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Sat, 15 July


Better Read Than Dead

An Afternoon with Jessica Kirkness and Fiona Murphy

Join Jessica Kirkness for an afternoon talk with tea, champagne and cakes to celebrate the release of The House with All the Lights On. Jessica will be in conversation with Fiona Murphy

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An Afternoon with Jessica Kirkness and Fiona Murphy
An Afternoon with Jessica Kirkness and Fiona Murphy

Time & Location

15 July 2023, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Better Read Than Dead, 265 King St, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia


About The Event

This event will be AUSLAN interpreted.

'If I were to tell you our story in sign language—the story of my grandparents and me—I'd begin with a single finger touching my chest.'

For most of her life Jessica Kirkness has traversed the boundary between deaf and hearing cultures, sometimes sitting on the periphery, and other times acting as a bridge between worlds.

The House With All the Lights On tells the story of her grandparents' experience of growing up in a hearing world—one where sign language was banned for much of the twentieth century—and, weaving in her own experience as a hearing child being raised in a family that often struggled to navigate their elders' disability, Jessica provides an insightful account of her family's history and the broader history of deafness in Australia and the UK. This journey takes her to sign language classes, to the workplaces of research audiologists, and even back to England where she visits her grandparents' old schools and other family landmarks—all while also navigating the throes of grief, both for the loss of her grandfather during the pandemic and for all the ways her grandparents and their deafness have been so terribly misunderstood. The House With All The Lights On captures the universal experience of navigating complex family relationships and beautifully explores the nuances of identity in what is both a memoir and a love letter to those she loves most.

Jessica Kirkness is a writer and researcher who lives in Sydney on Cammeraygal land. Her work has been published in Meanjin and The Conversation, among other outlets. In 2021, her manuscript was shortlisted for the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers. In the same year, she also received a commendation for the Peter Blazey Fellowship, awarded to writers in the field of Life Writing. Earning her PhD in 2019, her research investigates the value of life writing and creative nonfiction in animating the 'hearing line': the invisible boundary between Deaf and hearing cultures. She currently teaches nonfiction writing at Macquarie University. The House With All The Lights On is her first book.

Fiona Murphy is an award-winning writer, editor and accessibility consultant based in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, ABC, The Saturday Paper, Griffith Review, The Big Issue, among many other publications. Fiona’s debut memoir, The Shape of Sound, explores her experiences with deafness and disability.

Fiona has worked as an accessibility consultant for government, not-for-profit and arts organisations. As a sought after facilitator, Fiona regularly runs workshops in disability awareness, inclusion, communication and creativity.

She is the project manager of Communication for Safe Care; a groundbreaking research and co-design project which aims to make public healthcare more accessible for people with communication disabilities.


  • Event Ticket

    This ticket includes tea, champagne and treats.

    Sale ended
  • Event + Book

    This ticket includes tea, champagne and treats, with a copy of The House with All the Lights On

    Sale ended



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