About Anthony Holcroft

Anthony Holcroft is an award-winning writer of fairy tales and stories of the supernatural. He lives on a small farm in rural North Canterbury, New Zealand, where many years ago, he planted an orchard with the intention of making a lifestyle around farming and writing. “The outdoors have always been important to me since I was a child,” he says, “and combining writing with daily physical work created an ideal balance that has served me well ever since.”

His decision to write for children came in the mid-1970’s, when, as he puts it, “I found myself returning to the spirits of trees, earth and water of traditional folklore, in an attempt to channel the feelings of enchantment and mystery that the wilder corners of the Southland landscape had inspired in me during my childhood.” He believes, however, that the label ‘writer for children’ is too simplistic. “While my young audience is always somewhere at the back of my mind, in drawing on these early influences (and others that for one reason or another have seeded themselves in my imagination), I am also telling stories to myself, stories that insist on being told, and that I would like to think will give pleasure to readers of all ages.”

When Anthony is not writing and gardening, he spends his time on two long-term restoration environmental projects: the riparian restoration of the Cam River adjacent to his home, and the restoration of a jointly owned covenanted remnant of wetland and beech/podocarp forest near Oxford, in North Canterbury.

Anthony’s stories for children have been published and anthologised in New Zealand and overseas, as well as being adapted for radio and television.


Anthony Holcroft has received the following awards:

What critics have said

“Holcroft’s achievement lies in his ability to tether the archetypal firmly to the landscape of New Zealand and marks a significant development of indigenous fantasy writing for children.”

Betty Gilderdale, The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature (1991)

“Holcroft’s deceptively simple style leads the reader into stories where the ordinary blends subtly into the extraordinary. His capacity to hold the reader’s interest during this journey demonstrates an art that is infrequently seen among modern authors, that of using language plainly but poetically. This is a rare talent.”

Dorothy Butler, international authority on children’s books and reading

“To me, you have a new talent — original and yet in the true tradition.”

Marion Lochhead, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and author of the influential study, Renaissance of Wonder in Children’s Literature (1977)

List of publications

Picture books

The Old Man and the Cat (2012)
Bootlace Soup (1994)
The China Teacup (1994)
Chen Li and the River Spirit (1990)
Rosie Moonshine (1989)
The Oldest Garden in China (1985)
The Old Man and the Cat (1984)


Barney (1995)
Red Beard’s Kingdom (1991)


The Ghost Tree (2009)
The Stone Boat (2004)
A Visit to the Orchards of Heaven (1998)
The White Bird (1995)
The Night Bees (1994)
The Boy at the Door (1991)
Tales of the Mist (1987)


Puffin Treasury of New Zealand (2007)
Out of the Deep (2007)
The Great Pavlova Cover Up (2001)
The Puffin Treasury of Children’s Stories (1998)
Gruwelnissig (1995)
The Ears Storybook (1991)
Stay Loose Mother Goose (1990)
Weird (1990)
Under the Rainbow (1990)
Bizarre (1989)
Amazing (1989)
Before Dawn (1988)
The Magpies Said (1980)


The following stories have been published in magazines:

  • “Zulma”, Cricket Magazine, Marianne Carus (ed), Illinois, USA (January, February, & March 2007)
  • “The Old Man and the Cat”, Cricket Magazine, Marianne Carus (ed), Illinois, USA (April 1995)
  • “Chen Li and the River Spirit”, Celebrate Reading, Allington et al (ed), Illinois, USA: Scott Foresman/Harper Collins (1992)
  • “Chen Li and the River Spirit”, Cricket Magazine, Marianne Carus (ed), Illinois, USA (August 1990)
  • “The Children at the Swimming Hole", Takahe Magazine, Sandra Arnold & David Howard (eds), Christchurch, NZ (1989)


“Exploring the World of Faerie”, New Zealand Childrens Book Foundaton Year Book (1998)

Fairy tales (published)

(in approximate order of writing)
The Old Man and the Cat
The Girl in the Cabbage Tree
The Seven Somethings
Redbeard’s Kingdom
Rosie Moonshine
The Tramp
The Island in the Lagoon
The Night Bees
The Oldest Garden in China
What the Youngest Beetle Saw
Chen Li and the River Spirit
Young Hob
Bootlace Soup
The China Teacup
The Cat’s Breakfast
The Scorpions of Rün
The Magic Thread
A Visit to the Orchards of Heaven
Caitlin and the Leprechaun
Patrick’s Boots
The Pear Tree in Grandmother’s Garden
The Cave
Take it or Leave it
The Blue Butterfly
The Girl at Mirror Creek
Maud the Motorcycle Witch

Supernatural stories (published)

(in approximate order of writing)
The Stone
The Boy at the Door
Uncle Barney
The Silkies
The Tarn
The White Bird
Miss Van Leeuwen
The Children at the Swimming Hole
The Chrysanthemum
Dancing Meg
Dreams of a Full-face Queen
The Ghost Tree
The Greenstone Pendant

Related sites

The following websites have information and articles on Anthony Holcroft:

New Zealand Book Council
National Library of New Zealand
Penguin Books (NZ)
Christchurch City Libraries (interview)
NZ On Screen (episode from Tales of the Mist TV series)
Living streams: Case study (PDF 1,189 kb)
Oxford Reference