The 'bookseller at the end of the world' to speak at Q'town festival

May 13, 2022

Ruth Shaw has as many bookshops on her Manapouri property as can be found in all of Queenstown.

She started with one “because it gives me an excuse to go out and buy books”, opened a second children’s shop complete with soft toys, and then a third for the men who were sitting in their cars waiting for their wives.

There's more bookshops on author Ruth Shaw's Manapouri property than there are in Queenstown.

“I promised my husband I wouldn’t build another one but I’ve got a really good idea,” she giggles.

“I’m going to keep to my promise. I think.”

This year 75-year-old Ruth has a new book on her shelves – her memoir, entitled The Bookseller at the End of the World, published by Allen and Unwin.

In it she shares her extraordinary life story, which includes deserting from the Navy, sailing the Pacific and Indian oceans, escaping from pirates, and working with the sex workers and drug addicts of Kings Cross.

She’s suffered trauma. She’s known love. She’s been married four times including to Lance who she reconnected with in 1981, 17 years after they had been engaged, and began her life as a Fiordland skipper and environmentalist.

On May 29 Ruth will be in Queenstown sharing her story at a special event organised by the Queenstown Writers Festival where she will be interviewed by Sara Litchfield – a former London accountant who is now a writer and book editor based in Te Anau.

While she is accustomed to public speaking Ruth says she is just learning to speak about herself.

“I expect I’ll get a bit off track,” she says.

Ruth will be speaking at 2pm at The Sherwood on Sunday, May 29. Tickets are available on Eventfinda.

At Ruth’s request, her speaking fee will be donated to Queenstown’s Happiness House.

Earlier this month, Stuff journalist Mike White caught up with Ruth, the bookseller at the end of the world.

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