Jean Devanny

(3130 words)
  • Cheryl Taylor

Jean Devanny was born Jane Crook on 7 January 1894 in Ferntown, in the far north of New Zealand’s South Island, the eighth of ten children. Her London-born father, William Crook, whose bouts of drinking terrorised her childhood, worked as a boiler-maker in the gold- and coal-mining industries, but her mother, Jane Appleyard, claimed a more refined military background. The beauty of the South Island inspired Devanny’s lifelong passion for natural history. She was gifted in music, playing the piano by ear and the harmonium in church, but by age twelve was a convinced atheist. She left school at thirteen, but continued to read widely in literature, philosophy, anthropology, economics and science. She explains in her autobiography, <…

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Taylor, Cheryl. "Jean Devanny". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 September 2008
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]