Peter was born in Bacchus Marsh in Victoria 1943. His first published work was the short story collection, THE FAT MAN IN HISTORY (1974). Peter went on to write WAR CRIMES (1979, winner Miles Franklin Award NSW Premier’s Literary Award), BLISS (1981, winner Miles Franklin Award, National Book Council Award, NSW Premier’s Literary Award), ILLYWHACKER (1985, shortlisted Booker Prize for Fiction, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, The Age Book of the Year and winner Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel), OSCAR AND LUCINDA (1988, winner Booker Prize of Fiction, Miles Franklin Award) THE BIG BAZOOHLEY (1995) and THE TAX INSPECTOR (1991).
Peter moved to New York in 1990 where he wrote THE UNUSUAL LIFE OF TRISTRAM SMITH (1994, The Age Book of the Year), JACK MAGGS (1997, Commonwealth Writers Prize, The Age Book of the Year, Miles Franklin Award), TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG (2001, winner Booker Prize and Commonwealth Writers Prize), MY LIFE AS A FAKE (2003), THEFT, A LOVE STORY (2006, Victorian and NSW Literary Awards), HIS ILLEGAL SELF (2008), OLIVIER AND PARROTT IN PARIS (2010), THE CHEMISTRY OF TEARS (2012), AMNESIA (2014) and A LONG WAY FROM HOME (2017).
His non fiction work includes 30 DAYS IN SYDNEY (2001) and WRONG ABOUT JAPAN (2005)
Along with director, Ray Lawrence, Peter adapted his novel BLISS in to a film which was released in 1985 and in 1997 OSCAR AND LUCINDA was released as a film, directed by Gillian Armstrong. JACK MAGGS, TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG and THEFT are all currently under option. Neil Armfield directed BLISS the opera in 2010, with music by Brett Dean and in 2018 Malthouse Theatre Company are producing a stage adaptation of BLISS.