Janet Paul

Janet Paul
Paul: Janet
Hames: Jenny
Colour photograph

Janet Paul (1919–2004)

After gaining a degree at Victoria University and working in the Department of Internal Affairs, Historical Branch, Janet married Hamilton bookseller, Blackwood Paul in 1946; both became involved in publishing New Zealand authors, commentators and poets. They wanted to give adults and children a broader understanding of New Zealand history and culture. Janet, drawing on what she had learnt in the Historical Branch from historian J. C. Beaglehole about typography and book design, was responsible for commissioning authors, for book design and production. At times she got major New Zealand artists to design the dust jackets, at others designing them herself. The publishing venture ‘achieved a successful combination of the commercial with the quixotic’ but after Blackwood’s death, a merger with Longmans in 1968 led its demise. Janet moved to Wellington, worked as an art historian in the Alexander Turnbull Library, received an honorary doctorate from Victoria University and continued her painting and etching, an interest that stretched at least as far back as 1957, when she first exhibited her work.