Brockdorff, née Mahoney, was born in 1930, in Senglea. She studied Theology at the University of Malta and continued to read Theology and Human Studies for her M.A. She worked in broadcasting and was also a primary school teacher. After taking a career break to raise her four children, Brockdorff returned to teaching English and Media Studies at secondary level. Today, she works and writes a lot on spirituality, giving several talks throughout the year.
Brockdorff’s writing revolves around community, evolving relationships and the effects of action and reaction – the consequences of actions – on her characters. The short story is one of her preferred modes of expression; she has impressively penned over 440 short stories. She is strongly inspired by the gospel stories, which the reader can appreciate in many episodes as well as poems. Brockdorff’s autobiography Sireni u Serenati (2004) describes her childhood, focusing especially on the war period. It was for this work that she was awarded the first prize by the National Book Council. In 2019 the book was translated into English by Alfred Palma as Serenades among the Sirens. Brockdorff holds three works especially close to her heart: Tini jdejk (Give Me Your Hand, 1975), Ħaristlu f’għajnejh (I Looked into His Eyes, 1998) and Luciano (2019). The poem "Tini jdejk" speaks of the contrasting desire to be seen and yet also remain unseen. The event takes place in a church where our protagonist remains solitary, even as a group of singers continue their songs of praise and love. She converses with Jesus on the cross and reflects on feelings of unworthiness and vulnerability, of what it means to be in the presence of the sacred and divine, and ultimately on acceptance. "Ħaristlu f’għajnejh" is a very intense and personal short story, revolving around and inspired by two Biblical episodes. It describes Jesus as a young boy playing with a neighbour’s grandson. Roman soldiers gallop through their street splashing them with mud, and the boy wipes Jesus’ face. Later on in life this same boy is asked by a Roman soldier to help Jesus carry the cross; their eyes meet and they instantly recognise each other. Brockdorff’s works are all based locally; Luciano is no exception. Here we follow an intriguing sequence of events, occurring before and during World War I, triggered by the death of a mother and the birth of her son. This event unites two families forever, changing the course of their lives.
Brockdorff continues to be inspired by life, people and places. Olivia u stejjer oħra (Olivia and Other Stories), published in 2022, comprises thirty-five new short stories. Her reactions to and notes on being a spectator, being the fly on the wall to so many stories and experiences, only enhance the need for the reader to stop, empathize with the characters and recognise what it means to be in the spaces in between, to be something and perhaps even to be nothing at all.
Biography written by Ruth Bezzina
Arts Council Malta
Creative Industries Platform
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul