Educated during the 1950s at the private boys school Knox Grammar, Richard Neville enrolled in arts at the University of NSW after a short period as a copy-editor and student of commerce. Neville quickly established himself as a prominent campus figure by working on the student newspaper Tharunka, and participating in a number of high-profile pranks and protests.
As editor of Tharunka, Neville often tested the editorial tolerance of the Sydney Morning Herald, the campus newspaper's parent publisher, and was eventually forced to approach the rival Mirror newspaper for support. At issue were articles on prostitution and the competence of the university, an anti-authoritarian tone that Neville unleashed with more freedom in the irreverent, independent monthly Oz. But Neville and his co-editors went too far for 1960s Australia, facing charges several times for 'obscene' content.
After graduating in 1963, Neville continued with Oz until 1966 when he back-packed through Asia, filing 'hippie' reports for the Sydney Morning Herald. After arriving in London in 1966, he worked as a commentator on youth affairs for the BBC and established a London version of Oz magazine. Continuing the challenge to mainstream society begun in the Australian issues, the London publication also attracted charges of obscenity for a 1970 'Schoolkids' issue. This culminated in a celebrated court case in 1971 that saw the editors first sentenced to gaol before being released on appeal after significant public protests and support from celebrities such as John Lennon.
After the London Oz ceased production in 1973, Neville pursued a career in journalism in London, Sydney and New York, writing for the London Evening Standard, Nation Review, London Punch, High Times, the New York Times and the Soho News, and producing programs for ABC Radio. While in New York, in 1977 he was commissioned to write a book about an accused serial killer incarcerated in Delhi at that time. The book, co-authored by his wife Julie Clarke, was published in 1979 as The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj and became a bestseller. In 1979 Neville returned to Australia and during the 1980s and 1990s he continued with the media as a social commentator on midday television programs and as a regular columnist on business and environmental issues.
During this period, Neville wrote several books, including a commentary on youth culture, Play Power (1970), a novel, Playing Around (1991) and the memoir, Hippie Hippie Shake (1995). Neville has also written social critiques including Footprints of the Future : handbook for the third millennium (2002) and Amerika Psycho : behind Uncle Sam's mask of sanity (2003).