Famous 20th Century Australian Writers

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Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Australian Writers

 1 

Germaine Greer
5
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
(Actress)

Isla Fisher
8
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 
Saroo Brierley
(Businessman, Author)

Saroo Brierley
4
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.

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 4 
P. L. Travers
(Best Known as the Author of 'Mary Poppins' Series of Books)

P. L. Travers
7
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
(Stand-up comedian)

Jim Jefferies
4
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 
Tim Minchin
(Comedian Best Known For His Musical Comedy)

Tim Minchin
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Northampton, England

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.

 7 
Andrew Upton
(Film director, Screenwriter, Librettist)

Andrew Upton
4
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. 

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 8 

Liane Moriarty
4
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
(Writer, Journalist, Literary critic)

Clive James
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kogarah, Australia
Died: November 24, 2019

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 
Anh Do
(Author)

Anh Do
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vietnam

 11 
James Clavell
(Novelist)

James Clavell
3
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.

 12 
Robyn Davidson
(Explorer, Writer)

Robyn Davidson
3
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. 

 13 
J. M. Coetzee
(South African-Australian Writer and Recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature)

J. M. Coetzee
0
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.

 14 
Leigh Whannell
(Actor, Screenwriter, Writer, Director)

Leigh Whannell
4
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. 

 15 
Hamish Blake
(Writer, Actor)

Hamish Blake
3
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.

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 
John Pilger
(War correspondent, Writer, Director, Journalist)

John Pilger
3
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.

 18 
Colleen McCullough
(Novelist, Writer, Neurologist, Biographer, Science fiction writer)

Colleen McCullough
4
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.

 19 
Susan Powter
(Motivational Speaker, Nutritionist & Author)

Susan Powter
3
Birthdate: December 22, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

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!"

 20 
Matthew Reilly
(Writer known for his bestselling Jack West and Shane Schofield series)

Matthew Reilly
3
Birthdate: July 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

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. 

 21 
Rhonda Byrne
(Television writer, producer whose thought book The Secret is based on the law of attraction)

Rhonda Byrne
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1951
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia

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.

 22 
Burnum Burnum
(Activist)

Burnum Burnum
3
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 
Henry Lawson
(Writer)

Henry Lawson
3
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.

 24 
Peter FitzSimons
(Rugby union player, Biographer)

Peter FitzSimons
3
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.

 25 

Shannon Bennett
3
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. 

 26 
Gregory David Roberts
(writer, novelist)

Gregory David Roberts
3
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. 

 27 
Jelena Dokić
(Tennis player who was world No. 4, in August 2002)

Jelena Dokić
3
Birthdate: April 12, 1983
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Osijek, Croatia

Yugoslavian-born tennis star Jelena Dokic had once been world number 4 in singles. While she represented Serbia and Montenegro, Yugoslavia, and Australia in international events, post-retirement, she has mostly been associated with Australian tennis as a coach, author, and sports commentator. She accused her father of abuse in her memoir.

 28 
Thomas Keneally
(Writer, Playwright, Novelist, Actor, Author)

Thomas Keneally
3
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.

 29 
Timothy Conigrave
(actor,writer)

Timothy Conigrave
3
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.

 30 
Ken Ham
(Evangelist, Creationism)

Ken Ham
3
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. 

 31 
John Flanagan
(writer, novelist, screenwriter)

John Flanagan
3
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.

 32 
Bryce Courtenay
(Novelist)

Bryce Courtenay
3
Birthdate: August 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Died: November 22, 2012

Bryce Courtenay was a South African-Australian novelist and advertising director. Best remembered for his novel The Power of One, Courtenay remains one of Australia's best-selling writers several years after his death. Bryce Courtenay's relationship with his readers played an important role in his success; he often gave away free books to gain a loyal fan base.

 33 
Kathy Lette
(Novelist)

Kathy Lette
4
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.

 34 
Shaun Micallef
(Comedian who hosted the game show Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation on Channel 10)

Shaun Micallef
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Shaun Micallef first gained fame with Theatre Sports on ABC TV. A qualified lawyer who practiced for a decade too, he later stepped into films and TV. Although a teetotaler, he does consume alcohol for his shoots. He has also hosted programs such as the Dave & Denise with Shaun Micallef.

 35 
Garth Nix
(Writer, Children's writer, Author, Novelist, Science fiction writer)

Garth Nix
3
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.

 36 

Brendan Cowell
5
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.

 37 

Clementine Ford
3
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."

 38 
Peter Carey
(writer, novelist, screenwriter, university teacher, children's writer)

Peter Carey
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bacchus Marsh

 39 

Karl Kruszelnicki
3
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.

 40 
Richard Flanagan
(writer, journalist, film director, novelist)

Richard Flanagan
3
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.

 41 
Greg Egan
(Writer)

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

 42 
Austin Stevens
(Photographer, Writer)

Austin Stevens
4
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.

 43 
Robert Hughes
(Art Critic, Writer)

Robert Hughes
3
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.

 44 

Toby Schmitz
3
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.

 45 

Julie Goodwin
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1970
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sydney

While she initially pursued a degree in education, Julie Goodwin later quit and focused on youth work. The celebrity chef later won the first season of Masterchef Australia and has since penned cookbooks too. She is also a columnist and a singer, and has had her own cooking show, Home Cooked!

 46 
Kerry Greenwood
(Famous for Her Phryne Fisher Series of Historical Detective Novels)

Kerry Greenwood
3
Birthdate: 1954 AD
Birthplace: Footscray, Australia

 47 
Tim Winton
(Writer, Screenwriter, Novelist, Children's writer)

Tim Winton
3
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.

 48 
Judith Wright
(Poet, Environmentalist, Campaigner for Aboriginal Land Rights)

Judith Wright
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1915
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Armidale, Australia
Died: June 25, 2000

Judith Wright was an Australian environmentalist, poet, and campaigner for Indigenous land rights. Wright is credited with founding one of the earliest environmental conservation movements in Australia. Best remembered for her poetry skills, Judith Wright won the prestigious Christopher Brennan Award in 1976. In 1991, she was honored with the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

 49 
Patrick White
(Australian Writer)

Patrick White
3
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.

 50 
Trudi Canavan
(Best Known for Her Best-Selling Fantasy Trilogies 'The Black Magician' & 'Age of The Five')

Trudi Canavan
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia