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Elise Hurst

Author, Illustrator

Elise Hurst is a writer and illustrator who is enthralled by the places that imagination can take you. Starting out as a traditional artist she soon discovered a passion for narrative and her work uses both visual and written languages to convey meaning. In her sessions Elise loves to equip people with the tools to draw their wildest ideas.

Where were you born?

I was born in Melbourne, Australia and grew up living in the same house for my whole childhood. It had a big garden with visiting cockatoos that would hang upside down and pull leaves off the trees just to be cheeky. At night the moonlight transformed it into a magical place.

What other jobs have you had?

For quite a while I worked at the Arts Centre in the city. It was great – like turning up for a surprise banquet each week. Sometimes I would see a play, or an opera, ballet or contemporary dance. It was full of artists and musicians working there and getting a bit of inspiration at the same time.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I have always been waiting for a magical adventure and I haven’t given up! But I never found the door to Narnia nor a magic carpet, so the magic in my stories has to be in the everyday world where anyone could find it. You will find a lot of night time adventures in my books, at that hour where we truly believe that everything is possible.

What have been the highlights of your career?

The Night Garden was a book that really captured imaginations and it has been wonderful that so many children love it. Being short listed by the CBCA saw it travel all over Australia, being performed as a play and at the Melbourne Recital Centre. My latest two books (Imagine a City and Adelaide’s Secret World) are a whole new stage for me where I am really unleashing my imagination on the world and doing what I love best.

Where have your works been published?

As of 2016-2017 my books can be found in Australia, USA, China, and Canada. My prints and cards have travelled around the globe.

What are you passionate about?

I think we need to create the world we want to live in. That means using our imaginations all of the time to make sure that big ideas have their chance. Your imagination is a tool that will help you in all areas of life – to see a situation differently, to try a new angle, to make someone laugh, to help someone understand, to colour the lives around you and make connections that we never knew were there. Being a little silly is also very important.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I have participated in a lot of arts markets over the years and had thousands of conversations with people who love stories and drawings. We might well have met!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Not every picture needs a story and I love to create single images that evoke a big narrative. I sell these in exhibitions and as prints and cards. To see any of this work or to order books from me please visit


The students were so engaged in both sessions. Elise spoke so well – her manner with students was outstanding! She differentiated both sessions depending on the year level of the students. Her content was very appropriate to our students. We would highly recommend her for other schools.

Overall, we were all very impressed with this author/illustrator visitor. The students got so much out of the experience.

—Krystal Ryan, Caulfield Primary School, 2019

Elise was a fantastic speaker at our Children’s Book Week creative workshops. The school groups that we invited absolutely loved the sessions! Our local schools really appreciated how thoughtful and engaging Elise was, and all the children wrote a thank-you card to Elise and the library for hosting a fun and “awesome” morning.

—E. White, Yarra Libraries, August 2016

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