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Scott was born in Littlehampton in Sussex, England, migrating to Australia during his childhood. Over several books of poetry his work developed in an 'experimental' direction unusual in Australian poetry, owing partly to his interest in translation. Indeed he has translated a volume, Elegies, of the contemporary French poet Emmanuel Hocquard. However since the 1990s he has concentrated on producing novels. This change was occasioned in part by an Australia Council studio fellowship in Paris which he shared with the Australian novelist Mark Henshaw. His work has won him the Victorian Premier's Award twice, in 1986 and again in 1994. The novel, What I Have Written, has been filmed from his own screenplay and he has been translated into French, German and Slovenian. He has taught in the Faculty of Creative Arts at Wollongong University but now writes full-time.