The Trials of Minnie Dean: a verse biography by Karen Zelas

9780994129994ISBN 978-0-9941299-9-4
July 2017
Poetry collection
150x190mm, paperback, 210pp
RRP $25

for bairns it is what
women do why god gave us
two arms: one to hold a child a-hip
t’other to stir the pot …

Minnie Dean: the first – and only – woman to be hanged in New Zealand. Baby farmer and child murderer, or hardworking wife and mother, supporting her family by caring for unwanted children in a society that shunned her?

Karen Zelas explores the trials of Minnie Dean using a myriad of voices, including Dean’s own, from her childhood in Scotland to the gallows in Invercargill, 1895.

Karen small fileAbout the author

Karen Zelas is a Christchurch writer and editor. She commenced writing full-time in 2006, following a career in psychiatry and psychotherapy.

Karen is the author of a novel and two poetry collections, with her verse play Geography of Loss performed in 2014, and her poetry winning places in several competitions in New Zealand and Australia. She is an editor of takahē literary and arts magazine and has recently started a small press, Pūkeko Publications.



“heartbreaking and compelling.” ­— Booksellers NZ

“The prosecution of iconic Dean, the first – and only – woman to be hanged in Aotearoa, is navigated like a Greek Tragedy.” — Siobhan Harvey