Cherry, Frances

Cherry, Frances



In Brief

Frances Cherry is a fiction writer for adults and children and has taught creative writing for more than twenty years. The daughter of well-known communist parents, a strong anti-establishment strand runs through her writing, and feminism and lesbianism are recurring concerns. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and have been collected as The Daughter-in-Law and Other Stories. She has written several adult novels and her work has been broadcast extensively on National Radio.


Cherry, Frances (1937 –) is a fiction writer for adults and children and has been a teacher of creative writing for more than twenty years.

Cherry was raised in Wellington and has lived in the region all her life. The daughter of well-known communist parents, accounts of her early life describe her embarrassment at finding her mother on a soapbox in Courtenay Place, or her father up Cuba Street selling the People's Voice.

Perhaps because of these early experiences, there is a strong anti-establishment strand in Cherry's writing. Feminism, lesbianism and identification with other women writers are also recurring concerns.

Short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including Shirley Temple is a Wife and Mother (1977); New Womens Fiction (1998); In Deadly Earnest (1989); Subversive Acts (1991); Erotic Writing (1992); and 100 New Zealand Short Short Stories (1997).

Mary Daysh writes: ‘Cherry is certainly a gifted writer who has sustained a consistent and high standard.’

Cherrys collection of short fiction is The Daughter-in-Law And Other Stories (1986). Her novels for adults are Dancing With Strings (1989); The Widowhood of Jacki Bates (1991); and Washing Up in Parrot Bay (1999).

Alison Laurie describes Washing Up in Parrot Bay as ‘...thoughtful, witty and topical... a refreshing and open-hearted look at New Zealand women involved in complex relationships with other women and men.’

In The Dark (1999), is Cherry's novel for junior readers. It shows a family custody dispute from the child's point of view.

Frances Cherry's fiction has been extensively broadcast on National Radio, including an adaptation of her novel The Widowhood of Jacki Bates. She has tutored creative writing since 1980, and has been a judge in numerous writing competitions.

Leon (2000) was shortlisted in the Senior Fiction category of the 2001 New Zealand Post Childrens Book Awards.

Gate Crasher (Earl of Sea Cliff Art Workshop, 2006) is Cherry's latest collection of short stories. As Ronda Bungay writers, Gate Crasher takes the random and turns it; there is a sense of intimacy, a feeling of being inside the stories, an underlying knowing that nothing remains unhidden here.

Flashpoint was published by Scholastic in 2006. It is a story about a teenage girls life that gets turned on its head just as everything was going well. It is described by a reviewer as ‘that sort of book — you open it, start reading, and feel compelled to finish.’

Cherry's latest novel is Kyla (Scholastic, 2009), a story about a young girl coming to terms with the death of her grandmother, her only caregiver. Kyla is faced with having to leave the only home she's ever known to live with an aunt who she thinks hated her grandmother. But as time goes on, Kyla realises that she hasn't been told the whole truth...

Tania Roxborogh of the Otago of the Otago Daily Times says of Kyla, "mothers and teachers will recognise [her behaviour]; young girls will understand [her] frustrations. This a wonderful novel to get as a present for your pre-teens and for the library... [with an] ending to satisfy the most cynical of us".

Updated January 2017.