Friday, 29 June 2012

Juliet Hulme

Working in the Central Auckland Research Centre, one does tend to fancy oneself as a bit of a Nancy Drew at times. As we locate missing relatives and solve mysteries, we hope don’t start too many world wars in unsuspecting families.

Whilst scrolling through microfilms on a job for a customer, I came across an interesting photo in a 1948 copy of the Auckland Star. The caption reads: “Juliet Hulme and William Brown make a colourful picture in their bright tartan slacks when they arrived at Whenuapai this morning.” The issue was dated Tuesday 23 March 1948.

Could it be .... I wondered. Was this the murderess Juliet Hulme, aka Anne Perry, aka Kate Winslet in ‘Heavenly Creatures’? And why was Juliet and the boy, who appeared not to be related, wearing matching tartan slacks? Juliet did have a younger brother called Jonathan but it seems he arrived in New Zealand much later in the year with their parents. Naturally, I went ahead and sleuthed.

Ref: Auckland Star, cutting from 23 March 1948
In the collection here in the research centre, we have the most recent investigation into the Parker-Hulme business, ‘So Brilliantly Clever’  by Peter Graham. I flicked through to see if it was likely to be the same Juliet Hulme, or even to see if the photo itself had been included in Peter Graham's book. It had not, but there was a picture of Juliet around the same time and she looks much the same.

I sleuthed further. Juliet had indeed come to New Zealand in 1948 although not with her parents and brother. According to Graham, she had been sent to the Bahamas in 1947 to live with friends of the family, apparently due to ill health.  At some point she had arrived in New Zealand, spent time in the Bay of Islands, and met up with her folks later in the year. Graham estimated her arrival to be between February and April 1948. The Auckland Star photo was dated 23 March.

Graham also writes that the names of Juliet’s Bahama ‘foster parents’ were not known, and her mother never mentioned them in her correspondence. One might be led to conclude, however, taking into consideration Juliet, her travelling companion, and the matching tartan slacks, that the family was called Brown and that they had a little boy called William.  And, incidentally, ‘So Brilliantly Clever’ is a finalist in the NZ Post Book of the Year awards.

For all those budding sleuths out there, older copies of the Auckland Star from 1870 to 1926 can viewed and searched on the Papers Past website.

Author: Joanne Graves, Central Auckland Research Centre

7 comments:

  1. What an interesting find and what fantastic detectiving!

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  2. Glad you enjoyed the post. We have very talented staff in our research centres :)

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  3. Topical in the news at the moment [please copy & paste into your browser]: http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/the-internaut/in-the-new-listener-on-sale-from-29-07-12/

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  4. Interesting! Check the photo section in Joanne Drayton's biography "The Search for Anne Perry" and you'll see a photo of Juliet in similar tartan slacks.

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  5. It is indeed Juliet. Joanne Drayton writes about Juliet's time with the Brown[e] family in the Bahamas. She was sent there by her parents because of her ill health. There were two brothers and this is the younger brother William.

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  6. Joanne Graves - Auckland Research Centre30 August 2012 at 16:34

    Thanks for the comments - I'm really looking forward to finally reading Juliet's story in the new book.

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  7. Books that change lives - acclaimed New Zealand biographer Joanne Drayton will reveal the story behind her book about Juliet Hulme aka Anne Perry at the Havelock North Library on Wednesday 20 March at 6pm.

    For more information, please copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1302/S00685/books-really-do-change-lives.htm

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