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Stead biography wins $35,000 writer’s award

Strictly embargoed until 7.30pm, Tuesday 31 October 2006

Stead biography wins $35,000 writer’s award

The life and literature of renowned writer, CK Stead will be revealed in a new book thanks to a $35,000 writer’s award from Copyright Licensing Limited (CLL).

The award presented to academic and writer, Judith Dell Panny, at a ceremony in Auckland tonight will enable her to write the Stead biography.

Social historian, novelist and autobiographer, Stevan Eldred-Grigg also received a $35,000 CLL writer’s award for a book on the history of the New Zealand gold rushes.

Judges convenor for the awards, Jenny Jones, says the winning applications stood out amidst strong competition for the breadth and relevance of what they were offering.

‘The winning applications promise books of high quality and huge relevance to New Zealand.’

Manawatu resident and emeritus researcher at Massey University, Judith Dell Panny says the award is tremendously encouraging. ‘Winning this award brings a degree of recognition to my work that I have not received before.’

She says CK Stead is an outstanding writer whose work has been underrated perhaps because of his reputation for criticism and controversy.

‘I hope to increase understanding of this complex, versatile and innovative writer; to relate CK Stead’s writing to his life, to talk of the things that have occupied him, what he has fought for.’

Panny’s previous work in the field of literary criticism has been highly praised both by academics and by the authors themselves - Janet Frame, Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme and Patricia Grace – who say Panny has understood their work with a depth rarely achieved.

Stevan Eldred-Grigg says the award will give him that rare commodity: freedom.

‘Freedom to go into things thoroughly. Freedom to think deeply. Freedom to make my book about the gold rushes a strong, supple and lively look at one of the most vivid, yet sketchily understood, sagas in the history of New Zealand.’

This is the fourth year CLL has awarded two such cash prizes. The awards are financed from copyright licensing revenue collected by CLL from New Zealand institutions on behalf of authors and publishers.

‘Every company and institution with a copyright licence has contributed to tonight’s awards. Over time, the body of New Zealand writing published from these awards will enrich us as a nation,’ says CLL Chief Executive, Kathy Sheat.

Previous recipients of the CLL writers’ awards are:
• Jill Trevelyan who is writing a biography of painter, Rita Angus;
• Rowan Taylor for a biography of Allan Wilson – the distinguished New Zealand scientist who revolutionised evolutionary biology;
• poet and critic, David Eggleton, who is using the prize to write a contemporary guide to New Zealand cultural history;
• Lloyd Spencer Davis who describes his work-in-progress as a science book – the unravelling of Darwin and Darwinism;
• Dr Paul Millar a senior lecturer at Victoria University’s School of English, Film and Theatre for a biography of one of this country’s most important literary scholars and cultural theorists, Bill Pearson;
• and novelist and biographer, Sarah Quigley to enable her to write a biography of poet and writers’ patron, Charles Brasch.

CLL acts on behalf of publishers and authors from around the world in providing licensing services for the reproduction of extracts from published works. Established in 1988, Copyright Licensing Limited is a non-profit company jointly owned by the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Company supports the aims of the Copyright Act 1994 in balancing the need for public access to copyright works with the right of creators to earn a living from their works.


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