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Event Details

Greek to me: Adventures of the comma queen, Mary Norris

9 May 2019
6.00pm – 7.00pm
Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW
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Photo of Mary Norris

Tales of pencils, punctuation and proofreading The New Yorker.

In the age of fake news and alternative facts, proofreading has become a form of protest. Fortunately, New Yorker copy editor and self-professed comma queen, Mary Norris has spent an inordinate amount time in the company of words. Norris’ New York Times bestseller, Between You & Me, divulges curious tales of perfect punctuation and pencil preferences (formerly: Dixon Ticonderoga No. 1, presently: Palomino Blackwing) during her 40 years in The New Yorker’s celebrated copy department.

Too often proofreaders are mislabelled – persnickety, pedantic, pompous – but Mary Norris hopes that eventually, “writers will see that we are not the enemy”. Perhaps the only thing she is guilty of is loving language more than most.

Join Mary Norris at the State Library of NSW for a conversation on her time at The New Yorker and her new book, Greek to Me.




General Admission | $10
General Admission | UNSW Student | Free (show student card upon arrival)




Wheelchair accessibility

If you require assistance navigating around the library, staff at the Information Desk in the Macquarie Street foyer are happy to help and have a courtesy wheelchair available. 

Assisted Listening Available


To discuss your access requirements and to book any access services, please call the UNSW Centre for Ideas on 02 9385 0000 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9385 0000 Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9385 0000. Internet relay users, visit, then ask for 02 9385 0000. 

Companion Card

The Centre for Ideas supports the Companion Card program. For patrons who require assistance of a companion or carer, a second ticket is issued at no cost to the Companion Card holder. Please contact Centre for Ideas on 02 9385 0000 or email


The Centre for Ideas can provide Auslan interpreting services for selected talks upon request. Please contact the Centre for Ideas on 02 9385 0000 or email

Photo of Mary Norris

Mary Norris

Mary Norris is the author of Greek to Me and New York Times bestseller Between You & Me, an account of her years in The New Yorker copy department. Originally from Cleveland, she lives in New York. Her favourite pencil used to be the Dixon Ticonderoga No. 1, but she now makes do with the Palomino Blackwing.

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