Plume of Bees


About the book

Talented fiction writer

Consummate poet

Controversial critic, essayist ...

C.K. Stead is one of New Zealand's most honoured writers and probably the most argued about. Judith Dell Panny has become a literary detective in her research into the origins of the Stead opus, from his early life to his influences here and abroad and their effects on his work. Controversies swirl around Stead. Why and how does he write as he does? What has shaped him, what are the patterns, repeated and intricate, that permeate his extraordinary and ongoing work? In her investigations, Panny also assesses the many effects his writing has on others. With Stead nobody sits on the fence.

Why do the Literati Hate Karl Stead? was the feature in North and South. Yet Janet Frame had "a feeling of amazed gratitude" because of Panny's book on her own work, I Have What I Gave . Readers, said Frame, would now be able to approach her work from new and original perspectives, enabling them to find their way through her writing in ways (she hoped) that are rewarding and enjoyable. In Plume of Bees Panny has now done this for Stead, and more. She gives us a balanced view of the positive and negative extremes on his reputation, an exciting, even essential approach to the writer who is a contender for the title of outstanding all-rounder in New Zealand literature.

About the author

Dr Judith Dell Panny is a respected academic and is an honorary research fellow, School of English and Media Studies, Massey University. She is author of many publications, including her well received book on Janet Frame: I have What I Gave: The Fiction of Janet Frame . She has taught New Zealand literature at tertiary institutions in New Zealand and Germany. She lives in Ashhurst, Manawatu.


A literary biography of CK Stead with analysis of how Stead's background and influences have shaped his literary output and stature.


Author, Judith Dell Panny
CLL Award