A writing desk owned by Oamaru’s most famous writer is up for auction next week.
The desk used by Janet Frame when she lived in Auckland in the 1990s is expected to fetch $1000 to $1500 in a sale at Webb’s auction house next Wednesday.
The desk is mentioned in Michael King’s Frame biography Wrestling with the Angel. King said when Frame moved to Avondale in November 1995, her living room was “taken up almost entirely with a full-sized pool table around which Frame and her guests had to edge their way to chairs (she soon swapped it for a large desk)”.
When Frame visited friends Puna and Robin McConnell on March 4, 1996, she expressed concern at having no writing desk, but said she did have an obstructive billiard table, a letter of provenance from Robin McConnell says.
He supplied two photographs of Frame with his family and the desk, to be included in the auction lot with his letter.
It explains that Penny and Kit McConnell said they had always wanted a billiard table and suggested swapping the two items.
The desk had been a gift to Bob McConnell when he retired from the Transport Department’s Wellington head office and had been passed on to his granddaughter, Penny McConnell.
On the day before the swap, Frame inscribed a copy of the first volume of her autobiography To the Is-Land
“For Robin & Puna & Penny and Kit with love from Janet. June 1996, Friday.
“The day of the Weed-Eater & The Day Before the Desk Arrival.”
The desk had been restored by Graham Rudd.
Frame called it the “Penny desk” and gave it to Penny and Robin McConnell when she shifted to Dunedin at the end of 1997.
Both Frame and Puna McConnell died from acute myeloid leukaemia. A donation from the proceeds of the sale of the desk would be made towards leukaemia research, Mr McConnell said.