Antonella Gambotto-Burke

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Antonella Gambotto-Burke
Born Antonella Josephine Clementine Gambotto
(1965-09-19) 19 September 1965 (age 52)
Sydney, Australia
Occupation Journalist, nonfiction writer, novelist
Nationality Italian/Australian
Period 1980–present
Genre memoir, literary nonfiction
Notable works The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide (2004); Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution (2015)
Children Bethesda Gambotto-Burke (born 2005)

Antonella Gambotto-Burke (née Antonella Gambotto, born 19 September 1965) is an Australian author and journalist.

Gambotto-Burke has written one novel, The Pure Weight of the Heart, two anthologies, Lunch of Blood and An Instinct for the Kill, a memoir, The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide, and Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution, which Professor KJS Anand[1] called "undeniably the most important book of the twenty-first century."[2]

The Sydney Morning Herald named her as a member of Mensa International.[3]


Early years[edit]

Gambotto-Burke was born in North Sydney and moved to East Lindfield on Sydney's North Shore at the age of four, the first child and only daughter of the late Giancarlo Gambotto, whose High Court win against WCP Ltd. changed Australian corporate law, made the front pages of The Australian Financial Review and The Australian, is still featured in corporate law exams, and was the subject of a book edited by Ian Ramsay, Professor of Law at Melbourne University.[4]

She has said that E. B. White's Charlotte's Web made her want to be a writer.[5]

Gambotto-Burke was first published in The Sydney Morning Herald at the age of sixteen – a satire of poet Les Murray's "An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow", later included in Michele Field's anthology Shrinklit (1983). She was first published in The Australian at the age of eighteen. Her first short story was published in literary magazine Billy Blue Magazine in July 1982.[6]

Initial journalistic success and controversy[edit]

In 1984, at the age of 19, she moved to London, where she was employed as a music critic by NME and where, on the advice of an editor, she wrote under the pseudonyms Antonella Black and Ginger Meggs.[7] Her review of Cliff Richard's concert inspired him to sue the music journal. She also wrote "A Man Called Horse", an unflattering cover story of alternative rock star Nick Cave, in which she documented his heroin-induced stupor (in retaliation, he wrote a song about her and British journalist Mat Snow entitled "Scum"; a photograph of Gambotto-Burke and Snow was published with Snow's account of the story in The Guardian).[8] Gambotto-Burke wrote about the experience most recently in September 2006,[9] and the interview has been reprinted for the third time in Nick Cave: Sinner, Saint.[10] The Cave interview, and the story behind it, are also included in her book Lunch of Blood, while Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds included a version of "Scum" on their 2005 box set, B-Sides And Rarities.

Gambotto-Burke's best known comic interview – with Warwick Capper,[11] a retired Australian rules footballer, and his wife – is included in The Best Australian Profiles (Black Inc., 2004). "The best profiles lodge deep in the public mind, such as ... Antonella Gambotto's cheerfully dopey Warwick and Joanne Capper, which presaged by years the arrival of Kath & Kim", Matthew Ricketson wrote in 2005.[12]

Her interviewees included Martin Amis,[13] Elle Macpherson, Gerard Depardieu, Ben Elton, Morrissey, Thierry Mugler, Marc Newson, Deepak Chopra, Flavio Briatore, Robert Smith, Erica Jong, Colleen McCullough, Jeffrey Archer, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Jerry Hall and Naomi Wolf.[14]

Gambotto-Burke won UK Cosmopolitan magazine's New Journalist of the Year Award in 1988. That same year, she became engaged to the UK GQ editor Michael VerMeulen. In 1989 she returned to Sydney, after the demise of her relationship with VerMeulen, who died from a cocaine overdose at the age of 38 in 1995. Before leaving London, Gambotto-Burke wrote for The Independent on Sunday, notably a cover story on cardiothoracic surgeons.[15]

In 1989, she returned to Sydney, where she resumed contributing to The Weekend Australian as a feature profile writer and literary critic, and also began writing for The South China Morning Post, The Globe and Mail in Canada, Harper's Bazaar, Men's Style Australia, and other international publications. Channel Nine Entertainment Director Richard Wilkins noted that "if you're on her wavelength, the interview is a most enjoyable experience. If not, it could be quite disconcerting. The key is to be open and honest with her."[16]


Lunch of Blood (Random House, 1994), her first book and first anthology, peaked at number six on the best-seller lists. The Newcastle Herald observed that Gambotto-Burke's "command of language is delicious to the point where one wonders which came first, her wish to display her ability or the desire to share her impressions." In 1997, An Instinct for the Kill, her second anthology, was published to mixed reviews by HarperCollins. (Age critic Katherine Wilson singled out the Capper interview as "laugh-out-loud" funny.)[17]

The introduction to Gambotto-Burke's work in The Best Australian Profiles reads: "Gambotto is probably the closest Australia has come to having a profile writer who is a celebrity in their own right ... and from the early 1990s readers became as interested in Gambotto as they were in the people she profiled."[18]

Edward De Bono, who wrote the foreword to An Instinct for the Kill, tells of her philosophical position: "Antonella is not afraid of words, ideas, her own opinions or the opinions of others. Perception is personal so truth is also personal. This is much more like Protagoras than like Plato. For Protagoras, perception was the only truth – but it was changeable. For Plato, the fascist, truth was what you had reached when you thought it was the absolute."[19]

In Undercover Agent, Murray Waldren noted that "an interview with [Gambotto-Burke] often has the studied savagery of the corrida amid the crystal cruet ambience of high tea at the Ritz. Such ritualistic disembowelling, highly entertaining and in stark contrast to the asinine, PR-driven pap of most modern profiles, leave the gored stirred and very shaken."[20]


She was a contributor to the late Peter Blazey's[21] anthology of short stories Love Cries: Cruel Passions, Strange Desires (1995); in The Sydney Morning Herald, Gail Cork described Gambotto's contribution as "outstanding" and in Who (magazine), Margaret Smith noted its "darkly sinister" overtones.[22] "The Astronomer," a short story presaging many of the themes in her first novel, was published in 1989.[23] Eight years later, Gambotto-Burke's first novel, The Pure Weight of the Heart (also featuring an astronomer), was published by Orion Publishing in London, and went to number six on the Sydney Morning Herald's best-seller list. It was also Tatler's book of the month. Author Matthew Condon elaborated in The Age: "Her razor eye for the architecture of pretension and her ability to record untidied dialogue, especially the way it can betray the human mind and soul, have made her an object of fear and derision. To have been 'Gambottoed' is to have had a vein opened."[24]


After her brother Gianluca, a Macquarie Bank executive,[25] committed suicide in 2001, Gambotto-Burke changed. She began reading obsessively on death and on suicide, "trying to make sense of the experience, trying to become big enough to let go of my brother. That’s what bereavement is about – surrendering the memory, the relationship."[26] To this end, she relocated to Byron Bay, where she wrote The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide, a book about her brother's suicide and her engagement to, and the death of, late British GQ editor Michael VerMeulen. In a November 2003 interview with a British magazine, she said: "I wanted to explain depression as a valid emotional response rather than as a disease ... I am not ashamed of my brother, and I do not see death as tragic – deliberate ignorance and fear are tragedies, not death."[27]

In a 2004 review section cover story for The Weekend Australian, Murray Waldren wrote that Gambotto-Burke used to be "upfront in other ways, being acerbic and self-deprecatory while displaying trip-wire intellect and romantic girlishness ... But the past ten years have been a whirl of small triumphs, deep sorrows and much death, and they have left Gambotto bruised, saddened, and now, resolutely remade."[26]


Gambotto-Burke was commissioned to write the core love stories of artist David Bromley's[28] series of films, I Could Be Me[29] (narrated by Hugo Weaving), which premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 2008. In an essay, she noted that, "As scripts are founded on what Alan Alda calls the 'subsurface tectonics of emotion,' the result can sometimes be a psychic slam dunk."[30] Director Bromley described the film as "like a kaleidoscope of images and it is run by my poetry and short stories by Antonella. And it has a large animation component."[31]


Gambotto-Burke dedicated her first book about parenthood, Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution (2015)[32] to her daughter Bethesda, who was born in December 2005. The foreword was written by the French obstetrician and academic Michel Odent.[33] [34][35] Gambotto-Burke is a vocal advocate of increased intimacy with children[36] and practised co-sleeping.[37] Controversially, she also home-schools her daughter. [38] In a Life Matters interview with Natasha Mitchell, Dr. John Irvine[39] described Mama as being to motherhood what The Female Eunuch was to feminism.[40] "As a community," Gambotto-Burke said, "we need to start addressing child-rearing in terms of intimacy rather than as merely ministering to a series of developmental stages. We need to ask ourselves whether the family environment fosters intimacy or prevents it, and that applies to everything from the degree of technological use/distraction in the home to the amount of additives consumed by children and, critically, to how emotionally present we are when we are with our children."[41]

Recent work[edit]

Gambotto-Burke has in recent years changed her journalistic focus. Her writing about human trafficking has been syndicated around the world. She is also a widely published literary critic and essayist, and has written a number of lead news stories for The Australian's business pages, most recently about lawyers and legal issues.[42][43][44][45][46] In May 2013, award-winning artist Rosemary Valadon's oil and crayon portraits of Gambotto-Burke were featured in the Wicked Women exhibition, showcasing her bat tattoo.[47]






As a contributor[edit]

  • Nick Cave: Sinner, Saint: The True Confessions, 30 Years of Essential Interviews, edited by Mat Snow (Plexus Publishing, 2011).
  • My Favourite Teacher, edited by Robert Macklin (University of New South Wales Press, 2011).[51]
  • Your Mother Would Be Proud: True Tales of Mayhem and Misadventure,, edited by Tamara Sheward and Jenny Valentish (Allen & Unwin, 2009).[52]
  • What Is Mother Love?, edited by Selwa Anthony (Penguin, 2008).
  • Some Girls Do ... My Life as a Teenager, edited by Jacinta Tynan (Allen & Unwin, 2007).
  • The Best Australian Profiles, edited by Matthew Ricketson (Black Inc., 2004).
  • The Thoughts of Chairman Stan, by Stan Zemanek (HarperCollins Australia, 1998): afterword by Gambotto-Burke.
  • Love Cries: Cruel Passions, Strange Desires, edited by Peter Blazey (HarperCollins Australia, 1995).
  • This I Believe: 100 Eminent Australians Explore Life's Big Question, edited by John Marsden (writer) (Random House Australia, 1996).
  • ShrinkLit, edited by Michele Field (Penguin, 1983).

Visual media[edit]


  • I Could Be Me, directed by David Bromley (2008)

Television appearances[edit]

Gambotto-Burke has appeared on programs such as Beauty & The Beast[53] (Channel Ten, Foxtel), The Midday Show (Channel 9), Meet the Press (SBS), Wake Up[54] (Channel Ten), Mornings (Channel 9) and performed cameos on Paul Fenech's SBS sitcom Pizza.


  1. ^ KJS Anand biography Archived 19 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Pinter and Martin page on Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution
  3. ^ "Mensa's Australian connection," The Sydney Morning Herald, 19–20 June 2004.
  4. ^ Gambotto v WCP Ltd: Its Implications for Corporate Regulation, edited by Ian M. Ramsay, Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation, Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 1996. ISBN 0-7325-0821-5
  5. ^ Interview by Finnish poet Kimmo Leijala
  6. ^ Billy Blue Magazine covers[permanent dead link]. Ross Renwick
  7. ^ Introduction, An Instinct for the Kill, by Antonella Gambotto, HarperCollins, 1997
  8. ^ "Bet you think this song is about you," by Dave Simpson, The Guardian, 13 December 2008.
  9. ^ "Scum: The Inside Dope," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, Men's Style, Spring 2006.
  10. ^ Nick Cave: Sinner, Saint – The True Confessions, edited by Mat Snow, Plexus Publishing, 2011.
  11. ^ "The Blond Leading the Blond," by Antonella Gambotto, Mode, 1994
  12. ^ "Close Up: Review," by Matthew Ricketson, The Age, 18 June 2005.
  13. ^ The Martin Amis Interview
  14. ^ Author's website
  15. ^ "Affairs of the Heart," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Independent on Sunday Review, 17 March 1991.
  16. ^ "In the blood," by Murray Waldren, The Australian Magazine, 26–27 March 1994.
  17. ^ "The Best Australian Profiles: Review," by Katherine Wilson, The Age, 23 October 2004.
  18. ^ The Best Australian Profiles, edited by Matthew Ricketson, Black Inc., 2004.
  19. ^ An Instinct for the Kill, by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, HarperCollins, 1997 (back cover).
  20. ^ Dining Out with Mr. Lunch, by Murray Waldren, University of Queensland Press, 1999.
  21. ^ The Peter Blazey Fellowship, School of Historical Studies, The Australia Center, 2009
  22. ^ "A Vile Book for Mean and Pitiful People," by Gail Cork, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 1995; "Love Cries," by Margaret Smith, Who, 27 February 1995.
  23. ^ "The Astronomer," by Antonella Gambotto, Billy Blue Magazine, Summer 1989.
  24. ^ "Another phrase of her life," by Matthew Condon, The Age, 22 August 1998.
  25. ^ The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide, by Antonella Gambotto-Burke
  26. ^ a b "Death and the Maiden," by Murray Waldren, The Weekend Australian, 20–21 March 1994.
  27. ^ "Soul Searcher," by Laura McCreddie, Yoga Magazine, Issue 10, November 2003.
  28. ^ David Bromley's personal website Archived 12 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine.. David Bromley
  29. ^ One of Gambotto-Burke's stories from artist David Bromley's film "I Could Be Me"
  30. ^ "Words in Motion," by Antonella Gambotto, The Weekend Australian, 21–22 May 2005.
  31. ^ "Artist's film draws on a life of images," by Penelope Debelle, The Age, 4 September 2006.
  32. ^ "Antonella Gambotto-Burke's Guide to Motherhood," Elle magazine, April 2015
  33. ^ "Mothers 'risk losing ability to give birth'," by Sian Griffiths and Sanya Burgess, The Sunday Times, May 24, 2015
  34. ^ "Women risk losing ability to give birth naturally," by Rozina Sabur, The Telegraph, May 24, 2015
  35. ^ "Do we need midwives book claims giving birth naturally getting harder," The Australian, May 25, 2015
  36. ^ "In defence of attachment parenting," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Australian, May 26, 2014
  37. ^ "The Nine Questions Everyone Asks About Cosleeping"
  38. ^ "How home-schooling helps me and my daughter bond, by author of Mama, a new book," by Mark Footer, The South China Morning Post, May 30, 2015
  39. ^ Dr. John Irvine, Read Clinic profile Archived 29 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ Life Matters
  41. ^ "Facing the onslaught of maternal intimacy," by Andie Fox, Daily Life, Fairfax, June 5, 2014
  42. ^ "Working for Justice," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Australian, 16 July 2010
  43. ^ "Business demands fixed fees as revolt builds against billable hours," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Australian, 20 August 2010
  44. ^ "Alternative billing hours the way of the future," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Australian, 20 August 2010
  45. ^ "Corporates taken to the cleaners with billing abuses," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Australian, 27 August 2010
  46. ^ "Battle to curb billing abuses to gain impetus," by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Australian, 24 September 2010
  47. ^ "Pulp Fiction", by Elizabeth Fortescue, The Daily Telegraph, October 20, 2012.
  48. ^ Mouth (book)
  49. ^ Arbon website
  50. ^ Pinter & Martin website
  51. ^ Robert Macklin Archived 10 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine. at the Melbourne Writers' Festival, 2009
  52. ^ Your Mother Would Be Proud Archived 11 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. – official website
  53. ^ Beauty & the Beast episode, 1999
  54. ^ Wake Up! segment April 24, 2014

External links[edit]