Margaret Mahy - She Dead
Margaret Mahy, the author who gave New Zealand the gift of such brilliant children’s books as The Lion in the Meadow and The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate, died at the age of 76 in a Christchurch hospice last Monday night after losing her battle with cancer.
Mahy arguably found her point of difference from other children’s writers in her ability to tackle challenging issues with intelligence and a sense of fun. Her trademark wit made Mahy’s stories genuinely enjoyable for parents who were reading to their children, a concept later ripped off by “kids’ books that also appeal to adults” staples such as Harry Potter. Let it never be forgotten that Margaret Mahy invented that shit.
Mahy started writing at the age of seven, putting pen to paper “in a spirit of implacable plagiarism because, reading widely as I did, I rapidly came to feel that everything worthwhile had already been written.” In keeping with that same spirit, Critic plagiarised this quote from the New York Times.
As well as her more than 45 published books, Mahy provided the concept for the BBC’s TV series Maddigan’s Quest, which depicted the story of a girl in a post-Apocalyptic world who, along with the rest of her circus troupe, journeys to find a new Solar Converter to save her town. The show was aired in New Zealand in 2006.
Mahy was undoubtedly the queen of New Zealand literature, to the point where her contemporary rival Joy Cowley was regarded as having received a compliment when she was described as “The Poor Man’s Margaret Mahy”.
One of Mahy’s more popular works, Raging Robots and Unruly Uncles, tells the story of a criminal family who are given a robot programmed to be pure evil, and a virtuous family who receive an enchanted living doll determined to “improve” others. While the plot has great potential, the hilarious writing style is what made the story so outstanding. At one stage, the “good” robot hopes to adjust the bad robot’s ethics dial, which is stuck on “super-villainous”, to “merely bad”, or even better, “downright inconsiderate”.
A public memorial service has been planned for Wednesday August 1 at Christchurch’s Hagley Park Dome, where Critic expects the city to shake with grief as her stories are read out to the crowd.