Theodore Ell

Theodore Ell was born in Sydney in 1984. He studied literature and modern languages at the University of Sydney, spent time in Bologna and Florence for research, and was awarded a PhD in 2010. For several years he worked freelance as an editor, translator and researcher. During this time, he co-founded the international journal Contrappasso Magazine, of which he was co-editor for four years. In 2013, he edited the anthology Long Glances for Manning Clark House. His book A Voice in the Fire (2015) brought to light unknown Italian anti-fascist writing. He moved to Canberra in 2015 to begin working in the public service.
In 2018, Theodore accompanied his wife on a diplomatic posting to Lebanon. While living in Beirut they survived the port explosion of August 2020, which destroyed their home. Theodore’s memoir about that event won the Calibre Essay Prize in 2021. Theodore and his wife returned to Australia that year and settled in Canberra once again.
Theodore’s poetry has appeared in PN Review, Australian Book Review, The Australian, The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and several anthologies. His essays, translations and historical research have been published in Australia, Italy and the UK. He is an honorary lecturer in literature at the Australian National University.

Author's books

Beginning in Sight


Beginning in Sight is Theodore Ell’s first poetry collection. It brings together work written over more than ten years, tapping into the memories, life-stories and mirror-images that resist time and recouple bygone experience to the drifting world of today. The poems branch out from Ell’s original home of Sydney into its hinterland, the coast and the Hunter, snatching moments of respite and pleasure in troubled times, before finding new bearings in the Canberra region. Haunted by the presence of vanished lives and histories, these are poems of perseverance, endurance and a past that seems to know what is coming.

Winner 2022 Anne Elder Award