Famous 20th Century Australian Writers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Australian

 1 Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 29, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia

Australian author and feminist Germaine Greer made headlines with her first book, The Female Eunuch, which focused on female sexuality. Greer’s career boasts of a PhD in literature, and she has also taught at the University of Warwick and other institutes. She was later named an Australian National Living Treasure.

 2 Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 3, 1976
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Muscat, Oman

Australian actress Isla Fisher attained widespread fame in 2005 when she starred in the commercially successful Hollywood film Wedding Crashers. Some of her other notable films are The Great Gatsby, Now You See Me, I Heart Huckabees, Bachelorette, Rango and Rise of the Guardians. She has also acted in television series and is an author of children’s books.

 3 J. M. Coetzee

J. M. Coetzee
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 9, 1940
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa

Nobel Prize- and two-time Booker Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee had started his career as a Fulbright scholar. After teaching English in the U.S. and South Africa, he now lives and teaches in Australia. He is best known for his colonial settings in novels such as Waiting for the Barbarians.

Recommended Lists:

 4 P. L. Travers

P. L. Travers
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 9, 1899
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Maryborough, Australia
Died: April 23, 1996

Australian-British author and Shakespearean actor Pamela Lyndon Travers, known by her pseudonym, P. L. Travers, soared to fame with her Mary Poppins series of children's books. Disney later bought the rights to her Mary Poppins series and released a film version. It was later made into a Broadway play, too.

 5 Jim Jefferies

Jim Jefferies
4
Famous As: Stand-up comedian
Birthdate: February 14, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Jim Jefferies is an Australian-American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer best known as the creator of the FX sitcom Legit and the Comedy Central late-night show The Jim Jefferies Show. He trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts before beginning his career. Besides his TV shows, he has also appeared in films and performed at festivals. 

 6 Saroo Brierley

Saroo Brierley
4
Famous As: Businessman, Author
Birthdate: May 22, 1981
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India

Indian-born Australian entrepreneur and author Saroo Brierley was separated from his mother at 5, when he accidentally boarded a train to Howrah station from Burhanpur. He ended up being adopted by an Australian couple. He later found his mother via Google Earth. His autobiography was adapted into the film Lion.

 7 Andrew Upton

Andrew Upton
4
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Librettist
Birthdate: February 1, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Australia

Andrew Upton is an Australian playwright, screenwriter, and director known for creating an adaptation of Maxim Gorky's The Philistines for the Royal National Theatre in London. He has also written critically-acclaimed original plays. He is married to actress Cate Blanchett, with whom he runs a film production company. Upton was honored with the Rotary Professional Excellence Award in 2014. 

You May Like

 8 Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 15, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Liane Moriarty is an Australian author best known for writing the New York Times bestseller Big Little Lies. The book was later adapted into a TV series for HBO. Prior to becoming a famous author, she worked at a legal publishing company. She has also worked as a freelance advertising copywriter.  Her siblings Jaclyn and Nicola are also authors. 

 9 Clive James

Clive James
4
Famous As: Writer, Broadcaster, Literary critic
Birthdate: October 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kogarah

Clive James was an Australian critic, journalist, and writer who worked mainly in the United Kingdom. He had a difficult life as a young man and faced many challenges on his way to building a successful career. He began his career as a TV critic and proceeded to establish himself as a writer and poet as well. 

 10 James Clavell

James Clavell
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 10, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died: September 7, 1994

After a motorcycle injury cut his military career short, James Clavell began writing screenplays for films such as The Fly. The Australian author and World War II veteran later penned iconic Asian Saga novels such as King Rat and Shōgun, which have been made into hit films and series.

 11 Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin
4
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: October 7, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Northampton, England, United Kingdom

Tim Minchin is an Australian musician, comedian, writer, actor, and songwriter. He is best known for combining music and comedy in his shows, which have been received well by the audience. Tim Minchin is also known for writing lyrics and composing the critically acclaimed show, Matilda the Musical, which won several awards including Tony Award and an Olivier Award.

 12 Leigh Whannell

Leigh Whannell
4
Famous As: Actor, Screenwriter, Writer, Director
Birthdate: January 17, 1977
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Melbourne

Leigh Whannell is an Australian screenwriter, actor, producer, and director. He often collaborates with his friend James Wan, and the two have worked together on the movies Saw, Dead Silence, and Insidious. He also wrote the Saw video game. He worked as a reporter and film critic for TV shows before entering the film industry. 

 13 Mark Brandon Read

Mark Brandon Read
4
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: November 17, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died: October 9, 2013

A convicted criminal and author, Mark Brandon Read began his criminal career by robbing drug dealers at a very early age, eventually graduating to kidnapping and torturing of other criminals for money, as well as armed robbery. Being incarcerated for long periods, he later turned to writing, publishing fifteen books between 1991 and 2011

 14 Benedict Samuel

Benedict Samuel
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 15, 1988
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

A graduate of the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art, Australian actor-writer-director, Benedict Samuel, has made his mark both on screen and stage. Beginning his career with television series, he debuted on stage with Tis Pity She's A Whore and starred in feature films like Asthma. Playing Mad Hatter in Fox crime series Gotham is the hallmark of his career.

 15 Hamish Blake

Hamish Blake
3
Famous As: Writer, Actor
Birthdate: December 11, 1981
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melbourne

Part of the comedy duo Hamish and Andy, Hamish Blake has entertained audiences on various TV and radio shows, such as the Logie Award-winning Hamish and Andy's Gap Year. Not known to many, Hamish had dropped out of a double university degree in science and commerce, to step into comedy.

 16 Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton
4
Birthdate: March 4, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Whakatane

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton is a New Zealand-born woman who was wrongfully accused of killing her nine-week-old daughter, Azaria. The child went missing when her family was on a camping trip, and Lindy was accused of killing the child after Azaria’s bloody clothes were found. She was later officially pardoned by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. 

 17 Ben Elton

Ben Elton
4
Famous As: Actor, Comedian
Birthdate: May 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fitzrovia, London, England

Ben Elton is a British comedian, TV writer, author, actor, playwright, producer, and director. He was a key figure in London’s alternative comedy movement in the 1980s. He gained international prominence as a writer on the sitcoms The Young Ones and Blackadder. He is also the author of many novels and the director of numerous plays and TV shows. 

 18 John Pilger

John Pilger
3
Famous As: War correspondent, Writer, Director, Journalist
Birthdate: October 9, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sydney

Multiple BAFTA award-winning Australian journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger had begun his career working for media houses such as Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror. He is vocal about social issues, such as the treatment of the indigenous community in Australia and the US and UK foreign policies.

 19 Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga
3
Famous As: His debut novel The White Tiger, won the 2008 Man Booker Prize
Birthdate: October 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Best known for his Man Booker Prize-winning debut novel The White Tiger, Indian author Aravind Adiga was born in Chennai but later moved to Sydney. Educated at Columbia University and Oxford, he has also worked for Financial Times and as a South Asia correspondent for Time.

 20 Brendan Cowell

Brendan Cowell
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 16, 1976
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cronulla

Brendan Cowell was 8 when, while waiting for his sister outside her dance rehearsal venue, he was spotted and cast in a commercial. After acting for a while, he found success as a playwright with award-winning plays such as Bed. He was also seen as Harrag in Game of Thrones.

 21 Susan Powter

Susan Powter
3
Famous As: Writer, Presenter, Motivational speaker, Television actor
Birthdate: December 22, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sydney

Susan Powter moved from Australia to the U.S. with her parents at 10. While coping with her first divorce, she had gained weight, which eventually motivated her to become a fitness enthusiast. Now a prominent nutritionist, fitness blogger, and talk-show host, she is known for her catchphrase "Stop the Insanity!"

 22 Burnum Burnum

Burnum Burnum
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: January 10, 1936
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wallaga Lake National Park Wallaga Lake, New South Wales
Died: August 18, 1997

Australian Aboriginal activist Burnum Burnum was separated from his family as an infant and grew up in a mission home. The Churchill Scholarship winner was a law graduate and also excelled in rugby. He is best remembered for erecting the aboriginal flag in Dover during the Australian bicentenary celebrations.

 23 Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly
3
Famous As: Writer, Poet lawyer
Birthdate: July 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sydney

Matthew Reilly is an Australian writer who specializes in the action thriller genre. He enjoyed writing from a young age and started his literary career by self-publishing his debut novel. After a few years of struggle, he caught the notice of reputed publishers and has since built a successful writing career. He hopes to direct a movie in the future. 

 24 Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough
4
Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Neurologist, Biographer, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: June 1, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wellington
Died: January 29, 2015

Australian author Colleen McCullough soared to fame with her bestselling novel The Thorn Birds, which was also made into a hit miniseries. Fans also lover her Masters of Rome and Carmine Delmonico series of novels. A former neuropsychologist, she has previously taught at the Yale School of Medicine.

 25 Silvia Colloca

Silvia Colloca
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 23, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Milan, Italy

Silvia Colloca is an Italian-Australian actress, cookbook author, opera singer, and TV cookery show personality.  An opera-trained mezzo-soprano, she worked in musical theater before becoming an actress. She later created her own TV cookery shows that earned her much international prominence. She also runs a successful YouTube channel in collaboration with Marion Grasby.  

 26 Robyn Davidson

Robyn Davidson
3
Famous As: Explorer, Writer
Birthdate: September 6, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Miles

Robyn Davidson is an Australian writer best known for her book Tracks, in which she wrote about her 2,700 km (1,700 miles) trek across the deserts of Western Australia using camels. As a teenager, she lived a bohemian life and has since traveled across the world. Her book Tracks won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in 1980. 

 27 Rhonda Byrne

Rhonda Byrne
3
Famous As: Screenwriter
Birthdate: March 12, 1951
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Melbourne

Rhonda Byrne, noted Australian television writer-producer, was introduced to the New Thought Movement when she read The Science of Getting Rich. It resulted in the production of a pseudoscientific documentary film called The Secret, which was followed in the same year by a bestselling eponymous book. Today she has six titles her credit, which together forms The Secret Book Series.

 28 Shannon Bennett

Shannon Bennett
3
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: November 23, 1975
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Victoria

Shannon Bennett is an Australian chef and author. He is the head chef of restaurant Vue de monde at Melbourne's Rialto Tower and also owns and operates several other hospitality venues in Melbourne. On several occasions, he has appeared as a guest judge on the popular cooking show MasterChef Australia. He is the author of several books as well. 

 29 Peter FitzSimons

Peter FitzSimons
3
Famous As: Rugby union player, Biographer
Birthdate: June 29, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wahroonga

Bestselling Australian author Peter FitzSimons has had an illustrious career as a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald for over three decades. Apart from penning biographies, he has written books such as Burke and Wills. He has also played national-level rugby for the Wallabies.

 30 Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 17, 1867
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Grenfell
Died: September 2, 1922

Henry Lawson was an Australian bush poet and writer. Often referred to as Australia's greatest short story writer, Lawson is one of the best-known Australian fiction writers and poets of the colonial period. Also a nationalist, Henry Lawson contributed immensely to a popular Australian magazine named The Bulletin. In 1949, he was featured in an Australian postage stamp.

 31 Timothy Conigrave

Timothy Conigrave
3
Famous As: actor,writer
Birthdate: November 19, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Melbourne
Died: October 18, 1994

Australian actor Timothy Conigrave began his career performing on stage and later wrote plays such as The Blitz Kids. He is remembered for his United Nations Award for Non-Fiction award-winning memoir, Holding the Man, which documented his 15-year love affair with John Caleo. Conigrave later died of AIDS.

 32 Gregory David Roberts

Gregory David Roberts
3
Famous As: writer, novelist
Birthdate: June 21, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Melbourne

Gregory David Roberts is an Australian author. A former heroin addict and bank robber, he was incarcerated in Pentridge Prison, from where he escaped and fled to India. He was later captured again and imprisoned. During this time, he began writing his novel Shantaram, which went on to become a huge success. He has also released an album. 

 33 Patrick White

Patrick White
3
Famous As: Australian Writer
Birthdate: May 28, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Knightsbridge, London, England
Died: September 30, 1990

Patrick White was an Australian writer whose fictional works incorporated stream of consciousness techniques, shifting narrative vantage points, florid prose, and humor. In 1973, he became the first Australian to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Over the course of his illustrious career, White published 12 novels, eight plays, and three short-story collections.

 34 Ken Ham

Ken Ham
3
Famous As: Evangelist, Creationism
Birthdate: October 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cairns Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Ken Ham is an Australian Christian fundamentalist, apologist, and young-Earth creationist. He is the founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), a Christian apologetics organization. Ham advocates accepting the Book of Genesis creation narrative as a historical fact and has been criticized for his unscientific views. He views homosexuality as a sin and is against same-sex marriage. 

 35 Michael Halliday

Michael Halliday
3
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: April 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Died: April 15, 2018

British linguist Michael Halliday is best remembered for his neo-Firthian theory of language. Born to a dialectologist father and an English teacher mother, Halliday naturally developed a love for languages. An expert in Chinese language, he has conducted research on child language development and the theory of grammar.

 36 Thomas Keneally

Thomas Keneally
3
Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Novelist, Actor, Author
Birthdate: October 7, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sydney

Initially a Catholic deacon, Thomas Keneally quit the Church later and stepped into writing. Best known for his historical novels such as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Gossip from the Forest, he also won a Booker Prize for Schindler's Ark, which was inspired by the Holocaust.

 37 Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes
3
Famous As: Art Critic, Writer
Birthdate: July 28, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Died: August 6, 2012

Although he had initially aspired to study law and architecture, Robert Hughes later dropped out of university and began drawing cartoons for various newspapers. After establishing himself as an art critic, he wrote bestsellers such as The Fatal Shore and created shows such as The Shock of the New.

 38 Garth Nix

Garth Nix
3
Famous As: Writer, Children's writer, Author, Novelist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: July 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Melbourne

After leaving home at an early age, Australian author Garth Nix had moved around Europe in an old Austin. He later worked in a book shop and became an editor, before becoming a full-time fantasy novelist. He is best known for his novel series such as The Seventh Tower.

 39 Clementine Ford

Clementine Ford
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Freelance author, journalist, and broadcaster Clementine Ford is known for her columns in the Sunday Mail and Drum. She generally writes about feminist issues and pop culture. Interestingly, she was once banned from Facebook for using abusive language and also courted controversy for a tweet that stated "All men must die."

 40 John Flanagan

John Flanagan
3
Famous As: writer, novelist, screenwriter
Birthdate: May 22, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sydney

After working in an ad agency for two decades, John Flanagan began writing stories to motivate his son to read and eventually ended up writing what later came to be known as the bestselling book series Ranger’s Apprentice. He has also penned the Brotherband Chronicles series and other books.

 41 Karl Kruszelnicki

Karl Kruszelnicki
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 20, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Helsingborg, Sweden

Swedish-born Australian Karl Kruszelnicki, better known as Dr. Karl, was born to Holocaust survivors. The internationally renowned science commentator is a well-known radio and TV personality, who has won the Ig Nobel Prize and has been named a Living Treasure. He has also penned scores of books.

 42 Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 11, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sydney

Australian-British writer Kathy Lette initially gained fame with the book Puberty Blues, which was made into a movie and a series. She then became a sitcom writer. Known for her bestsellers such as The Boy Who Fell to Earth and How to Kill Your Husband, Kathy is a true-blue feminist.

 43 Austin Stevens

Austin Stevens
3
Famous As: Photographer, Writer
Birthdate: May 19, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pretoria

Austin Stevens is a South African-born Australian herpetologist, television personality, naturalist, wildlife photographer, author, and documentarian. Stevens is renowned for hosting the popular TV series Austin Stevens: Snakemaster on Animal Planet from 2004 to 2009. Apart from showcasing snakes, the show also focused on other wild animals like rhinos and hyenas.

 44 Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan
3
Famous As: writer, journalist, film director, novelist
Birthdate: 1961 AD
Birthplace: Longford

One of Australia’s best novelists, Richard Flanagan is known for his Booker Prize-winning book The Narrow Road to the Deep North. He was one of the screen writers of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia and has also written for publications such as Le Monde and The Daily Telegraph. He supports indigenous literacy.

 45 Greg Egan

Greg Egan
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 20, 1961
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Perth, Australia

 46 Toby Schmitz

Toby Schmitz
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 4, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Perth

Best known as pirate Calico Jack Rackham from the series Black Sails, Australian actor Toby Schmitz has also penned award-winning plays such as Lucky. Initially aspiring to be a lawyer, he later switched to theater and appeared on stage in many Sydney Theatre Company productions.

 47 Peter Carey

Peter Carey
3
Famous As: writer, novelist, screenwriter, university teacher, children's writer
Birthdate: May 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bacchus Marsh

 48 Kerry Greenwood

Kerry Greenwood
3
Famous As: Novelist, Playwright, Writer, Poet lawyer, Science fiction writer, Children's writer
Birthdate: June 17, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Melbourne

 49 Nevil Shute

Nevil Shute
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 17, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ealing, Middlesex , England
Died: January 12, 1960

British-Australian novelist Nevil Shute was also an aeronautical engineer and had fought in World War I. Of the 25 books he had penned throughout his lifetime, On the Beach remains one of the most notable. Most of his works reflected his cynicism regarding humanity in a war-ravaged society.

 50 Tim Winton

Tim Winton
3
Famous As: Writer, Screenwriter, Novelist, Children's writer
Birthdate: August 4, 1960
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Perth

Four-time Miles Franklin Award-winning Australian author Tim Winton excels in both adult and children’s books. Having written international bestsellers, such as the Booker Prize-shortlisted The Riders, he has been declared a Living Treasure in Australia. He is devoted to marine conservation and often describes coastal Western Australia in his novels.