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Ashton-Warner, Sylvia

Ashton-Warner, Sylvia

Ashton-Warner, Sylvia, 1905-84, New Zealand British novelist and educator, b. Stratford, New Zealand. For years a teacher of Maori children, Ashton-Warner developed many stimulating educational methods about which she wrote in the treatise Teacher (1963) and in successive volumes of her autobiography (1967, 1972, 1979). Her success as a teacher and as a writer stemmed from her conviction that communication must produce a mutual response if it is to bring about lasting change. Spearpoint: Teacher in America (1972) recounted her experiences teaching in an experimental school in the United States. Ashton-Warner's novels were written in an exotic, rather florid style and for the most part concern strong, passionate women. They include Spinster (1958), Incense to Idols (1960), Bell Call (1964), Greenstone (1967), and Three (1970).

See study by L. Hood (1989).

Sylvia Constance Ashton-Warner, (December 17 1908 - April 28 1984), New Zealand writer, poet and educator, was born on December 17, 1908, in Stratford, New Zealand. She spent many years teaching Māori children, using stimulating and often pioneering techniques which she wrote about in her 1963 treatise Teacher and in the various volumes of her autobiography. Her success derived from a commitment to "releasing the native imagery and using it for working material" and her belief that communication must produce a mutual response in order to affect a lasting change. As a novelist, she produced several works mostly centred around strong female characters. Her novel Spinster (1958) was made into the 1961 film Two Loves (also known as The Spinster) starring Shirley MacLaine. She was awarded an MBE for services to education and literature.

Ashton-Warner died on April 28, 1984, in Tauranga. Her life story was adapted for the 1985 biographical film Sylvia, based on her work and writings, and she was honoured at the University of Auckland—the institution at which she trained between 1928 and 1929—where the Faculty of Education library was named the Sylvia Ashton-Warner Library in 1987.

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"You must be true to yourself. Strong enough to be true to yourself. Brave enough to be strong enough to be true to yourself. Wise enough to be brave enough to be strong enough to shape yourself from what you actually are"

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