Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.
He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arrived.
In 1961 he studied science for a single unsuccessful year at Monash University. He was then employed by an advertising agency where he began to receive his literary education, meeting Faulkner, Joyce, Kerouac and other writers he had previously been unaware of. He was nineteen.
For the next thirteen years he wrote fiction at night and weekends, working in many advertising agencies in Melbourne, London and Sydney.
After four novels had been written and rejected The Fat Man in History — a short story collection — was published in 1974. This slim book made him an overnight success.
From 1976 Carey worked one week a month for Grey Advertising, then, in 1981 he established a small business where his generous partner required him to work only two afternoons a week. Thus between 1976 and 1990, he was able to pursue literature obsessively. It was during this period that he wrote War Crimes, Bliss, Illywhacker, Oscar and Lucinda. Illywhacker was short listed for the Booker Prize. Oscar and Lucinda won it. Uncomfortable with this success he began work on The Tax Inspector.
In 1990 he moved to New York where he completed The Tax Inspector. He taught at NYU one night a week. Later he would have similar jobs at Princeton, The New School and Barnard College. During these years he wrote The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, Jack Maggs, and True History of the Kelly Gang for which he won his second Booker Prize.
In 2003 he joined Hunter College as the Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing. In the years since he has written My Life as a Fake, Theft, and His Illegal Self.
He is at work on a new novel.
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 Australian Film Institute (Best Adapted Screenplay) Bliss
1985 Australian Film Institute (Best Film) Bliss
1985 Book Council Award (Australia) Illywhacker
1985 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) Illywhacker
1985 The Age Book of the Year Award Illywhacker
1986 Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel Illywhacker
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 Smith
1997 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) (shortlist) Jack Maggs
1997 The Age Book of the Year Award Jack Maggs
1998 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) Jack Maggs
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 Gang
2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific
Region, Best Book) (shortlist) Theft: A Love Story
Click here to read a Paris Review interview with Peter Carey.