ACT News

Canberra author Mark Juddery dies of cancer, aged 43

Mark Juddery tackled cancer in much the same way he approached his life and craft: with biting wit, searing intelligence and a ready sense of humour. 

The Canberra-based author, screenwriter and journalist died, aged 43, at Calvary Hospital on Tuesday.

Canberra author Mark Juddery, who wrote the book Why These Are The Best. Times. Ever. He was diagnosed with cancer after ...
Canberra author Mark Juddery, who wrote the book Why These Are The Best. Times. Ever. He was diagnosed with cancer after he wrote the book. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

It was almost a year to day since he was diagnosed with cancer, which spread to his lymph nodes, liver and lungs. 

His family, and Australia's literary community, chose to look past the disease yesterday and remembered Juddery's talent, "geeky" passion for pop culture and movies, and his unwavering positivity.

Juddery wrote a popular column for The Canberra Times between 2007 and 2013, and his acerbic pieces also appeared in the pages of newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

He penned plays and screenplays and wrote widely on travel, film and pop culture for publications including GQThe BulletinThe Huffington Post and


He also authored several books, including 1975 - Australia's Greatest Year, and Busted! The 50 Most Overrated Things in History

Juddery's cancer diagnosis coincided with the release of his positively reviewed book, Best. Times. Ever., in March last year.

He wrote about his battle  in The Canberra Times that same month and said: "Not only doesn't my cancer make sense, but it isn't even fair."

Positive thinking was "one of my weapons", he wrote. 

"So I plan to survive. After two days of terror, it stopped being scary. Well OK, it's still scary, but not in a bleak, Wolf Creek kind of way.

"It's scary like an episode of Doctor Who. You know that justice will prevail and the hero will somehow survive. Like many projects in life, I take this one on, fully aware that I will succeed. Then I figure out how."

Freelance travel writer Daniel Scott, said his friend "just wanted to do it his way".

"He wanted to fight cancer in his own, inimitable way.

"He was a total individual. He was very funny, very dry. If anyone was going to do it his way, it was Mark Juddery."

Juddery initially underwent chemotherapy but soon switched to alternative medicine in a bid to rid his body of the disease. 

A disciple of spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy for the past 25 years, he was committed to meditation. 

Juddery's sister Dalisay Krege said her brother was a "major geek" who adored Doctor Who, comic books and sci-fi.  

She remembered her friends had been intimidated by Juddery's clever wit, and admitted she was at times too. 

"I have no qualms in saying he was a very intelligent man.

"If he had a point to make, you would not get him to back down. He was a very passionate person. He was also a very caring and thoughtful person.

"My 10-year-old son said he was sad this morning because he looked up to Mark so much."

Mr Scott last spoke with his friend on Christmas Eve and said the disease had not sapped him of his positivity.

"Considering he was very fragile, he was still very optimistic and talking about life, not talking about death, at all. 

"He spoke of illness as something that would pass and he'd be back travelling again."

Mr Scott said Juddery was "a trifle eccentric" and "unassuming" despite his professional success. 

"We need people like Mark in the world to offer a different view on the world.

"I reckon if he's found his tribe out there already, it'd be the Charlie Hebdo lot. If anyone shared a similar view of people puffed-up with power, it was him.

"We are all thinking of his mother and sister."

Freelance writer Christine Salins met Juddery through the Australian Society of Travel Writers and was saddened to hear "someone so talented was taken just way too soon".

"He was a brilliant writer, he had a very quick, dry wit and he was highly creative.

"He loved writing and he was very talented."

Ms Salins said society members across the country said they hoped to pay tribute to him through an award or scholarship.

"A lot of people had been in touch with him as recently as last week. 

"He was just so positive and determined.

"Through all that time he really remained upbeat and that's why it's come as such a shock to everyone."

Juddery last wrote again of his cancer battle in a column published in The Canberra Times in August.

"I have cancer, and so far it's given me only pain, exhaustion and huge medical bills.

"In fairness, it has also encouraged many people to buy me lunch, which almost makes up for having a life-threatening disease."

Juddery grew up in Canberra and went to Narrabundah College. 

He later worked at the National Film and Sound Archives and the National Museum. 

His father Bruce Juddery, an author and journalist, worked at The Canberra Times and the Australian National University before his death in 2003. 

A funeral is expected to be held early next week.