Ray Richards (1921–2013) was one of the most influential voices in New Zealand literature.
As editor, managing director and publisher of A.H. & A.W. Reed, Ray encouraged the writing of many uniquely New Zealand voices including Barry Crump and Mona Anderson, and introduced the wider New Zealand public to the works of painters Peter McIntyre and Toss Wollaston and photographer Geoff Moon.
Ray was awarded the inaugural Booksellers New Zealand Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 for his services to the publishing industry – well-deserved recognition from his peers.
After establishing the Richards Literary Agency in the 1970s Ray mentored, encouraged, promoted and became a friend to many of New Zealand’s prominent writers and illustrators, and at the end of his career was working on behalf of almost 100 clients, ensuring that their work was published nationally and internationally. Those writing and illustrating for children and teenagers included: Tanya Batt, Fleur Beale, Jennifer Beck, Robyn Belton, Jean Bennett, Gretchen Brassington, Deborah Burnside, Dorothy Butler, Pauline Cartwright, Joy Cowley, Shirley Corlett, Elizabeth Fuller, Maurice Gee, Betty Gilderdale, Jenny Hessell, Witi Ihimaera, Jo Noble, Diana Noonan, Lorraine Orman, John Parker, Trevor Pye, Alan Trussell-Cullen, Mary Whaanga, Fraser Williamson, Richard and Pamela Wolfe.
Ray Richards had a unique visionary presence in the growth of New Zealand children’s literature.