Betty Gilderdale is a scholar, educator, and an expert on New Zealand children’s literature. She has worked as a lecturer, and her pioneering study, A Sea Change: 145 Years of New Zealand Junior Fiction (1982), won the PEN Award for best first book of prose. She has written numerous research papers, reviews of children’s books, as well as entries in reference publications. She is the author of the hugely popular Little Yellow Digger series. Gilderdale’s major biography, The Seven Lives of Lady Barker, was published in 1996. The Betty Gilderdale Award has been named in her honour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gilderdale, Betty (1923 - ) was born in London and now lives on Auckland's North Shore. She graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in English from the University of London in 1949 and moved to New Zealand in 1967.
Gilderdale was a lecturer at North Shore Teachers’ College from 1969-1981 and then at the Auckland College of Education from 1981-1985. She worked as a Lecturer in the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Auckland.
Gilderdale is a ground-breaking scholar of New Zealand children’s literature. Her pioneering study, A Sea Change: 145 Years of New Zealand Junior Fiction (1982), won the PEN Award for best first book of prose, and her chapter in the Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English is highly regarded. She has also written extensively on New Zealand children’s authors for such major international reference sources as the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Post-Colonial Literatures (1994), the St James’ Press Twentieth Century Children’s Writers (1995), and Oxford University Press’s Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History (1995).
The author of many research papers and a regular reviewer of children’s books and a columnist for the New Zealand Herald from 1973 to 1998, she has also written introductions to children’s texts and is a writer for children (including the award-winning Introducing Margaret Mahy, 1987) and, with Alan Gilderdale, The Little Yellow Digger (1992); she compiled Under the Rainbow: A Treasury of New Zealand Stories (1990); and translated and wrote an opera libretto, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for composer John Rimmer. In 1991, Gilderdale published Introducing 21 New Zealand Children's Writers.
In 1994, Gilderdale received the prestigious Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award, given annually by the New Zealand Children's Book Foundation. The award recognises significant and distinguished contribution to children's literature.
Her major biography, The Seven Lives of Lady Barker, was published in 1996.
Gilderdale is a past president and life member of the Children’s Literature Association of New Zealand, and is founder and past president of the Children’s Media Watch group.
In 2000, she donated her extensive collection of New Zealand children’s books as a research collection to the University of Auckland Library. The CLA Award for Services to Children’s Literature was renamed the Betty Gilderdale Award in her honour.
In 2003, Betty and Alan Gilderdale received the Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book for The Little Yellow Digger.
Gilderdale is also the author of The Little Digger and the Bones (Scholastic, 2009), illustrated by her husband Alan, and part of the series which includes The Little Yellow Digger at the Zoo (Scholastic, 1999), The Little Yellow Digger Saves the Whale (Scholastic, 2001) and The Little Yellow Digger Goes to School (Scholastic, 2005).
Her autobiography, My Life in Two Halves, was published by David Bateman in 2012. The engaging memoir details her rich life of diverse experiences and the people she has met along the way.
Updated September 2017.