Supported by Dr John and Mrs Heather Seymour AO

The Informed Imagination

Presented by Drusilla Modjeska on Thursday 26 September 2013

How do you write about completely different ways of being in the world? When Drusilla Modjeska decided to write about Papua New Guinea and its people, she discovered that her usual, biographical approach to writing was at odds with her subject.

In this lecture, the author of Poppy, Stravinsky’s Lunch and The Mountain explores what happens when biography, autobiography and memoir are unable to tell the story.

Drusilla Modjeska was born in London in 1946 and raised in Hampshire, the eldest of three sisters. At the age of 20, she married an anthropologist, and together they left for Papua New Guinea. Her years there, including as a student at the University of Papua New Guinea, laid the basis for her enduring interest in the Pacific, and in Papua New Guinea in particular.

In 2004 Drusilla Modjeska was one of the first outsiders to visit the barkcloth artists of Ömie in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, from which The Mountain’s fictional mountain people are drawn. She now returns to Papua New Guinea frequently, and in 2011 co-founded the SEAM (Sustain Education Art Melanesia) fund.

Listen to the lecture on our podcast page

Read the essay: The Informed Imagination (Word Document)

Drusilla Modjeska

Drusilla Modjeska

Author Drusilla Modjeska at the National Library of Australia for the 2013 Seymour Biography Lecture, Canberra