Famous Australian Writers

When you think of Australia, you usually think of cricket and kangaroos or Kylie Minogue or Baz Luhrmann or anything under the sun but literature. But mind you! Australian authors are gradually winning over hearts and taking over the world’s bookshelves in a big, big way. Be it Tim Winton’s "Breath" about surfing and taking risks or Geraldine Brooks worldwide bestseller "People of the Book" – one of the best books you could ever hope to read or two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey's books, or Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief" – a young adult novel, Australia has produced copious bestsellers over the years. Authors from down under have plenty to express, and they lace their stories and ideas with stunning prose and sharply detailed characters. Aussie writers have authors and published books that have put them on the international literary map. Here we bring you the biographies of some of the most famous Australian writers. Read on to know more about the timelines, life stories and interesting trivia & facts related to their lives.

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

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 1 Teresa Palmer

Teresa Palmer
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 26, 1986
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia
Teresa Palmer is best known for her roles in movies such as The Choice, Lights Out, I Am Number Four, and The Grudge 2. She worked in malls and wished to work in animal welfare, before being scouted by an agent. Her first full-fledged film, 2:37, was featured at Cannes.

 2 Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher
7
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 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.

 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.

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 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 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.

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 7 Clive James

Clive James
4
Famous As: Writer, Journalist, Literary critic
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. 

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 8 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. 

 9 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. 

 10 Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak
3
Famous As: Known for his bestselling young adult novels The Messenger and The Book Thief
Birthdate: June 23, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Markus Zusak is an Australian writer best known for his novels The Book Thief and The Messenger, which became international bestsellers. His mother is originally from Germany, while his father hails from Austria. Zusak was born and raised in Australia. He received the Kathleen Mitchell Award in 2006 and the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2014. 

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 11 Banjo Paterson

Banjo Paterson
8
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 17, 1864
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Orange
Died: February 5, 1941

Remembered for the legendary poems Waltzing Matilda and The Man from Snowy River, Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson was an Australian bush poet who depicted rural life through his works. Initially a law clerk and a journalist, he later adopted the pseudonym Banjo, which was his favorite horse’s name.

 12 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.

 13 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. 

 14 Anh Do

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

 15 Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin
4
Famous As: Comedian Best Known For His Musical Comedy
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.

 16 Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly
3
Famous As: Writer known for his bestselling Jack West and Shane Schofield series
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. 

 17 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.

 18 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.

 19 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. 

 20 Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 9, 1864
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England
Died: February 27, 1902

Anglo-Australian bush poet and military officer Breaker Morant was one of the first war criminals who was court-martialled, convicted and executed in British military history for murder during the Second Anglo-Boer War. A folk hero in modern Australia, Morant became subject of several books, a play and an award-winning film.

 21 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.

 22 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.

 23 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.

 24 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.

 25 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.

 26 Melissa Leong

Melissa Leong
0
Famous As: Co-host and judge of MasterChef Australia and Junior MasterChef Australia
Birthdate: March 27, 1982
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

 27 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. 

 28 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.

 29 Ben Elton

Ben Elton
5
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. 

 30 David Unaipon

David Unaipon
3
Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: September 28, 1872
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: South Australia
Died: February 7, 1967

David Unaipon was an Aboriginal Australian preacher, author, and inventor. He is best remembered for his significant contribution to Australian society, which helped break several stereotypes about Aboriginal Australians. Apart from establishing a couple of awards in his honor, the Australian government has also featured Unaipon on the Australian fifty-dollar note.

 31 Susan Powter

Susan Powter
3
Famous As: Motivational Speaker, Nutritionist & Author
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!"

 32 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

 33 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.

 34 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.  

 35 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.

 36 Rhonda Byrne

Rhonda Byrne
3
Famous As: Television writer, producer whose thought book The Secret is based on the law of attraction
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.

 37 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.

 38 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.

 39 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. 

 40 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. 

 41 Jelena Dokić

Jelena Dokić
3
Famous As: Tennis player who was world No. 4, in August 2002
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.

 42 Kerry Greenwood

Kerry Greenwood
3
Famous As: Famous for Her Phryne Fisher Series of Historical Detective Novels
Birthdate: 1954 AD
Birthplace: Footscray, Australia

 43 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.

 44 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. 

 45 Judith Wright

Judith Wright
3
Famous As: Poet, Environmentalist, Campaigner for Aboriginal Land Rights
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.

 46 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.

 47 Joanne van Os

Joanne van Os
0
Famous As: Memoirist, Children's writer
Birthdate: 1955 AD
Birthplace: Australia

 48 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.

 49 Norman Lindsay

Norman Lindsay
3
Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: February 22, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Creswick, Australia
Died: November 21, 1969

Once accused of being anti-Christian, Australian artist and Art Nouveau veteran Norman Lindsay is remembered for his controversial cartoons and drawings, mostly erotic or politically charged. Some of his works were once burned for being pornographic. He also experimented with sculpture and was an amateur boxer, too.

 50 Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette
4
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.