by George J. Dance

Basil Dowling. Courtesy Presbyterian Research.

Basil Cairns Dowling (1910-2000) was a New Zealand poet.[1]

Life[edit | edit source]

Youth and education[edit | edit source]

Dowling was born in Southbridge (near Canterbury), South Island, the youngest of 5 brothers. His father, Thomas T. Dowling, died when Basil was 9 years old, and his mother when he was 13.[2]

He attended St. Andrew's College, Christchurch, and then studied history at Canterbury University College, graduating in 1932. He then studied at Knox College, Dunedin, and in 1936 came to Britain to study postgraduate theology at Westminster College, Cambridge.[2]

Career[edit | edit source]

Dowling became a minister in Wellington, and the Chaplain of Scots College from 1938 to 1941. A pacifist, he spoke out against New Zealand's entry into World War II, and was imprisoned for 3 months for sedition. He renounced his ministry and spent the balance of the war years working in a market garden.[1]

After the war Dowling worked as a reference librarian, and later as deputy librarian, at Otago University.[1]

He moved in 1952 to England, where he taught at Downside Preparatory School until 1954, and then at Raine’s Foundation Grammar School (where he became head of the English Department) until his retirement in 1975.[1]

Writing[edit | edit source]

R.J. Bartelott, The Independent (9 September 2000): “While remaining constant to his native background, Basil Dowling became increasingly aware of the social and political issues of his time, ever true to his profoundly humane and radical views. He has left a body of carefully constructed poetry, full of sanity and wisdom, which achieves the dimension of ‘verbal magic’ for which he aimed.”[3]

Otago Daily Times (29 July, 2000): "Allen Curnow said that [Dowling] had a gift ‘for catching a commonplace offguard’ and was ‘a quiet poet of carefully arranged understatements’."[3]

Peter Simpson, Auckland University: “He had a liking for regular metres, tidy stanzas and full rhymes – traditional forms which he handled with grace and ease ... poetry so well made will not easily be forgotten.”[3]

Publications[edit | edit source]

Poetry[edit | edit source]

  • A Day's Journey: Poems. . Christchurch, NZ: Caxton, 1941.
  • Signs and Wonders: Poems. Christchurch, NZ: Caxton, 1944.
  • Canterbury, and other poems. Christchurch, NZ: Caxton, 1949.
  • Hatherley: Recollective lyrics. Dunedin, NZ: Bibliography Room, University of Otago, 1968.
  • A Little Gallery of Characters. Christchurch, NZ: Nag's Head, 1971.
  • Bedlam: A mid-century satire. Christchurch, NZ: Nag's Head, 1972.
  • The Unreturning Native, and other poems. Christchurch, NZ: Nag's Head, 1973.
  • The Stream: A reverie of boyhood. Christchurch, NZ: Nag's Head, 1979.
  • Windfalls, and other poems. Christchurch, NZ: Nag's Head, 1983.
  • Selected Poems (edited by Virginia F. Strauss & Imogen Jasch). Vienna: Global Vision, 2004.

Non-fiction[edit | edit source]

  • The Message of the Church. Wellington: New Zealand Student Christian Movement, [1936?]

"Autumn Scene," by Basil Dowling

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Biography, Basil Dowling Selected Poems. Web, Mar. 22, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Obituary: Basil Dowling, The Independent, September 9, 2000. Highbeam Research, Web, Mar. 22, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Basil Dowling, Wix. Web, June 30, 2019.
  4. Search results = au:Basil Dowling, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Mar. 22, 2014.

External links[edit | edit source]

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