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Dame Edna Everage
, 1982

by Lewis Morley

direct positive colour photograph (sheet: 78.3 cm x 50.8 cm, image: 61.9 cm x 41.8 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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2002.13