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Robert Drewe Robert Drewe i(A696 works by) (a.k.a. Robert Duncan Drewe)
Born: Established: 1943 Melbourne, Victoria, ;
Gender: Male
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Robert Duncan Drewe grew up in Perth. He worked as a journalist for the West Australian in 1961, was columnist and literary editor at the Australian from 1970-1974, and bureau chief at the Age from 1965-1970. He was a special correspondent in 1976-1976, and from 1980-1982, and a foreign correspondent from 1973-1980 for the Bulletin. He has won a number of awards for his journalism work, including two Walkley Awards for his work at the Bulletin.

In the 1970s, he turned to fiction, beginning with The Savage Crows. Since then, he has written another six novels (as of 2017, when Whipbird was released), and numerous short stories, plays, biographies and autobiographies, and columns.

Drewe was an Australian Creative Fellow from 1992-1996, and Writer-in-Residence at the University of Western Australia in 1976, and at La Trobe University in 1986. He holds an honorary doctorate in literature from The University of Queensland and an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Western Australia.

Drewe writes novels, short stories, drama and critical material. His tone has been described as bleak, and his style frequently ventures into black comedy. His thematic interests include the clash between Aboriginal and white culture; the different roles available to individuals in Australian society; cultural mythology and the moral and social responsibilities of the media.

His work has been adapted for film, radio, theatre and television and has won national and international awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize and Premier's Awards for literature in NSW, Victoria, and Western Australia (including all three for The Drowner).



Most Referenced Works


  • A tape of an interview with Drewe by Annamarie Jagose is held at SUA.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Nimblefoot Melbourne : Hamish Hamilton , 2022 24430077 2022 single work novel 'The untold story of Johnny Day, Australia’s first international sports hero – a tale of mishap, adventure, chase, chance and luck – from one of Australia’s finest writers.

At the age of ten, and just short of four feet tall, a boy from Ballarat named Johnny Day became Australia’s first international sporting hero. Against adult competition he wooed crowds across continents as the World Champion in pedestrianism, the sporting craze of the day.

'A few years later, in 1870, he won the Melbourne Cup on a horse aptly called Nimblefoot, this time impressing British royalty and Melbourne’s high society. And then, still aged only fourteen, this already-famous athlete and jockey disappeared without a trace.

'Robert Drewe picks up where history leaves off, re-imagining Johnny’s life following his great Cup win. Celebrations that night land him in the company of Prince Alfred himself and some key Melbourne identities. But when Johnny becomes a reluctant witness to two murders in the town’s most notorious brothel, he finds himself on the run again – this time from the law itself.

'In fear of his life he heads west, assuming different identities to outsmart his pursuers. Yet all the while Johnny fears his luck will soon run out.

'Johnny Day is a character that couldn’t be invented, but in the masterful re-imagining of his life Robert Drewe brings us an adventure story, a coming-of-age classic, a man-hunt, a thriller – but most of all, a rollicking good yarn. And in doing so, he lays claim to Johnny Day’s rightful place in Australia’s illustrious sporting history.' (Publication summary)

2023 shortlisted Voss Literary Prize
2023 longlisted HNSA Historical Novel Prize Adult
2023 shortlisted Colin Roderick Award
2023 shortlisted Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Premier's Prize for Book of the Year Award
y separately published work icon The True Colour of the Sea Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2018 14212049 2018 selected work short story

'The long-awaited new collection of short stories from Australia’s master of the short-story genre.

'An artist marooned on a remote island in the Arafura Sea contemplates his survival chances. He understands his desperate plight and the ocean’s unrelenting power. But what is its true colour?

'A beguiling young woman nurses a baby by a lake while hiding brutal scars. Uneasy descendants of a cannibal victim visit the Pacific island of their ancestor’s murder. A Caribbean cruise of elderly tourists faces life with wicked optimism.

'Witty, clever, ever touching and always inventive, the eleven stories in The True Colour of the Sea take us to many varied coasts: whether a tense Christmas holiday apartment overlooking the Indian Ocean or the shabby glamour of a Cuban resort hotel.

'Relationships might be frayed, savaged, regretted or celebrated, but here there is always the life-force of the ocean – seducing, threatening, inspiring.

'In The True Colour of the Sea, Robert Drewe – Australia’s master of the short story form – makes a gift of stories that tackle the big themes of life: love, loss, desire, family, ageing, humanity and the life of art. '  (Publication summary)

2019 shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award
2019 winner Colin Roderick Award
y separately published work icon Montebello : A Memoir Hawthorn : Hamish Hamilton , 2012 Z1884113 2012 single work autobiography

'Montebello continues where Robert Drewe's much-loved memoir The Shark Net left off, taking us into his mature years. In the aftermath of events, both man-made and natural, that have left a permanent mark on the landscape and psyche of Western Australia - the British nuclear tests in the Montebello Islands, the mining boom, and shark attacks along the coast - Drewe examines how comfortable and familiar terrain can quickly become a site of danger, and how regeneration and renewal can emerge from chaos and loss.

'With humility, wit and a clear-eyed view of himself, he intertwines these stories with the events of his own life. His passion for islands - which began with Rottnest Island in his youth and continues to this day - frames the narrative; in the near-solitude of these remote places, he is free to reflect. This is a moving story of what it means to see and survive destruction, to love and to grow old.' (From the publisher's website.)

2013 longlisted Mark and Evette Moran Nib Award for Literature
2013 shortlisted National Biography Award
2012 shortlisted Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Non-Fiction
2013 shortlisted ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
Last amended 31 Aug 2021 09:09:51
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