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Wright Collection

The Wright Collection was bequeathed to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1937 on the death of Henry Charles Clarke Wright (1844–1936). The collection is made up of 550 titles that relate to comparative religion, philosophy, theology, ethics, morality and health. Many of the works are extensively annotated by Wright. It is part of the Turnbull Named Collections.

Covers of The Goodness of Gods and Foods for the Fat, both black text inlaid on red covers.
L-R: Edward Westermarck, The goodness of gods, 1926. Record page; Nathaniel Edward Yorke-Davies, Foods for the fat: the dietetic cure of corpulency, 1898. Record page

About Henry Wright

Henry Wright was a well-known Wellington figure. Before coming to Wellington he had previously worked as a business man; variously managing a store, a mining company and acting as advisory accountant to Auckland City Council. Wright came to Wellington in 1877, and in 1879 became a certified debt-collector.

In 1880 he became the secretary of the Gear Meat Company and was appointed secretary of the Wellington Meant Export Company, and would later found the Wellington Meat Preserving Company.

Cartoon of Henry Wright, showing him as a fancy man about town.
"Henry of the town belt", New Zealand Free Lance8 June, 1907.

In his private life, Wright was a man of many interests. He is remembered as a ‘personality’ who dressed exotically. He was a keen gardener, and once caused a stir in Wellington by attempting to lease a section of the town belt. He was also a photographer, and during Lord Onslow’s term as governor of New Zealand was appointed landscape photographer to him.

Wright also cultivated an interest in comparative religion, secularism, in sexuality and health. His collection includes a number of anti-Christian and anti-Catholic works. There are also a number of titles relating to food and diet, general health, and sexual deviations. Perhaps best known of Wright’s views is his opposition to ‘epicene women’: women soliciting votes.

Poster reading 'Notice to epicine women - Electioneering women are requested not to call here - They are recommended to go home, to look after their children, cook their husband's dinners, empty the slops, and generally attend to the domestic affairs for which Nature designed them. By taking this advice they will gain the respect of all right-minded people - an end not to be attained by unsexing themselves and meddling in masculine concerns of which they are profoundly ignorant. Henry Wright.
Henry Wright, "Notice to epicene women", 1902. Ref: Eph-B-WOMEN-1902.

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 ‘Wright’ using the ‘in call number’ search option in the NLNZ catalogue advanced search.