries, which he started writing while he was a student at Christ's College, are a treasure trove of information about the author's sexuality and the multiple ways in which his intimate life reflected a wider world undergoing considerable change. The diaries reveal the ideas, books and cultures Courage encountered and tell of the interactions between his identity and broader contexts and ideas. Sexuality, literature, friendship and travel are important themes, along with Courage's psychotherapeutic treatment later in life. The diaries are beautifully written and contain incisive and often acidic observations about other people as well as Courage himself.

This project will edit James Courage's fourteen diaries, written between 1920 and 1963. Some 70-80,000 words of excerpts will be published alongside a substantial introduction that outlines the structure of the diaries and explores their wider significance in conversation with the existing literature on Courage's life and work. The volume will be illustrated with some of the images from Courage's photographic archive.