Peter Goldsworthy was born at Minlaton, South Australia. He grew up in various South Australian towns and in Darwin before studying medicine at the University of Adelaide. Goldsworthy graduated in 1974 and, while beginning his career in medicine, began to see his poems published in Westerly and several issues of the Friendly Street Poetry Reader. Goldsworthy's poetry and short fiction began to attract attention in the early 1980s and in 1982 he won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for a first collection with Readings from Ecclesiastes. In 1989 he published his first novel, Maestro, and has since published five more novels, including a collaboration with Brian Matthews.
Goldsworthy's poetry and fiction often assess the triviality of contemporary life with acerbic wit and humour. His works frequently exhibit a compassion for the disadvantaged that is balanced by his critique of the apathy of those more fortunate.
His novels have been well received and Maestro is widely taught in high schools. His works have been translated into many languages. He has published essays in many periodicals and published a selection of these in Navel Gazing (1998).
Some of Goldsworthy's poems have been set to music by Australian composers such as Graeme Koehne, Richard Mills and Matthew Hindson, and he has written libretti for Richard Mills' operatic version of Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and the opera Batavia, also by Mills.
He was appointed Chair of the Australia Council's Literature Board in 2001 and has also chaired the Libraries Board of South Australia..
Gravel2010selected work short story The characters in this collection of stories, which comprises six shorter and two longer pieces, want things that run counter to their sense of themselves. They are drawn outside their comfort zone into situations that are sometimes amusing, sometimes undignifying, never quite what they expect.
Thus, for example, a contented woman finds herself considering a bizarre sexual invitation that just days before filled her with scorn. A mediocre man is pulled into a strange dance with his stalker. A father gives his daughter a Christmas present with a disturbing history. An ugly sports parent plays a game of ridiculous chance. A young boy's music lesson offers him a discordant insight into adult behaviour. And in a primal tale about the borderline between animals and humans, death is horrifyingly not the end of the story. (Adapted from Trove)
'It's the year 1964, and fourteen-year-old know-it-all Robbie Burns is about to discover he still has a lot to learn.
'The world is changing fast, although the news has yet to reach the small South Australian town of Penola. There Robbie leads and idyllic life of rabbiting, backyard science experiments, and hooligan scrapes with his friend Billy. Penola is oblivious even to its minor celebrity as the birthplace of the poet John Shaw Neilson, but poetry means the world to Robbie's new teacher from the city, the stylish Miss Peach, a sixties sophisticate with stirrup pants, Kool cigarettes and Vespa scooter.
'Miss Peach's artistic yearnings and modern ways prove too much for the good people of Penola, but they fire Robbie's precocious imagination and burgeoning sexuality, until what begins as a schoolboy fantasy has terrible, real consequences.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Is it possible to be too much in love? After ten years in London, Martin Blackman returns to Adelaide with his wife and fellow psychiatrist Lucy, blissfully happy. But then he introduces her to his old friend Felix, once a brilliant surgeon, now barred from practising and changed beyond recognition. In the complex triangle that develops, Martin must decide just how far he is prepared to go for Felix. So begins the darkest of journeys for all three of them...' (Publication summary)