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©Mark Thompson

Book Launch: Rain God by Ian Frazer

  • 27 Jun 2024
  • 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Birkenhead Library Community Room, Auckland

Rain God, the biography of celebrity meteorologist, 19th Century conservationist and mystic Clement Wragge will be launched in Birkenhead on Thursday, June 27, by landscape historian John Adam

Once famed as Auckland’s most remarkable personality, Wragge was a 19th Century gentleman scientist with 21st Century fears. 

He taught himself meteorology in Britain, set up and ran Australia’s first unofficial national weather service and spent the final 15 years of his life in New Zealand as a travelling science lecture and ardent Theosophist. In 1921, novelist and fellow Spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle remembered him after their meeting in Auckland as a blue-turbaned, eager man, “half Western Science, half Eastern Mystic.” Rain God, by Australian journalist Ian James Frazer documents Wragge’s orphaned and privileged childhood in England’s Midlands, his adventurous career and fraught marriage in Scotland and Australia and guru years in Zealand. In 1902, Australia’s Federation drought tipped Wragge from orthodox meteorology into speculative sunspot-watching, long-range forecasting and rainmaking rocketry. Searching for answers, he campaigned against land clearing by ringbarking — which he believed worsened droughts. He also advocated revegetation and water conservation schemes. 

“In this first full-length biography of Wragge, Ian Frazer has made a significant contribution to the literature of weather and climate in Australia. Rain God will sit firmly on the shelf beside David Day's 100-year history of the Bureau of Meteorology, The Weather Watchers (2007), Lawrie Zion's The Weather Obsession (2017), and many others.” — Robert Hefner, The Canberra Times, June 27, 2023

Birkenhead Library Community Room, Thursday, June 27, 5.30pm – 7pm, to be launched by John Adam, a New Zealand landscape historian specialising in endangered gardens. John and author Ian Frazer will discuss Wragge’s legacy in Auckland and his wider fame as a meteorologist and conservationist. Copies of Rain God will be available for sale at $35, cash preferred.

All welcome. Please RSVP Neeli Govender, Birkenhead Library. Drinks, nibbles provided., or call 093770209

Meteorological Society of New Zealand
PO Box 238
Mosgiel 9053
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