|Growing up in New Zealand in a poor family, Janet Frame learned melancholy early in life: one brother was an epileptic, two sisters drowned. Frame felt like an outsider all through her youth--and even after, when, as a teacher, she suddenly walked out on her class and never returned. Widely traveled, she took odd jobs wherever she could find them and lived a life of bohemian chaos, but she continued to write--and in fact always spoke of writing as a drugged state from which it was difficult to emerge. After a suicide attempt, she was confined in a mental hospital, where she was labeled schizophrenic, and though this was later known to be a misdiagnosis, she ended up being institutionalized for many years; in her fiction, madness is often presented as a legitimate way to be oneself and escape from convention. When she began to be published (THE LAGOON, 1951), Frame returned to the world and wrote many more books, both novels and short stories. She often drew on her life in her work: OWLS DO CRY (1957) is a highly autobiographical novel; her three-volume autobiography--TO THE ISLAND (1982), AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (1984), and THE ENVOY FROM MIRROR CITY (1985)--was adapted for a 1990 film. Among her many award-winning works were 12 novels, four collections of stories, one collection of poetry, and the autobiographical volumes. In 1973, Frame changed her name legally to Clutha, the river that ran through the town where she grew up, but continued to write under her previous name. She died at 79 of acute leukemia, in the city where she was born.