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The Most Famous

WRITERS from Australia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Australian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,755 Writers, 33 of which were born in Australia. This makes Australia the birth place of the 34th most number of Writers behind Argentina and Croatia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Australian Writers of all time. This list of famous Australian Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Australian Writers.

Photo of Colleen McCullough

1. Colleen McCullough (1937 - 2015)

With an HPI of 63.00, Colleen McCullough is the most famous Australian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 45 different languages on wikipedia.

Colleen Margaretta McCullough (; married name Robinson, previously Ion-Robinson; 1 June 1937 – 29 January 2015) was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and The Ladies of Missalonghi.

Photo of P. L. Travers

2. P. L. Travers (1899 - 1996)

With an HPI of 59.80, P. L. Travers is the 2nd most famous Australian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Pamela Lyndon Travers (; born Helen Lyndon Goff; 9 August 1899 – 23 April 1996) was an Australian-British writer who spent most of her career in England. She is best known for the Mary Poppins series of books, which feature the eponymous magical nanny. Goff was born in Maryborough, Queensland, and grew up in the Australian bush before being sent to boarding school in Sydney. Her writing was first published when she was a teenager, and she also worked briefly as a professional Shakespearean actress. Upon emigrating to England at the age of 24, she took the name "Pamela Lyndon Travers" and adopted the pen name P. L. Travers in 1933 while writing the first of eight Mary Poppins books. Travers travelled to New York City during World War II while working for the British Ministry of Information. At that time, Walt Disney contacted her about selling to Walt Disney Productions the rights for a film adaptation of Mary Poppins. After years of contact, which included visits to Travers at her home in London, Walt Disney obtained the rights and the film Mary Poppins premiered in 1964. In 2004, a stage musical adaptation of the books and the film opened in the West End; it premiered on Broadway in 2006. A film based on Disney's efforts to persuade Travers to sell him the Mary Poppins film rights was released in 2013, Saving Mr. Banks, in which Travers is portrayed by Emma Thompson. In a 2018 sequel to the original film, Mary Poppins Returns, Poppins, played by Emily Blunt, returns to help the Banks family once again.

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3. James Clavell (1921 - 1994)

With an HPI of 58.47, James Clavell is the 3rd most famous Australian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

James Clavell (born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell; 10 October 1921 – 7 September 1994) was an Australian-born British (later naturalised American) writer, screenwriter, director, and World War II veteran and prisoner of war. Clavell is best known as the author of his Asian Saga novels, a number of which have had television adaptations. Clavell also wrote such screenplays as those for The Fly (1958), based on the short story by George Langelaan, and The Great Escape (1963), based on the personal account of Paul Brickhill. He directed the popular 1967 film To Sir, with Love, for which he also wrote the script.

Photo of Rhonda Byrne

4. Rhonda Byrne (1945 - )

With an HPI of 55.46, Rhonda Byrne is the 4th most famous Australian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Rhonda Byrne ( BURN; née Izon; born 1951, Melbourne, Australia) is an Australian television writer and producer. Her book The Secret is based on the belief of the pseudoscientific law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person's life directly. She wrote several sequels to the book, including The Power and The Magic.

Photo of Thomas Keneally

5. Thomas Keneally (1935 - )

With an HPI of 54.61, Thomas Keneally is the 5th most famous Australian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Thomas Michael Keneally, AO (born 7 October 1935) is an Australian novelist, playwright, essayist, and actor. He is best known for his non-fiction novel Schindler's Ark, the story of Oskar Schindler's rescue of Jews during the Holocaust, which won the Booker Prize in 1982. The book would later be adapted into Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Schindler's List, which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Photo of John Flanagan

6. John Flanagan (1944 - )

With an HPI of 54.43, John Flanagan is the 6th most famous Australian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

John Anthony Flanagan (born 22 May 1944) is an Australian fantasy author best known for his medieval fantasy series, the Ranger's Apprentice series, and its sister series, the Brotherband Chronicles. Some of his other works include his Storm Peak duology, as well as the adult novel The Grey Raider.

Photo of Germaine Greer

7. Germaine Greer (1939 - )

With an HPI of 54.28, Germaine Greer is the 7th most famous Australian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Germaine Greer (; born 29 January 1939) is an Australian writer and public intellectual, regarded as one of the major voices of the second-wave feminism movement in the latter half of the 20th century.Specializing in English and women's literature, she has held academic positions in England at the University of Warwick and Newnham College, Cambridge, and in the United States at the University of Tulsa. Based in the United Kingdom since 1964, she has divided her time since the 1990s between Queensland, Australia, and her home in Essex, England.Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since her first book, The Female Eunuch (1970), made her a household name. An international bestseller and a watershed text in the feminist movement, it offered a systematic deconstruction of ideas such as womanhood and femininity, arguing that women were forced to assume submissive roles in society to fulfil male fantasies of what being a woman entailed.Greer's subsequent work has focused on literature, feminism and the environment. She has written over 20 books, including Sex and Destiny (1984), The Change (1991), The Whole Woman (1999), and The Boy (2003). Her 2013 book, White Beech: The Rainforest Years, describes her efforts to restore an area of rainforest in the Numinbah Valley in Australia. In addition to her academic work and activism, she has been a prolific columnist for The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Independent, and The Oldie, among others.Greer is a liberation (or radical) rather than equality feminist. Her goal is not equality with men, which she sees as assimilation and "agreeing to live the lives of unfree men". "Women's liberation", she wrote in The Whole Woman (1999), "did not see the female's potential in terms of the male's actual." She argues instead that liberation is about asserting difference and "insisting on it as a condition of self-definition and self-determination". It is a struggle for the freedom of women to "define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate".

Photo of James Aldridge

8. James Aldridge (1918 - 2015)

With an HPI of 53.32, James Aldridge is the 8th most famous Australian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Harold Edward James Aldridge (10 July 1918 – 23 February 2015) was an Australian-British writer and journalist. His World War II despatches were published worldwide and he was the author of over 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction works, including war and adventure novels and books for children.

Photo of Morris West

9. Morris West (1916 - 1999)

With an HPI of 52.75, Morris West is the 9th most famous Australian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Morris Langlo West (26 April 1916 – 9 October 1999) was an Australian novelist and playwright, best known for his novels The Devil's Advocate (1959), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963) and The Clowns of God (1981). His books were published in 27 languages and sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. Each new book he wrote after he became an established writer sold more than one million copies.West's works were often focused on international politics and the role of the Roman Catholic Church in international affairs. In The Shoes of the Fisherman he described the election and career of a Slav as Pope, 15 years before the historic election of Karol Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II. The sequel, The Clowns of God, described a successor Pope who resigned the papacy to live in seclusion, 32 years before the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.

Photo of Elizabeth von Arnim

10. Elizabeth von Arnim (1866 - 1941)

With an HPI of 51.98, Elizabeth von Arnim is the 10th most famous Australian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Elizabeth von Arnim (31 August 1866 – 9 February 1941), born Mary Annette Beauchamp, was an English novelist. Born in Australia, she married a German aristocrat, and her earliest works are set in Germany. Her first marriage made her Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin and her second Elizabeth Russell, Countess Russell. After her first husband's death, she had a three-year affair with the writer H. G. Wells, then later married Frank Russell, elder brother of the Nobel prize-winner and philosopher Bertrand Russell. She was a cousin of the New Zealand-born writer Katherine Mansfield. Though known in early life as May, her first book introduced her to readers as Elizabeth, which she eventually became to friends and finally to family. Her writings are ascribed to Elizabeth von Arnim. She used the pseudonym Alice Cholmondeley for only one novel, Christine, published in 1917.

Pantheon has 32 people classified as writers born between 1864 and 1976. Of these 32, 18 (56.25%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Rhonda Byrne, Thomas Keneally, and John Flanagan. The most famous deceased writers include Colleen McCullough, P. L. Travers, and James Clavell. As of April 2022, 2 new writers have been added to Pantheon including John Flanagan and Donna Williams.

Living Writers

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Deceased Writers

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Newly Added Writers (2022)

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Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 13 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.