Barry Andrews graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1963, at a time when Australia's cultural cringe (away from local culture in favour of British culture) was strongly marked. His championing of Australian literary culture ranged widely, from Ginger Meggs to Henry Lawson. He taught English at University College Canberra (now UNSW ADFA) and was a co-founder of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL). He died at the age of forty-four.
On the day of his death, the Oxford Literary Guide to Australia, an ASAL publication that he had inspired and of which he was associate editor, was published and a copy put beside his bed; however, he was too ill to be aware of it. ASAL sponsors an annual lecture in his honour.