Drusilla Modjeska was born in England and lived in Papua New Guinea before arriving in Australia in 1971. She studied at the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales completing a PhD which was published as Exiles at Home: Australian Women Writers 1925-1945 (1981).
Modjeska's writing often explores the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction. The best known of her work are Poppy (1990), a fictionalised biography of her mother, and Stravinsky's Lunch (2001), a feminist reappraisal of the lives and work of Australian painters Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. She has also edited several volumes of stories, poems and essays, including the work of Lesbia Harford and a 'Focus on Papua New Guinea' issue for the literary magazine Meanjin.
In 2006 she was a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, "investigating the interplay of race, gender and the arts in post-colonial Papua New Guinea".