Tessa Duder

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Tessa Duder née Stavely (born 1940, Auckland) is a New Zealand swimming champion and author of novels for young people, short stories, plays and non-fiction. She is primarily known for her Alex quartet. As an editor, she has also published a number of anthologies.

Early life

Tessa Staveley was born in 1940 in Auckland, the daughter of a doctor. Her entire school career was spent at Diocesan School for Girls . As a teenager she competed in the butterfly and medley stroke swimming, becoming the national butterfly and medley record holder (1958–59) and winning a silver medal for 110 yards butterfly at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. She was named New Zealand Swimmer of the Year in 1959.

After leaving school she worked as a journalist for the Auckland Star, before travelling to Europe, working for the Daily Express. She married John Duder in 1964 and following the birth of the first of her four daughters, she was a full-time mother for 7 years, much of it spent in Pakistan. She returned to Auckland in 1972, where she reentered the work force as a pianist.


Tessa Duder began writing fiction in 1977. Her first novel Night Race to Kawau was published by Oxford University Press in 1982. Her most successful works are the Alex quartet of novels, which builds upon her own childhood experiences,...
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