Biographer

The Biography Service was established in 2003 to meet the growing demand for people wanting to professionally record their family stories and business & organisational histories.

The best intentions of many people to record either their own or a relative’s story often come unstuck due to either lack of time or skills. Consequently, valuable family stories are lost and interesting lives that beg to be honoured are not.

Similarly, the history of businesses and organisations go unrecorded, lost in the memories of sometimes long-gone workers and volunteers.

As New Zealand has matured, the interest in capturing stories as a way of making sense of the present has mushroomed. We want to understand who our forbears are/were; why they made the life choices they did and how those choices impacted on us.  Seemingly ‘ordinary’ people’s lives are illuminated and family members are able to review their relationships with new understanding and compassion. That’s a hugely rewarding outcome of writing biographies and one I am much humbled by.

The following quotes from clients explain much about the biography process:

“Ruth, I can’t thank you enough for all the trouble you went to for Mummy’s biography – your opening remarks had me in tears.  I would never have had the patience you had in your meticulous research and getting her to remember things she had thought she had long forgotten.  I will be able to read it for years to come to remember just what a great life she had and what an exceptional person she is.  The book has been brilliant for her too and I have recorded it on tape as her blindness has precluded her from reading it herself. She listens to it sometimes when she feels lonesome, if an old friend who is mentioned in it dies or if she feels she is starting to forget again.  She is also very, very proud of it and we are immensely grateful to you for your hard work, dedication and caring – and becoming our friend too.”

Karen Marks – daughter of Isabella Divers – A Scorpion in my Shoe. Dunedin.

“I cannot express in words how much it means to me to have Dad’s autobiography. It was very precious before Dad died, and now that I no longer have Dad here to talk to about his life it is even dearer to me. Dad was 95 when he died in 2008. He’d led a very interesting life, many aspects of which would have been lost forever if you had not captured them on paper for our family, Ruth.  Not only am I grateful to you for the amazing piece of memorabilia that you have put together for us, but also for the way in which you made the whole thing easy and enjoyable for Dad. Mum said that she could hear much laughter emanating from Dad’s study when you two had your get-togethers there over numerous cups of tea and biscuits. A lot of reflection about Dad’s life was part of the process, and I know that Dad enjoyed sharing it with such an empathetic person as you, Ruth, who was also so genuinely interested in hearing his story.  I marveled at how you were able to put all the information together so that the flow of the book with all its amazing photos and documents is wonderful. The end result is indeed a masterpiece to me. It is very well-written in such a way that I’m sure that even people who didn’t know Dad would enjoy it. Many thanks again.”

Cheryl Taylor – daughter of Ernest Taylor – I’m Ernie You Know! Torbay, Auckland

Companies and organisations can capture knowledge as a way of both honouring their entrepreneurs and founders, and helping them to vision the way forward with a clear insight into their foundations.

That’s where the Biography Service comes in. We have a track record for capturing and delivering stories New Zealand-wide – you can check out some of them using the navigation bar (right).

Costs: Costs will vary from approx. $3000-$10,000 for personal biographies, depending on the complexity of the story; location and the  production values of the publication i.e. print run; stock quality; type of cover; number of images; image size; no. of black & white/colour images used, etc. There not really economies of scale these days – clients can self-publish as few or as many books as they choose.

Company and organisational biographies will need to be scoped (approx. $1500-$5000 depending on its size) to establish content; production values and printing costs.

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