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Literature of the Pacific: Background Materials

A guide to online and print sources related primarily to indigenous Pacific literature

UHM Pacific digital image collections

Pacific Literature in English: A Timeline & Selected Bibliography

Note: Rather than arrange the below by the usual bibliographic conventions -- i.e., by subject, genre, author name or etc. -- items are listed in chronological order, and include references to events as well as specific bibliographic citations. Independence dates for various island nations have been added to help link Oceania's political history with its literary output.
The overarching goal is to illustrate the development of Pacific literary study & theory -- and, to a certain extent, the development of indigenous Pacific literature itself. Or rather, indigenous literature in English -- the below does not include, for instance, 19th-century Hawaiian language publishing, nor 20th- and 21st-century French-language writing produced by Pacific Islanders. Nor, for that matter, the growing body of modern vernacular writing. It is a work in progress, entirely subjective and by no means comprehensive. Rather, it is meant to survey touchstone moments and works in the field, along with occasional lesser-known items that may be of interest. Click on linked titles to view UH-Mānoa library holdings information.

  • Florence "Johnny" Frisbie, a Cook Islander, publishes:


  • Jacqueline Sturm (Maori) publishes the short story "The Old Coat" in the journal:

  • Albert Wendt (Samoan) publishes his first story, "Drowning!" in:

Click here to view a bibliography of Wendt's work, compiled by Paul Sharrad:

  • Tom and Lydia Davis (Cook Islanders) publish what is believed to be the the first English language novel by Pacific Islanders:

  • Samoa (then known as Western Samoa) gains independence from New Zealand, and in the process becomes the first Polynesian nation to re-establish independence in the 20th century.

  • University of Papua & New Guinea (later University of Papua New Guinea) founded.
  • John Dominis Holt (Hawaiian) publishes his first collection of short stories:

  • The first volume of Papua Pocket Poets is published. It will continue publishing irregularly through 1975. Ulli Beier serves as editor. (Note: Papua Pocket Poets has been fully "analyzed" by UH-M library catalogers. This means that you can search for authors published in the series by their personal name, by the title of individual poems. To browse all contents, do a keyword search for "Papua Pocket Poets" (with quotation marks).


  • University of South Pacific founded.

  • First issue of the journal Kovave published. Founded by Ulli Beier and published by the University of Papua New Guinea, it is the first journal of its kind devoted to art and literature in Papua New Guinea (then known as Papua and New Guinea).

  • Fiji gains independence from Great Britian.
  • University of Papua New Guinea graduates its first class. Among the graduates are Vincent Eri, whose book The crocodile is generally considered to be the first novel by a Papua New Guinean; it was workshopped in Ulli Beierʻs creative writing course. Other notable writers who went through Beierʻs course include Leo Hannett, John Waiko, Kumalau Tawali, Rabbie Namaliu, Arthur Jawodimbari, John Kasaipwalova, Russell Soaba, Apisai Enos, Dus Mapun, Vincent Eri, John Kadiba, John Saunana and Siuras Kavani.


  • South Pacific Creative Arts Society is founded in Suva, Fiji.
  • Pacific Islands Monthly carries an SPCAS literary supplement in each issue from 1972 to 1975:
  • Witi Ihimaera publishes his first collection of short stories:

  • Papua New Guinea achieves self-government.
  • First issue of Mana Annual of Creative Writing is published in Suva, Fiji, by the South Pacific Creative Arts Society. It will continue publishing through 1977.

  • Papua New Guinea achieves full independence from Australia; joins British Commonwealth.

  • Solomon Islands achieves self-government as preliminary step toward independence.
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 of the literary journal Mana Review is published in Suva, Fiji. In 1977, the journal changed name to Mana , and continued publishing irregularly (most recent edition being Vol. 13, no. 1, 2001). The contents of both Mana Review and Mana are indexed in the Hawaii-Pacific Journal Index (HPJI). One of the first instances of Pacific literary criticism -- Albert Wendt's highly influential essay "Towards A New Oceania" -- is published in Mana Review.

  • Russell Soaba (Papua New Guinean) publishes his first novel:

  • Solomon Islands achieves independence from Great Britain.

  • Vanuatu achieves independence from France and Britian, which had jointly ruled the country since 1906 under the Anglo-French condominium.









  • The Contemporary Pacific publishes a special issue (vol. 13. no. 2) on subject of Native Pacific Cultural Studies.



  • Epeli Hauʻofa passes away on January 11.

  • The Contemporary Pacific publishes Volume 22, no. 2 as a festschrift devoted to the life and work of Albert Wendt.