(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

An Autobiography is a powerful account of one woman’s difficult journey from childhood through a painful adolescence and young adulthood to her gradual emergence as a writer. Frame’s book is a testament to the determination to write that somehow survived her devastating years of hospitalization and personal tragedy, and her story is an illuminating look at a writer’s development. Frame’s growth as a writer is chronicled throughout the book, beginning with her first improvised story as a small child. She discusses both the joy and the salvation that she found in writing and the difficult and day-to-day tedium of sitting alone in a room with only her typewriter for company; one of the book’s most important contributions is the success with which it conveys a sense of the writer’s life.

Beautifully written itself, the book is also a celebration of the writers whose work inspired and influenced Frame. She quotes frequently from poems that were important to her throughout the various stages of her life and describes the chords that they struck in her own experience. Frame’s love of literature is a sustaining force in her troubled life, and her own need to write is both a lifesaving means of self-expression and a longing to become a part of the creative realm that has played such a crucial role in her own development. Her autobiography explores the link between the artist and the world of art that has preceded her; for Frame, this...

(The entire section is 444 words.)

An Autobiography Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Frame, Janet. The Carpathians. New York: George Braziller, 1988. In this novel, a woman from New York moves to a small New Zealand town. This meditative exploration of inner and outer worlds received the 1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Frame, Janet. Faces in the Water. New York: George Braziller, 1961. Frame’s fictional portrait of a woman’s hospitalization in a mental institution draws on her own experiences. Its heroine, Istina Mavet, undergoes the trauma of mental illness amid New Zealand’s then-primitive approach to treatment.

Frame, Janet. Living in the Maniototo. New York: George Braziller, 1979. A strange, comic story centering on a woman with multiple identities, among them a writer and a ventriloquist. The novel is an exploration of the creative process.

Frame, Janet. Owls Do Cry. New York: George Braziller, 1960. Frame’s first novel draws heavily on her own New Zealand childhood and family life. The book helped to establish her literary reputation.

Frame, Janet. A State of Siege. New York: George Braziller, 1966. This novel offers a perceptive, thought-provoking examination of the psyche of a woman who, freed from difficult responsibilities, retreats to an idyllic island.