Born in Christchurch in 1932, Anthony Holcroft spent his childhood in Invercargill. He grew up in a household devoted to reading and writing, but even at that early age his preferences leaned towards fairy tales and myths rather than traditional ‘boys' stories’. During these childhood years he also began to develop a fascination with the New Zealand landscape, spending time exploring the countryside and becoming aware of ‘something alive and stirring just below the surface of things'.
After leaving school, he worked on back-country farms, and taught in rural schools, later managing a fruit farm near Christchurch before attending Canterbury University. He was initially intending to pursue an academic career, however the countryside eventually summoned him back, and in 1960 he bought some land near Rangiora and established an orchard there. He now describes his primary activities as environmental restoration projects and writing. He began his career as an author by writing down stories for his own children.
wrote: ‘Holcroft’s achievement lies in his ability to tether the archetypal firmly to the landscape of New Zealand, and marks a significant development of indigenous fantasy writing for children’ (The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature
- The Old Man and the Cat illustrated by Fifi Colston (Whitcoulls 1984).
- The Oldest Garden in China illustrated by Fifi Colston (Whitcoulls1985).
- Tales of the Mist illustrated by Elspeth Williamson (Reed Methuen 1987).
- Rosie Moonshine illustrated by Lyn Kriegler (Century Hutchinson 1989).
- Chen Li and the River Spirit illustrated by Lyn Kriegler (Hodder & Stoughton 1990).
- The Boy at the Door and Other Stories of the Supernatural illustrated by Julian Holcroft (Hazard Press 1991).
- Redbeard’s Kingdom illustrated by Timothy Ide (Omnibus 1991).
- The Night Bees (University of Queensland Press 1995).
- The White Bird and Other Stories (Hazard Press 1995).
- A Visit to the Orchards of Heaven illustrated by Leah Palmer Preiss (Hazard Press 1998).
- The Stone Boat (Tarn Publishing 2004).
- The Ghost Tree and Eerie Tales illustrated by Lyn Kriegler (Puffin 2009).
- Choysa Bursary 1986.
- American Express Award Finalist 1988.
- The International Reading Association Paul A. Witty Short Story Award (USA) 1990.
- White Raven List Special Mention 2000 for A Visit to the Orchards of Heaven.