Prisoner and Wicked star Maggie Kirkpatrick has launched her much anticipated autobiography at The Bookshop Darlinghurst tonight.

The 78-year-old doyenne of theatre and television chose the iconic LGBT bookshop for the event, where she personally met fans and signed copies of her book, The Gloves Are Off.


The autobiography traces Kirkpatrick’s life from her childhood in Newcastle, through to early theatre roles, and ultimately to stardom. Along the way, it delves into highly personal issues such as her turbulent marriage, her battles with alcohol, and a high-profile child sexual assault conviction in 2015, which was overturned on appeal.

“My relief and that of my family and friends was indescribable,” she wrote of the experience in the biography. “Nonetheless I felt bruised and deeply affected by the whole dreadful experience.”

More than 100 people queued to meet the actress, with fans of cult TV series Prisoner well represented. Kirkpatrick played the role of Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson on the program for 389 episodes, from 1982 to 1986.

Maggie Kirkpatrick and fan William Brougham. Photo: supplied.

Among the crowd was British-born Redfern resident William Brougham, who told the Star he had been a fan of Kirkpatrick and Prisoner since he was a boy in England in the late 1980s.

“I would sneak downstairs and watch it,” the 42-year-old recalled.

“When my grandmother gave me a pocket television – remember those? – I used to watch it on that but each episode took up a whole battery.”

Brougham – an historian, writer and broadcaster – hypothesised that Prisoner was popular with LGBT audiences due its trailblazing lesbian characters and representation of the underdog.

“I think our community [members] are often marginalised, underdogs and fighters. That pretty much sums up many of the women in Prisoner,” he said.

“I’d also add it was a very camp show with lots of over-the-top drama and a few wobbly sets. Many of us love all that.”

Brougham said Kirkpatrick was “instantly recognisable” in the UK thanks to Prisoner (known as Prisoner: Cell Block H in Britain).

Her profile there has seen her flown to the UK for promotional appearances and a stint on London’s West End with drag queen Lily Savage in Prisoner Cell Block H – The Musical.

Tonight’s Maggie Kirkpatrick signing at The Bookshop follows last night’s successful literary dinner with gay author, academic and activist Dennis Altman.

The dinner, held at the nearby Thai Nesia restaurant in conjunction with The Bookshop, featured Altman in conversation with Jon Symons, discussing Altman’s new book Unrequited Love: Diary of an Accidental Activist.

The Bookshop will host another literary dinner on Thursday, 19 August with award-winning author Neal Drinnan, promoting his new book Devil’s Grip.

The Gloves Are Off by Maggie Kirkpatrick is published by New Holland. The hardcover book, which features two extensive photo sections, is available at The Bookshop Darlinghurst (207 Oxford St, Darlinghurst) or online at for $32.99. A limited number of signed copies were still available at time of writing. 

For information about available titles and upcoming events at The Bookshop, visit or phone (02) 9331 1103. 

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