Larry Buttrose

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Larry Philip Buttrose (born 16 December 1952) is an Australian writer, journalist and academic.[1] He is the ghostwriter of the Saroo Brierley memoir A Long Way Home[2] (adapted for the screen as the major international feature film Lion). He is also the author of the novels The Maze of the Muse and Sweet Sentence, and the travel books The King Neptune Day & Night Club, and Cafe Royale (also published as The Blue Man).

For the stage he co-wrote the hit musical Hot Shoe Shuffle, as well Kurtz, his stage adaptation of Heart of Darkness, and a stage adaptation of Don Quixote. For the screen he co-wrote the feature Gino and the feature documentary Movietone Memories,[3] and is currently working on the screenplay for Hicks, about the life of Australian inmate in Guantanamo, David Hicks. He teaches Screenwriting at New York University’s Sydney campus at The Rocks.

Personal life[edit]

Buttrose was born in Adelaide, South Australia, into a working class Anglo-Celtic family. He had a love of books and reading from childhood, and began writing poetry in his early teens.

He was educated at Saint Ignatius College and Adelaide University, and at the age of 17 co-founded the poetry magazine Dharma (later titled Real Poetry) with his then partner Donna Maegraith and friend Stephen Measday. While at university he also trained as a journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (now Corporation), and after graduating he travelled extensively working as a freelance journalist. He has lived in London, with stints in Bath and New York, and gained his PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2011. He lives in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney with his partner Belle and their young daughter Ada. He also has a teenage son, Jack.


Buttrose published his first collection of poems, One Steps Across The Rainbow in 1974, at the age of 21. His first major collection, The Leichhardt Heater Journey (1982), was the first title in the long-running Friendly Street Poets series. He also co-edited the Number 3 Friendly Street anthology with Peter Goldsworthy.

Tom Thompson at Angus & Robertson published Buttrose's first book of travel writing, The King Neptune Day & Night Club in 1992, and the critically acclaimed best-seller Cafe Royale followed in 1997. Lonely Planet Journeys published it internationally in 1999, retitled as The Blue Man.

Two novels followed: The Maze of the Muse (1998), about a young poet who travels to Spain to seek a “Poet’s Blessing” from the English poet Robert Graves, and Sweet Sentence (2001) set in Puducherry in India, and interweaving themes of lost love and political upheaval.

In 2004, he collaborated on the memoir by Michael Hutchence's brother Rhett, Total Xcess, for New Holland Publishers, and a string of books followed, including Tales of the Popes (2009) and the satirical graphic novel Finding the Shelf Within (2009).

He has also written extensively for the stage, his produced works including Pallas (1987), Kurtz (1991), the co-written musical Hot Shoe Shuffle (1992) and Complaints (1996). The ABC has produced two plays for radio, Santo (1986) and Complaints (1993).

He has contributed journalism to Interview and Rolling Stone, and essays and opinion pieces have been published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian. He has also done a number of talks for the ABC's Ockham's Razor programme, is also a keen blogger, and teaches at the University of Western Sydney.

His best known book is A Long Way Home, the Saroo Brierley memoir, which he ghost-wrote in 2012. He researched and wrote the book between September and December of that year, including research trips to Hobart to interview Saroo and his family, and a month-long journey to India with Saroo. There he met Saroo’s Indian family, and travelled with Saroo on a rail journey across India, retracing for the first time the journey that Saroo took two and a half decades before as a young child, that ended him in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Buttrose completed the book in his Kolkata hotel room, and emailed the manuscript to the publishers Penguin on the date of the deadline.

His most recent books are The Muse of the Maze[4] (a completely revised version of The Maze of the Muse), published in 2016 by Brysha Wilson Press, who in 2017 will also publish his Selected Poems.

Over the last decade Buttrose has been working as an academic in addition to his regular work as a writer. As an academic he has taught screenwriting for New York University,[5] scriptwriting, transmedia and media arts for Western Sydney University,[6] and creative writing for James Cook University and Southern Cross University.

He holds a PhD in creative writing from Adelaide University (2011). His thesis was a critique of post-modern theory titled ‘The Author is the Book: History, Identity and Meaning in Literary Fiction’.

Cabaret and comedy[edit]

In 1982 Buttrose joined Len Lindon's innovative comedy cabaret group Quietly Confident. The group moved to Sydney later that year, establishing itself in Surry Hills. They performed at many of the city's leading venues, including Kinselas, the Tivoli, Stranded and Art Unit. They released a single, Republic of Australia, and in 1983 performed a self-devised play, Scenario X, about the sacking of the Whitlam Government, at the Nimrod Theatre. The group broke up that year, but in late 1983 Buttrose co-founded The Gap cabaret venue at the Sydney Trade Union Club with his then partner comedian Mandy Salomon, and their business partner, Judy Barnsley.

The Gap ran from 1983–1987, and helped launch the careers of a host of performers, including Salomon herself (with whom Buttrose collaborated in a creative partnership), Gretel Killeen and Julie McCrossin. Buttrose, Salomon and Barnsley also co-produced the Characters! series at The Gap and at the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf Theatre, showcasing Australia's new generation of women comics, including Wendy Harmer, Mary-Anne Fahey, Gretel Killeen, Sue Ingleton, Angela Moore, Melanie Salomon, Victoria Roberts and Penny Biggins, poet Pam Brown, Sarah Miller (Told by an Idiot) and hosted by Mandy Salomon.

In 1986 Buttrose was approached by Mark Morgan of the Harold Park Hotel to start a weekly comedy night, called Comics in the Park. It quickly gained a following from audiences, and a number of Australia's leading comedians did their first performances there, including Bob Downe (whom Buttrose later managed), Flacco, Jimeoin, Kitty Flanagan, and the Umbilical Brothers. Others who performed there included Robin Williams, Vince Sorrenti, Austen Tayshus, George Smilovici, Steve Abbott, and Funny Stories.

Other interests[edit]

Buttrose plays squash and badminton, and in 2006 co-founded The Carringtonians, a long-running weekly drinks get-together for Blue Mountains writers and others, at the historic Carrington Hotel in Katoomba.



  • The Maze of the Muse[7] (1998)
  • Sweet Sentence (2001)

Humour and graphic novel[edit]

  • Finding The Shelf Within (2009)


  • The King Neptune Day & Night Club (1992)[8]
  • Cafe Royale (1997)/The Blue Man (1999)[9]


  • One Steps Across The Rainbow (1974)
  • Random Leaves (1978)
  • The King Neptune Day & Night Club (1982)
  • Learning Italian (1986)


  • Total Xcess (editor/collaborator, 2004)
  • People Who Changed the Modern World (2005)
  • Powerful & Influential People (2006)
  • Dead Famous: Deaths of the Famous and Famous Deaths (2007)[10]
  • Tales of the Popes (2009)[11]
  • Speeches of War and Peace (2009, Concise edition 2010)


  • Scenario X (co-creator, 1983)
  • 111 Foveaux (co-creator/director 1983)
  • Opera Opera! (co-creator/director 1985)
  • Rubble (co-creator/director 1987)
  • Pallas (1987)
  • Kurtz (1991)
  • Hot Shoe Shuffle (co-written with Kathryn Riding, 1992)
  • Complaints (1996)

Radio plays[edit]

  • Santo (1986)
  • Complaints (1993)


  • Ozymandias (music film clip, director/producer/narrator, 1986)
  • Movietone Memories (1988)
  • Gino (feature co-written with Vince Sorrenti, 1993)



  1. ^ National Library of Australia listing for Larry Buttrose – Australian Writer –
  2. ^ Listing for 'Long Way Home' at the National Library of Australia -
  3. ^ Movietone Memories documentary listing at the National Library of Australia -
  4. ^ Publisher's Blog entry of the book release 'The Muse of the Maze' -
  5. ^ Larry Buttrose listed as academic staff for NYU - Sydney, Australia -
  6. ^ Larry Buttrose staff profile page at Western Sydney University -
  7. ^ Record of Book held at National Library of Australia first published in 1998 in Pymble, N.S.W.: By Flamingo Press
  8. ^ The King Neptune Day & Night Club by Larry Buttrose, part of the Trove collection at the National Library of Australia –
  9. ^ Cafe Royale by Larry Buttrose. Book held in the Trove collection at National Library of Australia –
  10. ^ 'Dead Famous' by Larry Buttrose – Published by New Holland – Entry for book on publishers website -
  11. ^ Tales of The Popes by Larry Buttrose. Published by New Holland 2009 – Trove Collection at the National Library of Australia