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Peter Mathers Biography

(1931–2005), Trap, The Work Papers, tours de force, A Change for the Better, Mountain King

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Australian novelist, born in Fulham, London; he moved to Australia in infancy. He studied at Sydney Technical College and held various jobs until 1964, when he left Australia to live in Britain and the United States, returning in 1968. Trap (1966), his first novel, established him as an important voice in Australian fiction. Its part-Aborigine protagonist Jack Trap embodies an iconoclastic ambivalence to both the white and indigenous cultures of Australia and provides the focus for a narrative expansion that encompasses two centuries of its violent colonial history. The Work Papers (1972) combines an intricate network of individual destinies and versions of modern Australian identity in its treatments of a father and son whose exploratory journeys chart the state of the continent from the 1930s onward. Both novels are seriocomic tours de force, employing an extraordinary range of stylistic and narrative modes. The experimental tendency in Mathers's writing is at its most pronounced in the pervasive word-play and cryptic compression of the short stories in A Change for the Better (1984). A number of his plays, including Mountain King (1985) and Grigori Two (1987) have been produced by Melbourne theatre companies.

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