Born: Established: 24 Aug 1927 Lakemba ;
David Ireland was born at Lakemba, New South Wales, and was educated at various schools, including Sydney Technical High School. After finishing high school, he held a variety of jobs, but spent most of his working life in an oil refinery. From an early age Ireland aspired to be a writer and he published several poems in the early 1950s. In 1958, he won third prize in the Elizabethan Theatre Trust competition for his play about an Aboriginal family, Image in the Clay. He wrote further plays, but he is best-known as a fiction writer, publishing his first novel, The Chantic Bird, in 1968.
Ireland's second novel, The Unknown Industrial Prisoner, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1971. He wrote another three novels during the 1970s and won the Miles Franklin Award two more times, for The Glass Canoe (1976) and A Woman of the Future (1979). He was made a member in the Order of Australia (AM) in 1981 and won the ALS Gold Medal in 1985.
Ireland's novels frequently explore the relationship between fiction and reality with fragmented narratives and unconventional narrators such as the red setter dog in Archimedes and the Seagle (1984). Ireland's frank and explicit treatment of sex has attracted controversy, causing his books to be withdrawn from the recommended reading list for the NSW Higher School Certificate course in 1983. But despite some argument over the merit of his work in the late 1970s, his fiction has since supported by two book-length studies.
Since 1973, Ireland has been a full-time writer.