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Peter Mathers Peter Mathers i(A28832 works by)
Born: Established: 1931 Fulham, London,
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England,
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United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 8 Nov 2004 Melbourne, Victoria,
Gender: Male
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BiographyHistory

Peter Mathers was born at Fulham, England, moving as an infant with his family to Australia. He had a state school education in Sydney. His early reading was in popular science and mechanics as well as the the books of W. E. Johns and R. M. Ballantyne. After his intermediate certificate at Randwick Intermediate High School, he spent a year at Sydney Boys High School. His English teacher there wrote and published short stories in similar vein to Henry Lawson.

Leaving school at sixteen, he worked at numerous occupations. Initially, he was a laboratory assistant for Drug Houses of Australia and attended an agricultural course at Ultimo in the evenings and on weekends. The course took him into the bush and it was then that he started serious reading. He worked in a variety of jobs in his twenties: for James Hardie at Asbestos House, shearing, share farming on the north coast of New South Wales, labouring, wool-classing, work in a brewery, and in the Victoriam public service. He attended Sydney Technical College.

Mathers married Muriel Button in 1963 and had two daughters, Sarah and Zoe. Between 1964 and 1967, they lived in Britain and Europe, where Mathers worked as a researcher for stockbrokers and literary scholars while pursuing his own writing. Before returning to Australia, he spent a year in the United States of America on a writer's residency at the University of Pittsburgh, advising students studying theatre. In 1978, Mathers was writer-in-residence at the University of Melbourne. By the 1980s, he was living alone in Richmond, Melbourne.

Some of Mathers's short stories were published in Australian Letters and Overland during the early 1960s, but he achieved remarkable success with his first novel Trap (1966), winning the Miles Franklin Award. He published a second novel, The Wort Papers, in 1972, and numerous short stories, many of which are collected in A Change for the Better (1984). In his last decades, Mathers wrote more than a dozen plays, and eight were produced at La Mama and the Courthouse theatres in Melbourne. None were ever published. In the 1990s, he diversified into the visual arts with hand-crafted postcards and sculptured angels. In 2001, an exhibition at Bridget McDonnell's gallery featuring his sculpted angels came with his last book, Angels.

Mathers's novels exhibit comic and satiric elements and employ several narrative voices to offer varied interpretations of Australian history. These interpretations are often produced with frequent time-shifts and dislocated narratives, providing a chaotic portrait of Australian identity. Mathers was an emiritus fellow of the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He died of cancer.

(Source: 'Peter Mathers' in Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002; Denis Moore and Craig Robertson, 'Peter Mathers 1931-2004: obituary. [Collection of two articles]' Overland, no.179, Winter 2005: 92-95.)

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Trap : A Novel Melbourne : Cassell Australia , 1966 Z509774 1966 single work novel
1966 winner Miles Franklin Literary Award

Known archival holdings

State Library of Victoria (VIC)
Last amended 7 Nov 2013 16:11:03
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