Alex Burke, Gail Pemberton + Family vs. Antonella Gambotto-Burke //

 What follows is the letter dated April 27, 2021, that my ex-husband, on behalf of himself and his mother, the high-profile multimillionaire investment banker Gail Pemberton (aka Gail Burke, Gail Pemberton-Burke and Gail Maria Pemberton), formerly of Macquarie Bank, CIO of the Decade and recipient of the Order of Australia, her brother, the historian Gregory Pemberton, her sister, politics lecturer and author JoAnne Pemberton, and her other son, the London-based financier Christian Pemberton, instructed his lawyer, Mr Warren Krass, to write to me.

A significantly longer letter, surprisingly including the full confidential terms of the Undertaking itself, was emailed to the publisher Pinter & Martin London of my upcoming book, Apple: Sex, Drugs, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, on April 14, 2021.

It seems the Pemberton family must be concerned that I may have written about them in my book. Why should they think this? Can it be because the words “sex” and “drugs” are in the book title?

In fact I do not mention any of them.

The allegedly “vile, false and defamatory” slurs to which Mr Krass refers in his letter to my publisher were contained in an email I forwarded to certain members of the media and financial community in 2018.

Mr Krass now warns me in terms:  “We give you notice that you must provide a copy of your undertaking to the Court to any potential publisher of your material”.

Precisely in order to honour his demand, I herewith openly and publicly alert all possible publishers of my writings now or in the future to his letter.

As I elected to sign an Undertaking (with no admission of wrongdoing) to the British Court in 2018 to end a long series of legal onslaughts by the Pembertons, I cannot tell my side of the story fully, but can say only this in my own defence:

Over the many years of the Pemberton family’s legal onslaughts upon me, but also indirectly, upon my daughter Bethesda, no charges have ever been brought against me, no costs orders were made against me, and my ex-husband lost his previously unrestricted access to Bethesda, on certain grounds that I am not at liberty to disclose.

I was awarded Sole Parental Responsibility for Bethesda.

Because of the Pembertons, I was forced at different times to go to the Ballina Court (NSW), the Australian Federal Circuit Court (Brisbane), the London Central Family Court, and the CSA Tribunal (Sydney), all for different aspects of the case. I even saw the Police on numerous occasions.

As regards the interim non-molestation order – in Australia, an AVO – which Mr Krass cites in his letter to my publisher: when the Pemberton family attempted to have me arrested in 2018 on grounds of harassment (for publishing the allegedly “vile, false and defamatory” slurs), I was found by the London Metropolitan Police to have committed no offence thereby.

Mr Krass fails to mention these and other points in his letter.

I trust Mr Krass will now concede that I have complied fully and openly with his demand.


Antonella Gambotto-Burke

Weekly column in the literary pages //

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been offered a weekly column in the literary section of the Weekend Australian, sister paper to the Sunday Times. My first piece, running at almost 1500 words, will be published on May 1.

I was first published in the Australian when I was eighteen, and have been contributing to the paper ever since, so this is really the most wonderful thing.

Below, the illustration that will accompany my byline. They’ve given me a tan – in actuality, I’m as pale as a shroud – but otherwise, it’s relatively accurate.

More to announce, if not just yet x

Penny Rimbaud interview

I’ve been approached by a number of people regarding my interview with CRASS founder, musician and author Penny Rimbaud, so here it is – #4 on the list.

My experience with Penny was interesting. I found him colourful – a shockingly handsome man – but also fundamentally patriarchal, typical of his generation in this respect. Penny sees himself as evolved, but his body language, use of space, and much of his ideology amounts to the usual half-baked Summer of Love platitudes dressed up to seem radical: same old. I go into significantly more detail about this in my book, Apple: Sex, Drugs, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, not about Penny in particular, but the beliefs to which he subscribes.

We need people like Penny – colour and energy and music are fundamental to a meaningful society – but philosophically speaking, he’s not particularly relevant. Having said that, I loved the way he really makes an effort to understand existence. And his aesthetic is glorious.

Photograph by John Gentile

HE was a married literary giant, SHE was a teenage writer he seduced …

“If he had photographed me without my consent I could have legal recourse, yet I am expected to shrug off this repeated use of me as the basis for his most iconic female characters …”

From my story about Martin Amis’ exploitation of our five-year relationship.

Why did I write it? Because Phoebe Phelps was, for me, the end: closure.


Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times // new review

From my review of Robert Muchembled’s Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times, out today in The Weekend Australian:

“The sense of smell is also thought to be responsible for feelings of love, a drive understood by researchers as a form of ‘olfactory ecstasy’. Olfactory fingerprints – or ‘smellprints’ – are unique in both constitution and impact, causing us to be ‘literally led by the nose’ to the beloved. The rightness of a signature smell releases floods of hormones, committing it to memory” 🍎

Still of Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche from Chocolat.

Meals Matter // new review

From my review of Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy, by Michael Symons, out in The Weekend Australian today:

“Rejecting the Platonic abstraction of human appetites, Symons argues that it is in the fundamentally Epicurean restoration of simplicity that human beings can again find meaning and happiness. Neoliberalism, he writes, corrupted liberalism. Nineteenth century economists reframed healthy impulses as greed. The social sciences, too, ‘joined philosophy in dismissing eating and drinking as unworthy’ even though political philosophy and economics are, as he points out, founded on the question of how we should feed ourselves and one another …” 🍎

Photograph by Ellen von Unwerth

The inhuman face

From my lead review of philosopher @marion___zilio‘s glorious new book Faceworld, in today’s Weekend Australian Review:

“Zilio wonders if the ‘return’ of the mask – as symbolised by the filtered, edited selfie – heralds a deepening unease borne of ‘the proliferation and exponential diffusion of faces since the invention of photography.’ And then there is this: masks liberate their wearers, creating a space in which judgment is suspended. In the place of self-knowledge, the mask issues a command for self-completion. We may start with a selfie, she writes, and create ourselves from there.” 🍎

Kylie Jenner on and off Instagram

My interview with Marilyn Manson #throwbacksunday

Below, an excerpt from my interview with alt rock star Marilyn Manson, whom I interviewed in 2007. Here he calmly discusses choking, spitting at and hitting his mother. I’m actually writing about this sort of thing at the moment in my new book Apple: Sex, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, which will be published early next year.

Manson sounded relatively sedated throughout the interview and only became annoyed once, for which I was thankful. Other than the domestic violence towards his mother, substance abuse, general perversity and abusive incidents involving minorities, he was actually kind of charming.

You can find the full interview in MOUTH, my anthology of interviews with an assortment of scoundrels, wastrels, monsters and heroes.

MOUTH is available as an ebook here and through all the international branches of Amazon 🍎

Marilyn Manson interview © Antonella Gambotto-Burke

Cover shot by Quentin Bacon

Dead From the Heart Up / Gavin Ldn

“That doesn’t fly with me –
The gear, the green, the infinity pools
You’re dead from the heart up,
Embalmed in a sarcophagus of cool …”

From Dead From the Heart Up, my very first song with Gavin Ldn, music by the wonderful Alex McGowan – aka Captain Future – from The Future Shape of Sound. So subscribe subscribe subscribe and send it as a gift to someone you love – or used to love – during lockdown.

I draft the vocals for my next song in the studio next week (music by John Robb of postpunk heroes the Membranes).

Lockdown has been complicated for every musician I know – no more crowds or live performances – but we’re all working a way through it.

The good news? It has allowed me to passionately focus on my upcoming book, Apple: Sex, Drugs, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, which will be published early next year. More on Apple soon 🍎

Woody + Mia: A Hitchcockian take on Abelard and Heloise

“Farrow’s response to their affair was agonised but also calibrated. By focusing on Allen, she didn’t have to address the far more threatening narrative contained in her daughter’s choice of partner: that Soon-Yi did not like, love or respect Farrow and may have had good reason for doing so …”