Author(s): Robin Hyde
Passport to Hell is the story of James Douglas Stark--Starkie--and his war. Journalist and novelist Robin Hyde came across Starkie while reporting in Mt Eden Gaol in the 1930s and immediately knew she had to write his 'queer true terrible story'. The result was greeted by John A. Lee, war veteran, author and politician, as 'the most important New Zealand war book yet published'. Hyde took the raw horrors, respites and reversals of Starkie's experiences and composed a work of literature much greater than a mere documentary of war. She portrays a man looting a dead man's money-belt and filching beer from the Tommies; attempting to shoot a sergeant in a haze of absinthe, yet carrying his wounded captain back across No Man's Land; a man recommended for the V.C. and honoured for his bravery - but also subject to nine courts martial. In its psychological acuity and emotional depth, Passport to Hell is one of the finest war books we have.
"Probably the single most significant New Zealand literary outcome of World War I." " C. K. Stead, "author," Smith's Dream""
Robin Hyde (1906-39) was a New Zealand journalist, novelist and poet. Born in South Africa, she was brought to New Zealand as a baby and grew up with Wellington. At sixteen years of age she began her journalistic career on the Dominion and in succeeding years worked for the Christchurch Sun, the Wanganui Chronicle, and the New Zealand Observer. Hyde's publications comprise five novels including The Godwits Fly, three autobiographical volumes, and five collections of verse.