The Blagger's Guide To: Peter Carey

When a student went in search of an exciting life

Peter Carey's 12th novel, The Chemistry of Tears, will be published on Thursday by Faber & Faber. The novel is his first to be set in contemporary London, and describes a museum conservator, Catherine, who is set to work reconstructing a 19th-century mechanical swan by a kindly boss who knows that she is grieving the death of her married lover. A journal that is found along with the swan reveals that it was commissioned by a bereaved Victorian father, whose young son was dying of consumption.

Carey is one of only two writers (along with JM Coetzee) who have won the Booker Prize twice: for Oscar and Lucinda in 1988, and True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001.

Carey was born in 1943 in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia. His parents ran a car dealership, and there were not many books in the house, though the young Carey did enjoy The Jungle Book, The Water-Babies and Biggles stories. He attended Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, where the Prince of Wales was later sent. HRH later recalled: "Seventy mile hikes – it was hell in those days – blood-soaked shirt from the rucksack on my back. I'm not making this up. But I loved it. All I can recollect is thinking 'Christ I'm bloody-well bushed'."

After high school, Carey began studying in Melbourne for a degree in organic chemistry and zoology, but abandoned it after a car crash. "I thought science would give me an exciting life of exploration and discovery," he has said, "but then I saw that literature would do that better." During the 1960s he worked in advertising in Melbourne, Sydney and London, while writing short stories that were published in magazines.

Carey's first full-length novel, Bliss, was about an advertising executive and was published in 1981. It won the Miles Franklin Award, and was later turned into a film (Carey worked on the screenplay) and an opera.

Carey's 2006 novel, Theft: A Love Story, was embroiled in controversy when his recently ex-wife and editor, the theatre director Alison Summers, claimed that the character of The Plaintiff, an "alimony whore", was modelled on Carey's embittered view of her and the end of their marriage. During the nearly 20 years they were together, Carey dedicated several books to her, praising her "clear literary intelligence and flawless dramatic instinct". Summers called his novel "emotional terrorism". Carey maintains that it is completely fictional, and that Summers' allegations are "all crap".

There are two Peter Careys associated with Australian rules football; one who played for Leyton Orient in the 1950s; a historian; a character in Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of Black Peter"; and a civil servant whose colleagues believed he was the model for TV's Sir Humphrey in the soon-to-return Yes Prime Minister.

Parrot and Olivier in America contains some embarrassing inaccuracies about leeches, according to a 2010 article by Germaine Greer. "Carey seems unaware that some of his readers might know more about leeches than he does," she complained.

Peter Carey currently lives in Manhattan, and teaches creative writing at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her in Latakia
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report