Wonderful Rumours

Though our main task is noting and collating strange occurrences and beliefs arising in this country, sometimes a resource of deep potential for aiding the future creative endeavors of our countrymen makes it’s self known.

Such is the case with the “they say” column that appeared regularly in the Auckland paper “the observer”  a collection of rumours, terrible attempts at humour, pointed personal attacks and general society gossip.

Running every week from 1895 till at least 1920 (the paper it’s self ran from 1880 to 1954)  the column is mostly guff and filler but contains enough dark mutterings and historical colour that filtering through it at random could provide story ideas for authors, enough verisimilitude that it could easily be lifted almost wholesale to make rumour tables for a New Zealand based RPG, and enough bald sensationalism that by picking out the most interesting entries from a handful of columns you can paint New Zealand in an entirely different light to that in which it is usually seen.

The original header 1895-1901they say header 1 they say 1899 they say 1901

The second header 1901-1913

they say header 2 they say 1902 they say 1906 they-say-1910b

3rd header 1913- at least 1920

they say header 3 they say 1916 they say 1919

they say 1919 2

By 1920 the amount of “humour” tended to obscure the rumour and though the quality of it verges on the uniformly terrible it was occasionally capable of  a certain tasteless black comedy in regards so such subjects as New Zealands botched administration of its mandate in Samoa. (A subject on which it seems to have been regularly critical).

With thanks to the National Library of New Zealand.

A list of all issues digitized by the National Library . To find they “They Say” column click on any (post 1895) paper and look through the index.  

Bonus: An intriguing little ad from the end of the 2nd of March 1895 edition of the column.

detective ad

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