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30 October 2010


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Autobiography Kissim Savvy by Rita Lowther based in PNG and told with a vivid commentary of its people and their traditions.

Hi Phil
I was pleased to find your list of PNG books as I am in the process of writing a memoir of my time there from 1964-1975.

The late Sam Kaima from the University of PNG was doing an excellent job archiving books about PNG through the university's first project on compiling national, regional and provincial bibliographies and headed by Sam.

I wonder what stage that work has come to now since I last heard of it in 2000? I am also wondering if any Papua New Guinean is continuing or doing similar works about PNG books as Kaima's or as discussed in this article?

It would seem funny, that we should write books, but not stack them neatly in their proper places in time and relevance, at the least.

Yep its a shame they can't go to PNG, I agree. Next best is people who appreciate them, and charities. I'll drop you a line.

Hi everybody. The National Library of PNG in Port Moresby is very happy to accept donations of any books on PNG. They also help supply books to libraries in high schools throughout PNG.

I am about to pack up my books to send up by sea freight. Anybody who wants more details can contact me on

Love to look at your list Sam. I'm at

Quite a few people are doing what you are doing. It would be good if there was somewhere in PNG that they could go.

Hi Phil. Enjoy the blog.

I'm dispersing a large collection of around 500 PNG books at the moment. Many by authors on your list.

Let me know if interested in seeing list -- many headed for the charity stores - samsonfish19 [at] gmail [dot] com

I loaned it to someone and it never came back John. I haven't had need to replace it as yet.

Come to think of it, there were a lot of books that never came back. Oh well, I guess they're happy in their new homes.

The list has got bigger in the last couple of years but it essentially represents what sits on my bookshelves at home rather than any attempt at a definitive list.

Good grief!. I've read but three of James Sinclair's, and enjoyed them. Read several by other authors.

A little surprised at not seeing on the list Gavin Souter's 'New Guinea: The Last Unknown'.

Dear Phil - Many thanks for your booklist, it helps me a lot, as I am compiling a list of PNG out-of-print books or a rare books.

Many thanks. Gupela dei long u.

I'd love to read and review it Marlene. Drop me an email at and I'll provide an address.

Hi Phil - Love your book reviews. I was wondering if you would be interested in adding mine to your collection? It is a fictional story set in both PNG and in the Australian outback. There is one proper review so far at:

If interested, let me know and I'll get a copy out to you. Best regards.

You have saved me! I am doing a challenge on to read six books from different countries on each of six different continents.

Books can be about the place or written by someone from the place. Oceania, as you may have guessed, gets a little tough after NZ and Australia.

This blog entry and your booklist might just make this a do-able challenge! If anyone is curious what my reading list is shaping up like, it is available at

Again, a million thanks!!!

Phil - I found your comments very interesting, especially those about Hosea Linge.

I lived at Pinikidu, in New Ireland, prewar as a child. My father was the tulatula (Methodist missionary). Hosea Linge was one of his main helpers.

In 1941, my mother, brother and myself came to Sydney and, in late 1941, Dad took over the Methodist Mission station at Kavieng and Hosea Linge took over Pinikidu where he remained for most of the war.

The book 'An Offering fit for a King' was printed in 1978 by the United Church in Rabaul with the help of Rev Neville Threlfall.

There were lots of copies of it in Rabaul but they were all lost in the eruption of 1994.I have put a chapter or two on the Lost Lives web site under Hosea Linge's name. These chapters covered the time he was at Pinikidu during the war.

My father was later lost on the Montevideo Maru.

When I went back to Kavieng in 2002 for the unveiling of a memorial to expatriates from New Ireland who were there in 1941 and lost their lives during the war, the United Church choir at the ceremony was conducted by Hosea Linge's son.

Talking about New Guinea books, of which I have over 200, my favourite is 'Wanderings in a Wild Country, or three years amongst the cannibals of New Britain' by Wilfred Powell, which was published in England in 1883 - before any country annexed New Guinea.

This is a fascinating book and has a dotted line around Jacquinot Bay where I was Kiap from 1959 to 1963.

Phil, thanks so much! Fabulous reading list, thank you.

Reviews would be great - together with a where to buy...

A couple of interesting resources are available online. The Internet Archive has a pdf copy of 'Papua or British New Guinea' by JHP Murray, published in 1912.

Here's the link for Murray's book. It's out of copyright so you are free to download it:

And (maintained by John Evans of the UPNG Bookshop) has a fascinating account of Tramways and Railways in PNG, plus lots of other articles and resources:

The first tramway in PNG was built on Mole Island in 1888 to transport phosphate!

I, too, have a wonderful little library of old PNG books which I have collected over the past 40 odd years, many from the second-hand bookshops in the towns on the Blue Mountains.

I've given many away but it is hard to part with them.

My prize one is "In Wild New Britain" - Dank's Diary (1933). Unlike Phil, I just love the old missionary books.

Having taught in New Ireland, I heard plenty about Hosea Lingi and have his book here somewhere.

Maybe we could start doing some reviews of these old books on 'PNG Attitude'.

You're more than welcome - KJ

That's quite a list, Phil. Thanks for posting it.

I hardly ever run into books about PNG in the used book stores here in Canada, although I did pick up a really nice copy of Kira Salak's "Four Corners" recently.

Your list gives me lots of new ideas of things to watch for. Thanks again!

Phil - It's also worth mentioning the PNG Dictionary of National Biography, probably only held by libraries.

It's now over 20 years old and badly needs updating. This would be a very valuable exercise.

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