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Hotel Ghosts: Chris Womersley at the Espy


Immerse yourself in the gritty, bohemian underworld of Melbourne artistic and cultural history at this interactive literary event – featuring novelist Chris Womersley and owner of the iconic Esplanade Hotel Matt Mullins.


Immerse yourself in the bohemian underworld of Melbourne’s artistic and cultural past, and share a drink with some colourful ghosts with impeccable taste.

As part of Open House Melbourne Weekend, spend Sunday afternoon in the Ghost of Alfred Felton Bar at the Hotel Esplanade as author Chris Womersley discusses his latest novel, The Diplomat (the sequel to his beloved Cairo) with host Brian Nankervis. The Diplomat follows Edward Degraves – fresh from detox and five years after his involvement with the theft of Picasso’s The Weeping Woman from the NGV – returning to Melbourne where he is forced to confront his ghosts at a seedy St Kilda hotel. It’s a powerful story of grief, art and recovery.

Following this discussion, owner of The Espy Matt Mullins will lead an interactive tour of the bar’s three rooms – the Library, the Pharmacy and the Gallery – and its namesake Alfred Felton’s life. Felton was the game-changing benefactor of the NGV whose bequest transformed the gallery’s collection, and a long-time inhabitant of The Espy in its former incarnation as a residential hotel.

Throughout the event the bar will serve Felton-inspired cocktails.

Join us for this interactive celebration of literature, art and Melbourne’s rich and eclectic cultural history.

Presented in partnership with Open House Melbourne.

Supported by the Hotel Esplanade


Tickets: $15 or $30 with cocktail on arrival, plus a one-off $4.40 booking fee

Book now

About the book

The bookseller for this event is Readings.


Chris Womersley

Chris Womersley is the bestselling author of the novels The Low Road, Bereft, Cairo, The Diplomat and City of Crows, and the short story collection A Lovely and Terrible Thing. He has been published in the UK, US and Europe, has received the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, an Indie Awar... Read more

Matt Mullins

Twenty-two years ago, in their mid-twenties, Matt and his partners bought and renovated their first pub. Twelve pubs later, the Sand Hill Road group own and operate some of Melbourne’s best-loved boozers, including the Espy, the Garden State Hotel, Richmond Club, Prahran, Bridge and Terminus Hotel... Read more

Brian Nankervis

Poet, performer and broadcaster Brian Nankervis is co-host of The Friday Revue on ABC Radio Melbourne and RocKwiz on SBS television. He is also the creator of the much-loved tortured street-poet character Raymond J Bartholomeuz.


The Ghost of Alfred Felton at Hotel Esplanade

11 The Esplanade, St Kilda 3182

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Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respect to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.