A life in words
Multi-talented 7 Saint Vincent resident Ann Gluckman has more than a few strings to her bow. She was the first woman in New Zealand to be appointed principal of a state co-ed secondary school, and in 1992 was awarded an OBE.
The high-achieving 93 year old was – and still is – a prolific writer and has written and edited a wide range of books including Postcards from Tukums: a Family Detective Story, Ageing is Attitude: the New Zealand Experience and Identity and Involvement: Auckland Jewry Past and Present.
I came from a family that loved books and my mother was a brilliant letter writer. I was also inspired by a wonderful teacher at Epsom Girls Grammar, in 1994, I topped the University Entrance Scholarship English exam,” Ann says.
Her writing career officially began when she wrote articles to promote the Playcentre movement from 1951, articles for the local paper, and was writing articles on education regularly from 1970. In 1975, The Woman’s Weekly published her obituary to Louise Hillary entitled When Louise believed in Fairies, the first of many articles Ann wrote, mainly on travel for the Weekly, as well as for the Auckland Star and the NZ Herald.
As part of her inspiring writing career, Ann has edited eight books which included sizeable sections written by her. The principal works are three volumes entitled Identity and Involvement: The Story of Auckland Jewry, and these were published in 1990, 1993 and 2020.
But of all her books, the one Ann says has had the greatest impact on her is, emotionally, Postcards from Tukums. “It revealed so much to me about the terrifying life my mother had as a child growing up in Tsarist-ruled Latvia,” Ann says.
Ann’s mother never spoke about her life before she came to New Zealand at the age of 12.
It was only by chance a box containing her letters and postcards was found 20 years after her death, when I was in my seventies.”
I’m inspired by my family and people of my vintage, who despite infirmities continue to do much of worth for the community, friends and family,” Ann says.
Ann’s writing career has taken her to exotic places, including travelling as a tour guide to some very remote places such as Pakistan, Turkey and Burma, each on numerous occasions.
But she says the most rewarding aspect of it all is hearing from people who have enjoyed what she’s written, especially when people want to follow up on certain aspects.
Writing has always been my favourite form of relaxation! I’m still writing short stories, one of which was published in the March 2021 edition of ‘News @ 7’, Saint Vincent’s monthly booklet.”
Her advice is those keen to try their hand at writing is “don’t force it”.
Mull over it. Pick up a pen (metaphorically today) and get the first sentence onto paper. If you’re ready, inspiration will flow.”
While she’s mastered the art of writing and editing, Ann says she aims to become more efficient with computer skills, and needs to learn much more about bridge.