Signed Frame song book remarkable find

Pamela Gordon holds a book, signed by her aunt, Janet Frame, which Ms Gordon found in a second-hand book store last week. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Pamela Gordon holds a book, signed by her aunt, Janet Frame, which Ms Gordon found in a second-hand book store last week. Photo by Craig Baxter.

A remarkable find at a Palmerston second-hand book store last week might have been more than just a coincidence, Janet Frame's niece says.

Pamela Gordon, who is also Frame's literary executor, was travelling from Dunedin to Oamaru with her partner Denis Harold, when they stopped in Palmerston for a break.

They were on their way to pay their respects the next day at Frame's grave, on the 10th anniversary of the writer's death.

Ms Gordon said they stopped off for a rummage in the Puketapu Radio Shop and had collected several second-hand books when she noticed an old high school song book.

The book, called The School Sing-song Book, was just sort of thing, she thought, her aunt would have liked.

''She loved those kind of books, she quoted a lot of old songs in her work.''

Feeling sentimental because of the anniversary and thinking the book looked like it was from her aunt's era, Ms Gordon decided to buy it.

It was on the way to the counter that she noticed writing on the cover.

''I was carrying it up to the counter and I took a closer look at the top corner on it and it had her signature on it. It said: 'J.P. Frame', and that was her name, Janet Paterson Frame.''

She handed over the $1 for the book, eager to take a closer look and confirm what she had seen.

''I was kind of in shock, I feel quite awful, but I didn't even mention it to the shopkeeper. I had to be sure myself. But I showed it to my partner and it was definitely it. It was quite faint, in pencil and at least 70 years old.''

The book contained annotations in the Owls Do Cry author's hand.

The coincidence was amazing, Ms Gordon said, and all the more because it happened as she was on the way to visit the grave of her aunt.

''It was quote emotional for me. I took it as a sign, I couldn't help it. Before she died, she said to me: 'I'm going to haunt you'.''

It was likely there were more books and documents floating around the East Otago community, as family and friends got rid of or sold off collections over the years, but to randomly find something was unusual and unexpected, Ms Gordon said.

The book might be photocopied so a copy could be kept at the Janet Frame house in Oamaru, and the original would eventually be added to the Frame archive, which Ms Gordon managed.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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