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Born in May 8, 1912 / Died in October 13, 1993 / United States / English


Ruth Gilbert was born at Greytown, New Zealand, in 1917, daughter of Florence Margaret (Carrington), a music teacher, and Henry George Gilbert, a Prebyterian minister and violin-maker. In 1945 she married John B. Mackay (1918-95), a doctor, and has four children. Her poetry appeared first in magazines and anthologies in Commonwealth countries and then in ten personal collections published in New Zealand and England. In the 1980s she turned to reading Sappho in the original Aeolic dialect and went on to publish three volumes of verse honouring her memory. Ruth Gilbert's honours include the Jessie Mackay Memorial Award for verse (three times) and she has served as President of New Zealand P.E.N. and the New Zealand Women Writers Society. She lives in retirement in Wellington.


  • Gilbert, Ruth. Lazarus and Other Poems. Wellington, New Zealand: A. H. and H. W. Reed, 1949.
  • --. The Luthier: Poems. Wellington, New Zealand: Reed, 1966.
  • --. The Sunlit Hour: Poems. London: Allen and Unwin, 1955.
  • --. Collected Poems. Wellington, New Zealand: Black Robin, 1984.
  • --. Early poems, 1938-1944. Wellington, New Zealand: Cultural and Political Booklets, 1988.
  • --. Breathings: Poems. Aotearoa: Original Books, 1992.
  • --. Dream, Black Night’s Child: Poems. Aotearoa: Original Books, 1993.
  • --. Complete Early Poems, 1938-1944, with six later pieces. Aotearoa: Original Books, 1994.
  • --. Gongyla Remembers: Poems. Aotearoa: Original Books, 1994.
  • --. Selected Poems 1941-1998. Ed. Ruth Gilbert and Derek Bolt. Wellington, New Zealand: Original Books, 2008.

F. W. Nielsen Wright has published Ruth Gilbert, an Account of her Poetry: An Interpretative Study (Wellington, N.Z.: Cultural and Political Booklets) in 1985. I am grateful for his assistance in obtaining copies of Gilbert's publications.