Friday, 12 July 2013

Joanne Drayton Arrives from Outer Space

A selfie of Joanne Drayton and Michael Haag
Joanne Drayton has arrived from outer space.  Well, from New Zealand, which is much the same thing.  And it has fallen to me to introduce her to Earth as we know it, that is to Hampstead NW3.

We have been to see George Orwell and John Constable and Johnny Keats - or rather the site of the bookshop where Orwell worked while writing Keep the Aspidistra Flying, the graveyard where Constable lies, and Keats' House where the poet's death mask floats eerily in the ether like the Mekon.  

Jo Drayton meets the dead John Keats
Jo has written biographies of two world famous New Zealand crime writers, The Search for Anne Perry, and Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime.  She has also written a life of Rhona Haszard, the wonderful post-impressionist painter who mysteriously fell to her death from the tower at Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt.  In fact I got to know Jo when tracking down a photograph of Rhona Haszard that appeared in her book Rhona Haszard: An Experimental Expatriate New Zealand Artist, which I reproduced in my own Vintage Alexandria.
To find out more about Joanne Drayton and her books, click here to see her website.  

Rhona Haszard watering flowers on the rooftop of Victoria College, Alexandria. She mysteriously fell to her death from the tower behind.