DAME EDNA Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » dame edna


NAME: Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage)
  BORN: 17/02/1934
  BIRTH PLACE: Melbourne, Australia


Humphries was the son of a well-to-do builder. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School, before studying Law at Melbourne University. However, he became more interested in performance art, and dropped out after two years. He soon became Australia’s leading exponent of the deconstructive and absurd art movement, Dadaism.


The first stage sketch featuring Mrs Edna Everage, ‘Olympic Hostess’, premiered in December 1955, but appeared only occasionally until the 1960s, as Humphries was involved in many other stage projects. In London he began to write for Private Eye, and was a regular on the BBC’s satirical ‘Late Show’.


The character of “Dame” Edna Everage took off in the 1960s, making Humphries famous, although “her” name is now much better known than his.


Over a career of nearly fifty years, Barry Humphries has written many books, including a novel, made scores of recordings and written and produced films and television series. Edna has produced records and books of her own, broken theatre records in England, and won fame and critical acclaim in the US.


Humphries’ other comic characters, mostly parodies of Australian culture, include Edna’s nephew, Barry McKenzie; inebriated cultural attache, Sir Les Patterson; and socialist academic, Neil Singleton. He has also remained a serious landscape artist.


Humphries lives in Britain and the US, but makes frequent visits to Australia. Amongst his many awards and honours are the Order of Australia; honorary doctorates from Melbourne and Griffith Universities; the J.R. Ackerley Prize; the Golden Rose of Montreux; a Special Tony Award; and the Outer Critics Circle Award.