Elspeth Sandys

ANZL Member

Photo credit: Robert Burgess

Elspeth Sandys has been a full time writer for the last 35 years. In that time, she has published eight novels, two collections of short stories and a memoir. Her fiction focuses on relationships: personal, social and political. Some of her novels have historical settings, but the themes motivating the books are contemporary.

Amongst numerous accolades, Elspeth’s novel River Lines (Hodder & Stoughton; Hodder Moa-Beckett, 1995) was a finalist in the 1996 Orange Prize. Her short story collection, Standing in Line (Secretariat of Culture of Jalisco, 2003) won the Elena Garro Pen International Prize. In 2006, Elspeth was awarded the Officer of the Order of New Zealand for Services to Literature in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

Elspeth has written extensively for the BBC and RNZ, both original plays and adaptations, as well as a number of film and television scripts. Her stage plays have been performed in England and New Zealand. She has worked as a creative writing teacher, editor for Oxford University Press, and ghost written (with John Man) several non fiction works including, A State of Blood and The Survival of Jan Little.

Currently domiciled in New Zealand, Elspeth returns regularly to the UK, where she raised a family for over 20 years. She has an MA (First Class Hons) in English from Auckland University, an FTCL in Speech and Drama from Trinity College, London, and an LTCL in Music, also from Trinity College, London.

Elspeth is currently working on a sequel to her memoir, What Lies Beneath. She has recently completed a new novel Obsession, due to be published in 2017.



View Elspeth’s website

New Zealand Book Council profile page

Otago University Press author page

MBA Literary and Script Agents author page

Micheal King Writers’ Centre residency news

NZ Herald review of What Lies Beneath (Nov, 2014)

Radio New Zealand interview (Sept, 2014)

Bibliography: Elspeth Sandys



Standing in Line (Short stories: Secretariat of Culture of Jalisco, Mexico, 2006)

A Passing Guest (HarperCollins, 2002)

Seven Stories – Epitaph (Random House, 2000)

Enemy Territory (Hodder & Stoughton UK; Hodder Moa Beckett NZ, 1997; Paperback publication UK, 1998, NZ, 1998)

Riding to Jerusalem (Hodder Moa-Beckett, 1996)

River Lines (Hodder & Stoughton UK; Hodder Moa-Beckett NZ, 1995;

Best Friends  (Short stories: David Ling, August 1993)

Finding Out (Random House, 1991; re-published by Random House, 1992; published in France as Découvertes, Actes Sud, 1997)

Love and War (Secker & Warburg; in paperback by Futura, 1982)

The Broken Tree (Hutchinson; published in the US as The Burning Dawn, Dell, 1981)

Catch a Falling Star (Blond & Briggs, 1978)


Creative Nonfiction

What Lies Beneath (Otago UP, 2014)



Poems/short fiction published in various journals in New Zealand, England and Denmark including:

‘The Postman’ in Landfall (Short story: Nov, 2012)

Poetry in Landfall

Poetry in NZ Listener

Poetry in NZ Books

Poetry in PEN (UK)



Elspeth has short stories in numerous anthologies.

'One of writing’s greatest magics is to allow us – to use Kiri Piahana-Wong’s phrase – to slide outside the trap of time.' - David Taylor

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