Dame Edna Everage, 1982
by Lewis Morley
direct positive colour photograph (sheet: 78.3 x 50.8 cm, image: 61.9 x 41.8 cm, frame: 103.8 x 76.4 cm)
Barry Humphries AO (b.1934) created Mrs Edna Everage in 1955. Named after Humphries's first nanny, the Moonee Ponds housewife was launched in a sketch depicting the difficulties facing a Melbourne hostess in the reception of 'foreign visitors'. Humphries scathingly represented the particularity of the bourgeois Melbourne suburbs through Everage's painfully selfconscious language, drawing fine distinctions between terms such as 'sofa' and 'lounge' and 'garden' and 'yard'. Accordingly, he was at first unsure whether the character would translate to overseas audiences. However, over the years Everage's parochial vulgarity has found increasingly flamboyant international expression in shows such as Housewife, Super-star; Edna, the Spectacle; and Dame Edna the Royal Tour. Confusingly, Everage has recently acted in the role of Claire Otoms in the US TV series Ally McBeal.
Gift of the artist 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2002.13
More about the artist and subject
Magazine article, Portrait 7
Myself and Eye
Magda Keaney speaks with Lewis Morley about his photographic career and the major retrospective of his work on display at the NPG.
Magazine article, Portrait 6
No Laughing Matter
The biographical exhibition of Barry Humphries was the first display of its kind at the National Portrait Gallery.
The Lives of Barry Humphries
The exhibition begins with Barry's childhood in Camberwell, Melbourne and chronicles his days as a struggling actor in Australia and England, his creation of characters including Barry McKenzie, Dame Edna Everage, Sandy Stone and Sir Les Patterson
Permanent collection catalogue
On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.