Clare Gleeson is a social historian with particular interests in New Zealand’s musical and gardening histories. Clare studied history at the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington. Her doctoral thesis looked at domestic music making in New Zealand from 1840 to 1940 and the music trade – those who supplied the instruments (usually the piano) and music to enable this musical activity to take place. She was awarded the Bowen Prize and the Zander and Dryden Families Prize for History by Victoria University of Wellington.
Clare is currently co-curating a website on New Zealand musical personalities active between 1840 and 1920, featuring composers, music retailers and publishers. Musical Notables of New Zealand was launched in 2019 and is an ongoing project.
As a result of Clare’s research into the Begg chain of music shops and the business’ contribution to New Zealand, the founders Charles and Jessie Begg are being inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame in February 2022.
A keen gardener, Clare’s research interest has more recently focused on New Zealand’s gardening history, in particular those individuals who have contributed to New Zealand’s rich horticultural landscape.
In 2020 Clare was awarded the Pratt Family Scholarship by Heritage Roses New Zealand Inc to undertake research into garden designer Alfred Buxton’s use of roses. She has forthcoming articles in Historic Gardens Review, The Gardener’s Journal and New Zealand Gardener.