Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts


Faculty of Creative Arts


My submission for the degree is comprised of two components: the text of my novel Travelling with the Duke and the supporting exegesis Travelling with the Duke: Origins, Structure, Technique. Travelling with the Duke has been accepted for publication by Random House in early 2009.

Travelling with the Duke is a romantic comedy set in Australia and Italy. It is a comic variation on the theme of the fatal charm of Italy. The novel is written in the tradition of fictions about English-speakers travelling to Italy. The novel explores the fatal attraction of Italy, Italian culture, and Tuscany in particular for three generations of Australian women.

Renaissance art is a major motif, explored from the perspectives of experts and amateurs from Italy and Australia. Particular art works inform the structure of the narrative and shape the meaning of the novel. Piero della Francesca’s fifteenth-century portrait of the Duke of Urbino is vivid and present throughout, his relationship with Nelly develops with the plot. As the novel opens, Nelly, understood by her family to have no friends, relies on the Duke for companionship and advice. By the novel’s close Nelly has acquired a cast of more current confidantes and friends.

For Nelly’s daughter, Jenny, the novel is a journey from personal fantasies and loneliness through to a confrontation with renaissance art in Florence as a threat followed by personal transformation and reconciliation.

Nelly’s granddaughter, Katherine, an Australian art historian, is transformed from limited professional observation of art to the reality of romance, the erotic and artistic creativity.

The exegesis, Travelling with the Duke: Origins, Structure, Technique, explains the influences that have shaped the novel, and its narrative structure and literary concerns. I am a playwright with a considerable body of work including plays that have been performed in Australia and internationally. I have a long connection with theatre as an actor and director. For long periods of my life I have lived and worked in Italy; and like many of the characters, I remain a student of the language. The exegesis explores how my background and experiences have informed the style and narrative.

The exegesis describes and analyses other main structural and stylistic issues including: the genre of the English-speaking traveller in Italy; intertextual use of literary models and renaissance art; and literary theory. E.M.Forster provides a central reference point for my interest in the travel genre. The application of theory to my work is examined in relation to M.M. Bakhtin’s theory of the novel; theory that is founded in an interest in the historical and social world and the relations between representation and reality.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.