Peter Carey
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Literary Arts

Peter Carey

Past Event: Tuesday, February 13, 2001

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

Peter Carey was born in 1943 in the small town of Bacchus Marsh in Victoria, Australia, to parents who were both car dealers. He attended the Geelong Grammar boarding school before entering Monash University. After dropping out of the university’s science program in the early 1960s, Carey spent the next five years working at various advertising agencies in Melbourne as a copywriter. During this time he met then aspiring writers Morris Lurie and Barry Oakley, who turned him onto literature and writing. After travelling and living in London for a brief time, he returned to Australia in 1970. He continued to support himself writing advertising copy while penning most of the stories in his first book, The Fat Man in History (1974). The publication of this book and his award-winning second short-story collection, War Games(1979), established Carey as an important new figure in Australian literature.

Like Carey’s short stories, his award-winning novels, such as Bliss (1981) and Illywhacker (1985), demonstrate a gift for rendering the bizarre and fantastical as if they were the norm. The London Evening Standard observed that “[Carey] changes your eyesight. He sucks you into a world that has nothing to do with anything or anyone and leaves you forgetting that you ever knew another.” In 1988, Carey released his extraordinary third novel, Oscar and Lucinda. Winner of the Booker Prize, the novel tells the unlikely love story of two compulsive gamblers who attempt to transport a glass church across the Australian Outback. In its review, The New York Times wrote “that like Thomas Wolfe, [Carey possesses] that magnificent vitality, that ebullient delight in character, detail and language that turns a novel into an important book.”

Carey has since written four other highly praised novels: The Tax Inspector (1991), The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994), Jack Maggs (1998), and True History of the Kelly Gang (2001). The latter tells the story of Australia’s most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly, whose tale Carey believes is one of Australia’s three great classic stories. “I really do believe that literature grows out of place,” says Carey. “I believe that I’m an Australian writer, and I don’t think I’m going to stop being an Australian writer.” This book won a second Booker prize for Carey.

In addition to novels, Carey has written two screenplays. Bliss, a film based on his novel, was awarded Best Film and Best Screenplay at Australia’s 1985 national film awards. He also co-wrote Until the End of the World with director Wim Wenders. Carey’s only children’s book, The Big Bazoohley, was published in 1995. For the past ten years, Carey has lived in New York and taught at Columbia University.

Excerpt from True History of the Kelly Gang (2001)
In the days before our father were imprisoned we Kelly children would walk to school along the creek but now we took a new path through the police paddock where the lockup stood. Apart from this stockade the paddock had no feature other than a dreary mound of clay which marked the grave of Doxcy’s mare. Even this miserable sight my father were denied for there was not one window in them heavy walls. At 1st we would shout out to him but never got any answer and finally we all give up excepting Jem who run his hands along the frost cold walls patting the prison like a dog.

I dreamed about my father every night he come to sit on the end of my bed and stare at me his puffy eyes silent his face lacerated by a thousand knife cuts.

I were so v. guilty I could never of admitted that life without my father had become in many ways more pleasant. Only when his big old buck cat went missing did I finally tell my ma I were pleased to see it gone.

Do not misundersand me our lives was far harder for his absence. The landlord provided no decent fences so the mother and her children was obliged to build a dogleg fence 2 mi. long to save our cows from impounding. In any case our stock would still escape the fines was 5/- for a cow 3/- for a pig. This we could ill afford. Our mother were expecting another baby she were always weary yet more tender than before. At night she would gather us about her and tell us stories and poems she never done that when my da were away shearing or contracting but now we discovered this treasure she had committed to her memory. She knew the stories of Conchobor and Dedriu and Mebd the table of Cuchulainn I still see him stepping into his war chariot it bristles with points of iron and narrow blades with hooks and hard prongs and straps and loops and cords.

The southerly wind blew right through the hut and it were so bitter it made your head ache though it ain’t the cold I remember but the light of the tallow candle it were golden on my mother’s cheeks it shone in her great dark eyes bright and fierce as a native cat to defend her fatherless brood. In the stories she told us of the old country there was many such women they was queens they was hot blooded not careful they would fight a fight and take a king into their marriage bed. They would have been called Irish rubbish in Avenel.

Selected WorkTrue History of the Kelly Gang (2001)Jack Maggs (1997)The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994)The Tax Inspector (1991)Oscar and Lucinda (1988)Illywacker (1985)Bliss (1981)

LinksAuthor’s websiteBook review on Jack Maggs from Time Magazine, Inc.New York Times featured author

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

By Car

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5 via Westbound I-90
    Take the 2C exit for I-5 North. Follow signs for Madison Street/Convention Place and merge right onto Seventh Avenue. Turn left onto Madison Street. Proceed three blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue four blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)

Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).


The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. ChargePoint charging stations are available for electric vehicles. Visit the Benaroya Hall website for event pricing.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. This option is present at every event at Benaroya Hall in our 2021/22 Season.

Closed Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where captioning displays the words that are spoken or sung at the bottom of the video during an online event. Captioning is available for all online events; click the “CC” button to view captions during the event.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Benaroya Hall has an infrared hearing system, which transmits sound by light beams. Headsets are available in The Boeing Company Gallery coat check and the Head Usher stations in both lobbies.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals for both in-person and online events. To make a request for interpretation, please contact us at [email protected] or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Sign Language Interpretation” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process and we will contact you to confirm details. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Among other features, Benaroya Hall has designated parking spaces adjacent to elevators in their parking garage. Elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. To reserve seating for a specific mobility concern, you may select “Wheelchair Accessible or Alternative Seating Options” during ticket checkout, and we will contact you to confirm details. For more details on their accessibility features, click here.

Guide and service dogs are welcome.

Gender neutral restrooms are available.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive. Our Patron Services Manager is available at [email protected], or Monday-Friday from 10:00am – 5:00pm at 206.621.2230×10.

For more accessibility information, please head to If you would like to make accessibility arrangements you do not see listed here, please contact our box office or select “Other Accommodations” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process, and we will contact you to confirm details.