Discover an incredible New Zealand woman - meet Millicent through Penny Griffith's deeply researched and enjoyable read.

Available now - Out of the Shadows: The life of Millicent Baxter

Millicent Baxter was the pivot and driving force of her husband’s and sons’ lives. Although famous in their own right – Archie as a conscientious objector during World War I, Terence as a ‘conchie’ in World War II and James as New Zealand’s most celebrated poet – in some ways they lived in her shadow. Throughout her 96 years, Millicent was surrounded yet untouched by fame.


Millicent was used to the fame that came early to her poet son, having grown up with famous parents. Her mother was the first woman in the British Empire to earn a degree with honours, her father, a founding professor of the University of Canterbury and Chancellor of the University of New Zealand.


A forceful and sometimes daunting character with a crushing wit, lucid intellect and sharp political mind, Millicent declined an MA at the University of Cambridge and became a leading promoter of pacifism in New Zealand at a time when women just did not do such things. A strongly independent young woman, she defied her controlling father and turned her back on a life of privilege and prosperity to marry a poor rabbiter from a remote part of New Zealand’s South Island.


This is not only a New Zealand story. It will also interest anyone around the world who is interested in pacifism, World War 1 and 2, conscientious objection, feminism, socialism – and sheer courage and pertinacity. A good deal of the story is set in Britain and Europe; Millicent and Archie travelled there extensively and their forbears came from Scotland. Archie’s abuse as a conscientious objector occurred in Salisbury in England and at the front in Belgium, and it was a British doctor who effectively saved his life. 

‘Millicent Baxter was a dominating, forceful and formidable presence. She was hardly an easy personality (and had a tongue like a razor blade), but her energy emerges with clarity in Griffith’s masterful biography.’  The NZ Listener 2 July 2016

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About the author

Penny Griffith was born in England but emigrated to New Zealand in 1987.  Learn more about the author

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Penny has attended a number of book launch events around the country and in London.  Check our events and publications page