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White, Louise Lawrence
Writer's File

Louise Lawrence White

White, Louise Lawrence
In brief
Louise Lawrence White was a poet and editor. Her poetry appeared in a range of journals and magazines, and in the anthology Spectacular Babies (2001). She worked extensively as a freelance writer and her editing work included the Penguin Book of New Zealand Letters (2003). This volume consists of 167 letters written by contributors such as Hone Heke, Katherine Mansfield, and James K. Baxter. Louise Lawrence White passed away in 2009.


White, Louise Lawrence (1949-2009) was a poet and editor. She had re-married and her name became Louise St John, though she published her writing under the names White and Lawrence.

White was born in Auckland and raised in Carterton. She attended Victoria University of Wellington where she received a BA in 1977. In 2000 she returned to Victoria for Bill Manhire’s MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

White began her professional life as a freelance writer and editor working for such varied publications as NZ Home, Building Magazine and Festival News for the NZ International Festival of the Arts. She became a full-time writer.

As an editor White worked with Gregory O’Brien to produce Big Weather: Poems of Wellington (2000). Big Weather was short-listed for the Book Data New Zealand Booksellers’ Choice Award 2001.  

The following year White’s poetry appeared in Spectacular Babies (2001). Edited by Karen Anderson and Bill Manhire, Spectacular Babies features work from the 2000 class of Manhire’s MA programme. David Hill, in the NZ Herald, writes that 'White conveys a similar sense of discovery and links it lucidly to the genesis and growth of her own work. An opening line drops away; a degree of ambiguity takes precedence over seeming too obvious.'

White’s poetry also appeared in Australian Review of Books, Meanjin, the NZ Listener, Sport and New Zealand Books.

In 2002 Big Weather featured as part of Wellington on Show: celebrating our Arts & Heritage. For the celebration, the New Zealand Book Council organised three readings featuring the poetry from the collection. Louise White introduced each of the readings.

Lawrence edited the Penguin Book of New Zealand Letters which was published in 2003. The collection of 167 letters opens with the Lords of the Admiralty commissioning Lieutenant Cook to the command of the Endeavour in 1768, and closes with e-mails from Ingrid Horrocks writing from Princeton after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Denis Clifford writes in the Capital Times 'Editor Louise Lawrence has ... added an important brick — or a number of bricks — to the edifice of our self identity.'

Louise Lawrence White passed away in November 2009.

July 2023
July 2023