Leila Adair at Palmerston North

Within minutes the balloon started to collapse. Frank hastily emptied it, and Lillian returned to her dressing room. In no time at all Frank was pounding on the door, ‘Leila, they’ve stopped the cab and locked the gates. The crowd is hooting.’ ‘Didn’t you tell them we needed more chemicals?’ ‘Dunk says the shops will... Continue Reading →

Social Issues of the 1890s: Larrikins

Her debut, if measured by the reaction of the larrikins up in the gallery, was a huge success. They cheered, stamped their boot heels on the floor, catcalled over the heads of the more respectable crowd below, and made some rather indecent remarks. Lillian, her cheeks flushed by her exertions and with the same unreal... Continue Reading →

James William Price: Balloonist

‘I’m loathe to raise this with ladies present, Price, but I’ve received a letter from your child-bride, the delightful Georgia Angell, enquiring of your whereabouts. She’s most anxious to ascertain that you weren’t involved in the tragic events in Honolulu. It seems she’s lost contact with you since you left Salt Lake City and very... Continue Reading →

Park Van Tassel: Aeronaut

‘There’s nothing the public likes more,’ Professor Park Van Tassel declared, ‘than the possibility of witnessing an accident.’ He plucked a chrysanthemum from the waiting bouquet, slotted it into the buttonhole of his double-breasted suit, and leaned towards the mirror to adjust the waxed tips of his moustache to a jaunty angle. ‘You must believe... Continue Reading →

Like A Stone: Time & Place

Lillian dressed then stole down the stairs and out the hotel’s side entrance to make her way down to the harbour. She crushed the wild fennel that lined the path, releasing its pungent smell into the soft gauze of the morning air. Ridges of grey pebbles and clumps of driftwood fringed the tide-line. Gulls bobbed... Continue Reading →

Down the Rabbit Hole: Research

One of my favourite writers is Emma Donoghue, author of the best-selling Room, but I particularly like her book of short stories The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. In the foreword, Emma writes: [This] is a book of fictions, but they are also true. Over the last ten years, I have often stumbled over... Continue Reading →

Sequah: Medicine Man

On securing lodgings at the Central Hotel in Auckland, they were confronted with a most extraordinary sight. A man dressed in the manner of Buffalo Bill — fringed buckskin, a wide-brimmed sombrero, and long flowing locks down to his shoulders — pulled up outside the hotel in a four-horse golden chariot. ‘What on earth is... Continue Reading →

Madame Cora de Lamond: Magicienne

Madame Cora came forward to greet them. Over her greying hair, she’d draped a spangled, gauzy black fabric which, despite being torn in a few places, gave the impression of an Indian sari. She cultivated an air of eccentricity; whether it was for effect or to discomfort them, Lillian wasn’t sure. First of all, she... Continue Reading →

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