Kenneth Cook (1929–1987) was a prolific Australian journalist, film director, screenwriter, TV personality and novelist best known for his works Wake in Fright, which is still in print five decades after its first publication, and the humorous Killer Koala trilogy.
Born in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba, Cook attended Fort Street High School. After leaving school he worked around Australia in a variety of jobs including laboratory technician, journalist and television documentary-maker and boatshed operator.
In 1966, with businessman Gordon Barton, Cook founded a new political party, the Liberal Reform Group. Cook was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War, and stood (unsuccessfully) as an LRG candidate for the seat of Parramatta in the 1966 federal election.
Cook was married to Patricia Hickie, with whom he had four children, Megan (an accomplished journalistic-style writer in her own right whose surname was Gressor), Kerry, Paul and Anthony. He and Patricia were subsequently divorced. Kenneth Cook died of a heart attack in 1987, aged 57, while on a camping trip with his second wife, Jacqueline Kent. Patricia Cook died suddenly in 2006; daughter Megan Gressor died unexpectedly from post-operative complications in 2007, aged 52; his youngest son Anthony, a prominent lawyer who was well known for his work with indigenous Australians, took his own life in April 2009.
Several of Cook's novels were adapted for the screen. Wake in Fright was filmed in 1971 by Ted Kotcheff, starring Donald Pleasence and Gary Bond (released under the title Outback in Europe and the US). Stockade was filmed by Ross McGregor and Hans Pomeranz, also in 1971. In 1976 The Bushranger was made into a telemovie, starring Leonard Teale, John Hamblin and Kate Fitzpatrick.
In 2007 Cook's novel The Man Underground was adapted as a radio drama by ABC Radio National
A 72-minute audio interview with Cook by Hazel de Berg was recorded in 1972, in which he discusses his family, his work for the ABC, the background to Wake in Fright, his ventures into film production and his novels. The interview is preserved in the collection of the National Library of Australia
Cook's literary estate is managed by Curtis Brown Australia
- Cook, Kenneth (2002 / 1961). Wake in Fright. Text / M. Joseph.
- Cook, Kenneth (1983). The Judas Fish. Rigby Pub.
- Hale, Alan; Kenneth Cook (1963). Vantage to the Gale. Horwitz.
- Cook, Kenneth (1962). Chain of Darkness. M. Joseph.
- Cook, Kenneth (1963). Stormalong. M. Joseph.
- Cook, Kenneth (1963). Wanted Dead. Horwitz. - filmed as The Bushranger (1976)
- Cook, Kenneth (1963). Bloodhouse. M. Joseph.
- Cook, Kenneth (1963). Take this Hammer. Horwitz.
- Cook, Kenneth (1967). Tuna. F. W. Cheshire.
- Cook, Kenneth (1976). Eliza Fraser. Sun Books.
- Cook, Kenneth (1978). Play Little Victims. Pergamon.
- Cook, Kenneth (1980). Pig. Schwartz.
- Cook, Kenneth (1986). Killer Koala. Margaret Gee.
- Cook, Kenneth (1987). Wombat Revenge. Margaret Gee.
- Cook, Kenneth (1987). Frill-necked Frenzy. Margaret Gee.
- Curtis Brown Australia – Literary Estates – Kenneth Cook
- ABC Radio National Book Reading – Wake in Fright
- John Feneley and John Collee, Anthony Cook obituary, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 2009
- ABC Radio National – Books & Writing
- IMDb – Stockade
- IMDb – The Bushranger (TV)
- IMDb – The Rovers
- ABC Radio National – Airplay, 4 Nov. 2007
- National Library of Australia – online catalogue
- Kenneth Cook summary by Jan Wositsky of program on Radio National (ABC)
- "Out of Control in Oz: The Novels of Kenneth Cook"