Richard Flanagan Biography
Descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed
Tasmania) during the Great Famine, Richard Flanagan was born in his native
island in 1961, the fifth of six children. He spent his childhood in the mining
town of Rosebery and left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later
attended the University of Tasmania, graduating with first class honours in
1982. The following year he was awarded a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford
University. He later worked as a laborer and river guide.
He wrote four history books before turning to fiction. His first novel, the much
celebrated Death of a River Guide (1994), tells the tale of Aljaz Cosini,
a guide on the Franklin River who lies drowning as he relives his life and the
lives of his forbears. It won
major Australian literary prizes including the 1996 National Fiction Award and
was described by the Times Literary Supplement as 'one of the most
auspicious debuts in Australian writing.'
His second novel, The Sound of One
Hand Clapping (1997), set in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, tells the
story of Slovenian immigrants. It was similarly critically
acclaimed and has sold over 150,000 copies in Australia, an unprecedented figure
there for a literary novel. It won the Australian Booksellers Book of the Year
Award and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Flanagan's first two novels,
declared Kirkus Reviews, 'rank with the finest fiction out of Australia
since the heyday of Patrick White.'
His third novel, Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish (2001),
is set at the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station and is based on the life of Billy
Gould, a convict artist who has a love affair with a young black woman in 1828.
It won Best Book for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize in the South East
Asia & South Pacific Region.
In addition to Australia and the USA, his novels
have been, or will be, published in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Germany,
Holland, and France. He directed an acclaimed feature film based on The Sound
of One Hand Clapping, which had its world premiere in competition at the
1998 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear for best
His recent books include The Unknown Terrorist, (2007), set in contemporary
Sydney, and Wanting (2008), set in both nineteenth century Tasmania and Britain.
Richard Flanagan lives in Tasmania with his wife and three children. He is
a keen canoeist, having canoed the Franklin River thirteen times, and was a
member of the first expedition to canoe the Jane River and Gordon Gorge (one of
his nonfiction works is A Terrible Beauty - History of the Gordon (1985).
This biography was last updated on 07/09/2011.
A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2000 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that
some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date,
inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors:
If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we replace the old with the new, including your website URL if relevant.