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Arthur Nelson Field Collection

This collection of over 2500 titles of right-wing and fascist material was donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1963. It is part of the Turnbull Named Collections.

Arthur Nelson Field was a journalist, writer, and political activist. His collection of more than 650 books, pamphlets, serials, manuscripts and ephemera dating from the 1890s to the 1960s, is one of the most complete collections of right-wing and fascist publications available anywhere. The collection was donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1963 by A.N. Field’s brother, L.W. Field.

Extremely 1960s cover of Britain and the Common Market, by John Pinder.
John Pinder, Britain and the Common Market, 1961. Record page

About Arthur Nelson Field

Arthur Nelson Field (1882-1963) was the eldest of four children of Thomas Andrew Hemming Field (MP for Nelson 1914-1919) and Jessie Black.

Arthur’s first work as an editor appears to have been as proprietor of the Karori News (1894), a typed and cyclostyled paper which lasted for four issues. After the family moved back to Nelson, Arthur remained in Wellington as a sub-editor at the Evening Post from 1901 to 1905. He later worked for provincial newspapers and spent some years in Melbourne, but returned to Wellington in 1907 as a foundation member of the Dominion newspaper. He wrote a column for this paper (‘Without prejudice’) under the pseudonym TDH (Tom, Dick and Harry).

In 1915 he was a private in the 2nd Wellington Infantry Regiment, but was wounded and discharged in 1916, later joining the Navy and serving in the North Sea on HMS Spenser. In 1919 after the end of the war he returned to the Dominion remaining there until 1928 when he moved to Nelson where he produced books, pamphlets and right-wing papers.

His interests in right-wing politics, imperialism and economics flourished in the aftermath of the World War I and the greater part of his collection is concerned with the period from 1920-1939. His political interests were such that the Security Intelligence Service kept a file on him (Archives New Zealand, ‘Report on Arthur Nelson Field, 15 December 1943’, EA1, 84/10/1, pt 1a). Much of his collection appears to have been assembled at Nelson, although some parts, such as a series of military handbooks, may have been acquired during his military service. From the late 1940s he became interested in the creationism and the Evolution Protest Movement.

Cover of E Belfort Bax's Religion of Socialism, part of a Social Science series.
Ernest Belfort Bax, The religion of socialism, 1908. Record page

The Field Collection includes items that were inscribed by other family members. Some books concerning World War I and the politics of that period were probably acquired by his father, Thomas, and passed on to Arthur. Other books appear to have been collected by a different branch of the family. They include William Hughes Field (1861-1944), MP for Otaki 1896-1911, 1914-1935, and a lawyer and landowner at Kapiti, who married Isabel Jane Hodgkins, a daughter of William Mathew Hodgkins and sister to the artist Frances Hodgkins. Family members who were former owners of some of the books in the collection include: Isabel Hodgkins, Lydia Helen Hughes Field, William Geoffrey Hughes, Peter (George Alexander Hughes Field), Jack (John Field), and Frank Hodgkins. Henry Montague Field inscribed a significant number of books.

Field's papers in the Manuscripts collection

More about Arthur Nelson Field in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Access items in this collection

Original items in this collection can be requested through the Library’s catalogue and consulted in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room.

This collection is catalogued online and may be called up as a list on the National Library catalogue by searching ‘Field’ using the ‘in call number’ search option in the NLNZ catalogue advanced search.

Download the Field Collection finding aid for more information not found in the catalogue (pdf, 930KB)