Rachael King

ANZL Member

Photo credit: Matt Bialostocki

Rachael King is an award winning writer and for eight years was Literary Director of the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival. Her first book, The Sound of Butterflies (2006), was published in New Zealand, Britain and America, and translated into eight languages. It won the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Award for Best First Novel. ‘The story of traumatised lepidopterist Thomas Edgar,’ Eleanor Catton wrote in the Listener, ‘had such a quiet and unsettling power that I found myself dreaming of the Amazon for weeks.’ The Washington Post called it ‘captivating’, while the Observer said the novel ‘fuses Edwardian gentility with obsession, murder, and a glimpse of the giddy excess of the Brazilian rubber boom…It’s convincing, told in prose as opulent as one of Thomas’s specimens.’

Rachael was the Ursula Bethell Writer-in-Residence at Canterbury University in Christchurch (2008). The result was Magpie Hall (2009), a New Zealand version of a Gothic Victorian mystery, which was longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC award. Iain Sharp called it ‘a wily meditation on the ways that fantasy, desire, guilt, influential reading and hunger for esteem affect the way we perceive and report the past – including our own personal histories…King is not just a one-off talent but here for the long haul.’

Red Rocks, her first novel for children, won the 2013 LIANZA Esther Glen medal for junior fiction, New Zealand’s longest-running literary award, and was shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

Over many years, Rachael has participated as chair, panelist and speaker in national festivals, and was a panelist in the Wordstock Festival, Oregon. In 2020 Rachael was named an Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours.

Rachael is currently working on a book of essays.



Rachael King’s website


Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

Interview on Radio New Zealand with Noelle McCarthy on Creativity (2014)

Avenues feature (2013)

Dominion Post/The Press feature on Red Rocks (2012)

Bibliography: Rachael King



Red Rocks (Novel for middle grade readers: Random House, 2012)

Magpie Hall (Random House, 2009; Eksmo, Russia, 2009)

The Sound of Butterflies (Random House NZ, Picador UK, William Morrow USA [hardback], Harper Perennial USA [paperback], 2006; published as De Stilte van den Flinders, Artemis, Netherlands, 2006; Der Ruf des Schmetterlings, Pendo, Germany, 2006; La Musica della Farfalle, Piemme, Italy, 2006; also published in Greece, Russia (Eksmo), Portugal, Taiwan, China)



‘Cold Hands’ in Home: New Short Short Stories by New Zealand Writers (Random House, 2005)

‘Next Stop Antarctica’ in Creative Juices (HarperCollins, 2002)

'Character to some extent is much a construction of the reader as it is of the writer.' - Lloyd Jones

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