Ms Joy Cowley has been one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful writers since the 1960s and has made a strong contribution to both literature and literacy.
Ms Cowley began her career writing novels for adults and published several such novels during the 1970s, following her debut book ‘Nest in a Falling Tree’ (1967). She is best known for her children’s fiction, which includes the books ‘The Silent One’ (1981), ‘Bow Down Shadrach’ (1991) and its sequel ‘Gladly, Here I Come’ (1994).
She has written 41 children’s picture books and has emphasised the need for children to see themselves in the books they read, particularly in their early years. She has been heavily involved in teaching early reading skills and helping those with reading difficulties. In this capacity she has written more than 1,000 reading books to assist in teaching reading and associated skills to schoolchildren. Her books are renowned internationally and are used in more than 70 percent of American schools. She is a patron and former Trustee of the Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust, which supports and promotes the development of children’s and young adults’ literature in New Zealand.
She has been widely recognised with numerous national and international literary awards throughout her career, including the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in fiction in 2010 and the University of Alabama’s Maryann Manning Award for Outstanding Literacy Scholar in 2011. Since being appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 she has continued to write for publication, the most recent book being ‘Helper and Helper’ in 2017. As Honorary President of the New Zealand Society of Authors Ms Cowley delivered the 2011 Janet Frame Lecture.
HONOURS AND AWARDS
Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Queen’s Birthday 2005
Officer of the Order of the British Empire, New Year 1992
Massey University, Honorary Doctor of Literature, 1993
New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993
New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal