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Rachel McAlpine

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Name  Rachel McAlpine
Role  Writer

Rachel McAlpine wwwplaymarketorgnzsitesdefaultfilesimagesM
Books  Web word wizardry, Write Me a Web Page - Elsie!: Ho, Scarlet Heels: 26 Stories a, Farewell Speech, Global English for Global Bu

Education  University of Canterbury

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Rachel Phyllis McAlpine (born 1940 in Fairlie, New Zealand) is a writer and web content strategist. She is the author of 30 books including poetry, plays, novels, and books about writing. Since 1996 she has trained people how to write business content for a digital and electronic world. In 2007 she launched Contented Enterprises jointly with Alice Hearnshaw to provide scalable, cost-effective online training courses for business writers.


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McAlpine and her five sisters grew up in small-town vicarages in Canterbury, New Zealand. When she was 10 the family moved to Christchurch, where she attended Christchurch Girls High School and Canterbury University, graduating BA and Senior Scholar. She was married twice: to civil engineer Grant McAlpine (1969–1981) and to artist Michael Smither (1988–1992).

After four years in Geneva she moved to Masterton, New Zealand. There she raised four children, taught high school, wrote her first poetry book, and gained a Dip. Ed (Massey University) and B.A. Hons (Victoria University of Wellington).

McAlpine says that her career swerved abruptly in May 1995, when she first saw a web site. As a writer, she immediately realized that traditional writing styles would need to change for this new medium. She began teaching short courses on writing and managing web content in 1996, writing her first book on the topic, Web Word Wizardry, in 1999.

As Curriculum Director of Contented Enterprises, McAlpine created online writing courses. Contented teaches writing skills needed for blogs, social media, intranets, web sites, email, e-learning, and all documents that are managed electronically. Contented courses go beyond the traditional print-based curriculum for business writing: they show how to make content accessible and searchable. McAlpine's courses and conference speeches are original and playful (as befits a poet), while delivering solid information.

Besides her professional work, McAlpine writes two personal blogs. She lives in Wellington, dances with the Crows Feet Dance Collective, walks a lot and does Tai Chi. She also lobbies for plain language communication from government agencies.


  • Business blog: Contented—content that makes people happy
  • Personal blog: Old Lady Laughing
  • Writing on the Web
  • Quality Web Content
  • Honours

    2010 Writer in residence, Chateau de Lavigny, Switzerland

    1993–1995 Guest Professor, Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts, Kyoto

    1991 New Zealand Scholarship in Letters

    1986 Writer in Residence, Canterbury University

    1982 Australia-New Zealand Writer’s Fellowship, Macquarie University


    2009 Write me a web page, Elsie! (Wellington, New Zealand: CC Press)

    2007 Better Business Writing on the Web. (Wellington, New Zealand: CC Press)

    2000 Nine Winning Habits of Successful Authors (Wellington: CC Press.)

    1999 Crash Course in Corporate Communications (Wellington: CC Press, Revised 2006)

    1999 Web Word Wizardry (Wellington: CC Press; 2002. 2nd edition. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed)

    1998 The Passionate Pen: Romance Writers of New Zealand speak to Rachel McAlpine (Christchurch: Hazard)

    1997 Global English for Global Business (Auckland: Addison Wesley Longman; reprinted CC Press 2005)

    1996 The Great New Zealand Study Trip (Auckland: New House)

    1995 Ready for English (Wellington: Learning Media)

    1995 Katherine Mansfield in New Zealand (Tokyo: Asahi Press)

    1994 The Secret Life of New Zealand (Tokyo: Tairyusha)

    1994 Masako in New Zealand (Tokyo: Tairyusha)

    1992 Real Writing (Wellington: GP Publications)

    1980 Song in the Satchel: Poetry in the High School (Wellington: NZCER)


    2010 Scarlet Heels (Wellington: CC Press)

    2005 Humming (Christchurch: Hazard)

    1990 Farewell Speech (Auckland: Penguin Books). 1996 Translated into Japanese by Masako Meio (Tokyo: Shinsui-Sha)

    1987 Running Away from Home (Auckland: Penguin)

    1986 The Limits of Green (Auckland: Penguin)


    2005 A for Blog (Wellington: CC Press)

    2001 Another 100 New Zealand Poems for Children (Ed.)(Auckland: Random House)

    1993 Tourist in Kyoto (Wellington: Nutshell Books)

    1988 Selected Poems (Wellington: Mallinson Rendel)

    1986 Thirteen Waves (Palmerston North: Homeprint)

    1983 Recording Angel (Wellington: Mallinson Rendel)

    1980 House Poems (Wellington: Nutshell Books)

    1978 Fancy Dress (Auckland: Cicada)

    1977 Stay at the Dinner Party (Dunedin: Caveman)

    1975 Lament for Ariadne (Dunedin: Caveman)

    Children's books

    1994 Maria and the Lady Next Door (Wellington: Learning Media Limited, tr. 4 Pacific languages)

    1993 Maria in the Middle (London: HarperCollins) (also broadcast by NZ On Air)

    Stage Plays

    2000 The Dazzling Night: a Noh play in English (Produced Le Mata Theatre, Auckland; published Kyoto Journal & New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies)

    1990 Power Play (Wellington: Playmarket; various productions)

    1988 Peace Offering (Auckland: Heinemanns; various productions)

    1980 The Stationary Sixth Form Poetry Trip (Wellington: Playmarket; many productions)

    1985 Driftwood (Wellington: Victoria University Press; many productions)

    Plays performed but not published

    1989 (adapted from Katherine Mansfield) The Stranger, Mr Reginald Peacock's Day (Radio New Zealand)

    1988 The Op Shop Quartet (Radio New Zealand)

    1984 Quite Nice Really (Radio New Zealand)

    1982 Cats Don't Marry (Radio New Zealand)

    1981 The Life Fantastic (Radio New Zealand)

    1986 Paper Towers (Christchurch: Court Theatre (New Zealand))


    Rachel McAlpine Wikipedia