The Life of De’Ath

Majella Cullinane


A haunting, masterful début. On the longlist for Ockham Book Awards 2019. Shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and the NZ Heritage Book Award.

SKU: 978-0-947493-78-3 Categories: , ,


In this accomplished first novel, the elusive narrator — no less than Mephistopheles — recounts Theodore De’Ath’s life before and during the Great War. Traumatised by a family tragedy, Theodore immerses himself the Inferno, Paradise Lost and Faust and is captivated by the Underworld.

The story, which begins in thinly disguised Wellington and Otago settings, unfolds against the backdrop of New Zealand military involvement and anti-German sentiment during World War I.

As he goes against the tide of social and family pressure, Theodore struggles to express his feelings for Elizabeth Paterson. Then he is obliged to join the New Zealand Division in France in 1916. Confronted with the obscenity of war, begins to understand what Hell truly means.

About the author

Majella Cullinane, originally from Ireland, has lived in New Zealand since 2008. She has published two poetry collections, Guarding the Flame (2011) and Whisper of a Crow’s Wing (2018, Salmon Poetry and Otago University Press). She was Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 2014, and a Sir James Wallace/Pah Homestead Writer in Residence in 2017.

Additional information

Dimensions 160 × 235 mm