Born in Auckland in 1908, A.W. Reed (Alexander Wyclif) was educated at Mt Albert Grammar School. In 1932, he helped to found a book-publishing business, A.H. & A.W. Reed, one of New Zealand's leading publishing houses of the time with an enduring list of local books. Reed wrote more than 200 books himself, with a range of reference works and popular accounts of Maori culture. He died in 1979.