Peter Carey Biography
Peter Carey was born in 1943, in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia.
His parents, who had a General Motors dealership, sent him to Geelong Grammar
School, one of the leading private schools, "where the children of Australia's
Best Families all spoke with English accents". He studied briefly at Monash
University, but left after failing his first year science exams, after which he
left to work as a copyrighter in advertisign agencies in Melbourne and London.
He started to read passionately, especially the work of Joyce, Beckett, Kafka
and Faulkner, and in 1964 he began to write. He moved to Sydney in 1974
where he continued copyrighting. His first collection of surreal short
stories, War Crimes, was published in 1979, followed by The Fat Man in
History in 1980.
He then wrote three novels, Bliss (1981), about an advertising executive
who has an out-of-body experience; Illywhacker (1985), a huge vision of
Australian history told through the memoirs of a 100-year old confidence man or
"illywhacker"; and Oscar and Lucinda (1988), a complex symbolic tale of
the arrival of Christianity in Australia.
In 1990/1991 he moved to New York, with his wife, Alison Summers, a theater
director, and his son, to teach creative writing at University of New York.
The Tax Inspector was published in 1991, then came The Unusual Life of
Tristran Smith (1994); Jack Maggs (1997), True History of the
Kelly Gang (2001), My Life as a Fake (2003) and Theft (2006).
He has also written the film script for Until the End of the World
(1992), and co-wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Bliss
(1985). Oscar and Lucinda was also adapted for film in 1997, with a
screenplay written by Laura Jones.
In addition to his adult fiction, he has written a number of other books
including The Big Bazoohley (for children, 1995) and 30 Days in
Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account (non-fiction, 2001) and Wrong about
Japan (2005), a memoir/travelogue of his journey through Japan with his son
Charley and their attempts to understand the Japanese culture and heritage.
He still lives in New York, and still teaches Creative Writing at New York
University. He has been awarded three honorary degrees and is a Fellow of the
Royal Society of Literature, the Australian Academy of Humanities and the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Prizes & Awards (partial list)
- 1979 Miles Franklin Award (Australia) War Crimes
- 1980 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award War Crimes
- 1981 Miles Franklin Award (Australia) Bliss
- 1982 National Book Council Award (Australia) Bliss
- 1982 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award Bliss
- 1985 Book Council Award (Australia) Illywhacker
- 1985 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist)
- 1985 The Age Book of the Year Award Illywhacker
- 1986 Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel
- 1986 Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction Illywhacker
- 1986 Victorian Premier's Literary Award (Australia) Illywhacker
- 1986 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (shortlist) Illywhacker
- 1988 Book Council Award (Australia) Oscar and Lucinda
- 1988 Booker Prize for Fiction Oscar and Lucinda
1989 Miles Franklin Award (Australia) Oscar and Lucinda
- 1994 The Age Book of the Year Award The Unusual Life of Tristran
- 1997 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) (shortlist)
- 1997 The Age Book of the Year Award Jack Maggs
- 1998 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) Jack
- 1998 Miles Franklin Award (Australia) Jack Maggs
- 2001 Booker Prize for Fiction True History of the Kelly Gang
- 2001 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) True
History of the Kelly Gang
- 2001 Miles Franklin Award (Australia) (shortlist) True History
of the Kelly Gang
- 2001 Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction True History of the Kelly
War Crimes (1979)
The Fat Man in History (1980)
Oscar and Lucinda (1988)
The Tax Inspector (1991)
The Unusual Life of Tristran Smith (1994)
Collected Stories (1995)
The Big Bazoohley (1995)
Jack Maggs (1997)
30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account (2001)
True History of the Kelly Gang (2001)
My Life as a Fake (2003)
Wrong about Japan (2005)
Theft: A Love Story (2006)
His Illegal Self (2008)
Parrot and Olivier in America (2009)
The Chemistry of Tears (2012)
This biography was last updated on 05/08/2012.
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.