Joy Cowley

Over the last 50 years Joy Cowley has published hundreds of books for both children and adults, with a particular focus on works that help children learn to read. She is the recepient of numerous awards including being appointed a Member of the Order of NZ.

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s most prodigious writers, crafting timeless work for more than 50 years that has entranced readers. Best known for her picture books, early readers and chapter books for young readers – most famously the Mrs. Wishy-Washy series – Cowley is also an accomplished author of adult novels, short story collections and a play. Her writing life began with adult work with her first novel adapted for screen by none other than Roald Dahl. She began creating stories for children to help her eldest son who, like her, had been slow to read. The books available at that time were lacking, she has said: “Nowhere, did I find my own country and I was of the opinion that we were unworthy of books.” Thus began a lifetime’s work of addressing the gap, starting with publishing in The School Journal and as a contributor to Wendy Pye’s Story Box reading programme.

Cowley is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including for The Silent One, Ticket to the Sky Dance and Friends: Snake and Lizard. For her services to children’s literature she has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM). She is also a Member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) and was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Letters (D.Litt) from Massey University. She is the founder and patron of the Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation.

Celebrate this remarkable life in writing in this free session to end the Festival, as Joy Cowley joins Carole Beu on stage.



$2 per hour to a max of $12 on weekends and a $12 flat rate for weekday evenings at The Civic car park. Find out more

Last updated: 11 June 2019