Cover reveal: my ‘Illustrated History of New Zealand’

I don’t often blog about the writing I’m doing – but occasionally it’s time to reveal a little about the adventure. I’ve got two books being published this year. The first is a second edition of my Illustrated History of New Zealand, originally published in 2004. Today I’m pleased and very excited to be able to bring you a preview of the cover.

Wright_New Zealand Illustrated coverIt’s being released in three weeks as a second edition with completely revised text, revised and updated photo selection and a whole new look, by David Bateman Ltd.

Originally it was published as the Reed Illustrated History of New Zealand (first edition cover in brown, below). Reed New Zealand were synonymous with New Zealand publishing, and our oldest publishing house. That 2004 edition sold like hotcakes – Reed ordered a reprint even before the book was released, just to meet pre-orders from retailers. It hit the national best seller lists and did astonishingly well.

With my military histories, this book was one of the titles that the Royal Historical Society at University College in London considered of such worth that they elected me a Fellow – the highest international accolade it is possible to get in the historical field.

Then in 2007  Reed were sold to another publisher in a train-wreck of a take-over that saw the imprint vanish for legal reasons. My back list was left to wither in out-of-print land.

nz_smallIn 2011 I approached David Bateman Ltd about republishing my Illustrated History. They were keen. What followed involved a lot of paperwork – including rights retrieval, and re-negotiating the rights for nearly 600 images from the Alexander Turnbull Library. Everybody there was wonderfully friendly and helpful.

On 18 August, my Illustrated History of New Zealand will be back, published by Bateman. But it’s not a reprint. It’s been completely revised. Two chapters were wholly re-written from scratch – and yes, things have changed that much in terms of what we know about the past. Beyond those, every section has been re-thought and the text wholly re-styled and re-written with updated material. Yes, even history can be updated. The process of discovery never stops.

I put as much work into it as I would have into a new title. Maybe more, and it is, effectively, a new book. There are 120,000 words, just under 600 photos, and around 10,000 words worth of captions, presented in 488 large-format pages. It is a big book by any measure, a proverbial doorstop. The original was case-bound; this edition, which has a completely new interior look, is soft-cover with French flaps – long folded extensions that carry the blurb and my author photo.

More soon, including a glimpse inside and other cool stuff. Meanwhile – here’s the cover. Enjoy.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013


11 thoughts on “Cover reveal: my ‘Illustrated History of New Zealand’

  1. Congratulations! Our past exchanges about publishing, academics, and history is the context in which I base this reaction to your news: 🙂 I look forward to the second edition making its way to Canada.

    1. I’d like to but with only 10 chapters in the book I doubt my publishers would be happy if I released that large a proportion free. But I’d like to share some of the writing with you, and I’m going to post some JPGs of several pages, with legible text, next week..

  2. This is just terrific, Matthew, and so exciting for you! How can those of us on the other side of the world purchase, provided there are any left outside NZ? You know I am serious in my asking, and I assume you will let us know. Again, just great news, Matthew.

    1. Hi – thank you – and very much appreciated. It is indeed a special moment for me; when I originally wrote this it was the most important book I’d done, and a rare one because solo general histories to this scale usually aren’t offered to authors outside the academy. Or at all, actually – there have been just five I’m aware of in the last 60 years, including mine, and of all the authors, I’m the only one not employed full-time in a university. The fact that I was able to get a second edition out, effectively re-casting the whole and renewing it for the modern audience, just doesn’t normally happen. I’m contemplating a post in a while about ‘re-thinking’ – what window does that cast on an author’s evolution as a writer?

      I’m delighted you’re interested! Thank you. It’s entering the NZ trade in the next few weeks and it should, be possible to buy the print edition then, by direct mail-order from the publisher’s web-shop. An e-book edition is also in the works, for worldwide release in Kobo, Kindle and Apple formats, but I expect it will be a little while before it’s available. I’ll keep you posted.

      1. Thanks, Matthew, and I will check out the publisher. Looking forward to the “re-thinking” post as I am in the midst of such, under different circumstances, of course. Again, congrats.

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