Peter Carey

Mr Peter Carey

  • Post Nominals: FAHA, AO
  • Fellow Type: Honorary Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 2001


In 1961, Peter Carey 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 19.

For the next 13 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 and 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 New York University one night a week. Later he would have similar jobs at Princeton University, 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.

Carey has been awarded three honorary degrees. Twice winner of Booker Prize 1988 and 2001. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (1989), an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (2001), and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2003). In 2010, he appeared on two Australian postage stamps in a series dedicated to “Australian Legends”. On 11 June 2012, Carey was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to literature as a novelist, through international promotion of the Australian identity, as a teacher, and as a mentor to emerging writers.”

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.