Peter Temple

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Peter Temple
Peter Temple at Oslo Bokfestival in 2011
Peter Temple at Oslo Bokfestival in 2011
Born(1946-03-10)10 March 1946
South Africa
Died8 March 2018(2018-03-08) (aged 71)
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
GenreMurder mystery, thriller, crime fiction
Notable worksJack Irish series

Peter Temple (10 March 1946 – 8 March 2018) was an Australian crime fiction writer, mainly known for his Jack Irish novel series. He won several awards for his writing, including the Gold Dagger in 2007, the first for an Australian. He was also an international magazine and newspaper journalist and editor.


Peter Temple was born in South Africa in 1946 of Dutch and British/Irish ancestry.[1] He grew up in a small town near South Africa’s border with Botswana.[2] While English was spoken in the family home, he lived in a largely Afrikaans-speaking district and his early schooling was in both English and Afrikaans.[1] At the age of 15 he was sent to school in East London,[1] an area of stronger British heritage.

After school, Temple served a year of national service in the army, stationed at Cape Town.[3] Following that year of service he commenced a cadetship with the major afternoon daily in Cape Town, the Cape Argus,[4] a prominent voice of opposition against the dominant National Party during the apartheid years. During his years with the newspaper, particularly while doing police rounds in the courts of Cape Town, he saw at first hand the degrading effect of apartheid on people of colour and felt the experience changed him.[1]

During his mid-twenties he married his wife, Anita, and moved to Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in the Eastern Cape province to study history and politics at Rhodes University with the intention of becoming an historian.[1] However, he returned to newspapers until he was recruited to teach journalism in the earliest days of that course at Rhodes University.[4]

Temple eventually came to consider himself as "complicit" in the apartheid regime,[5] and after the death of Steve Biko in 1977 he resolved that he had to leave South Africa.[1] With the reluctance of Commonwealth countries to take white South African migrants, he moved instead to Germany that year.[2] Temple managed to secure a job with an English-language news digest in Hamburg, falsely claiming that he could speak German.[6]

Having obtained permanent residence in Germany, he successfully applied to emigrate to Australia and in 1980 he and his wife moved to Sydney, where he worked at the Sydney Morning Herald as education editor, before moving to teach at what is now Charles Sturt University in Bathurst.[2]

In 1982 Temple moved to Melbourne to become the founding editor of Australian Society, a magazine of social issues, where he stayed until 1985. He then returned to teaching, playing a significant role in establishing the prestigious Professional Writing and Editing course at RMIT, Melbourne.[7]


In 1995 Temple retired from teaching to become a self-employed editor and full-time writer.[8] His Jack Irish novels (Bad Debts, Black Tide, Dead Point, and White Dog) are set in Melbourne, and feature an unusual lawyer-gambler protagonist. In 2012, the Australian ABC Television and the German ZDF produced the first two as feature-length films with Guy Pearce in the title role under the series title Jack Irish.[9] Temple also wrote three stand-alone novels: An Iron Rose, Shooting Star and In the Evil Day (Identity Theory in the US), as well as The Broken Shore and its semi-sequel, Truth. In 2015 he published "Ithaca in My Mind" in the Allen and Unwin Shorts series. His novels have been published in 20 countries.[10]

He wrote the screenplay for the 2007 TV film Valentine's Day[11]


In 2010, Peter Temple won the Miles Franklin Award for his novel Truth. He has also won five Ned Kelly Awards for crime fiction, the latest in 2006 for The Broken Shore, which also won the Colin Roderick Award for best Australian book and the Australian Book Publishers' Award for best general fiction. The Broken Shore also won the Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger (Gold Dagger) in 2007.[12] Temple is the first Australian to win a Gold Dagger.[13]

ABC Television broadcast an adapted telemovie of The Broken Shore on 2 February 2014.

Personal life[edit]

Temple was married to Anita and had a son, Nicholas. He died after a brief battle with cancer in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, on 8 March 2018 at the age of 71.[14]

Awards and nominations[edit]

H. R. F. Keating Award, CrimeFest Awards 2021 The Red Hand: Stories, Reflections and the Last Appearance of Jack Irish (shortlisted)[15]
Miles Franklin Award 2010 Truth (winner)
Australian Book Industry Awards Australian General Fiction Book of the Year 2006 The Broken Shore (winner)
Colin Roderick Award 2006 The Broken Shore
Duncan Lawrie Dagger 2007 The Broken Shore (winner)
Miles Franklin Award 2006 The Broken Shore (longlisted)
Ned Kelly Awards Best Novel 2006 The Broken Shore (joint winner)
2003 White Dog (winner)
2001 Dead Point (joint winner)
2000 Shooting Star (winner)
Ned Kelly Awards Best First Novel 1997 Bad Debts (joint winner)


Jack Irish novels[edit]

Other novels[edit]

Book review[edit]




  1. ^ a b c d e f Craven, Peter (3 October 2009). "THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH". Weekend Australian. p. 8.
  2. ^ a b c Steger, Jason (23 June 2010). "Truth and fiction". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  3. ^ "'The novel is about making believe your world is real': an interview with Peter Temple | Pulp Curry". Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Peter Temple - from crusty newsman to top crime novelist". Crime Beat @ Sunday Times Books LIVE. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  5. ^ Steger, Jason (23 June 2010). "Truth and fiction". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  6. ^ Obituaries, Telegraph (3 April 2018). "Peter Temple, acclaimed crime novelist – obituary". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Temple, Peter", AustLit (subscription required)
  8. ^ "Interview | Peter Temple". Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Jack Irish", ABC TV
  10. ^ Peter Temple Author. ABC website. Retrieved 20 May 2013
  11. ^ report. Retrieved 6 January 2020
  12. ^ "Aussie author wins crime writing prize"[permanent dead link], The Canberra Times, 6 July 2007]
  13. ^ Harrison (2007)
  14. ^ "Acclaimed crime writer Peter Temple dies, aged 71". Sydney Morning Herald. 11 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Richard Osman dominates shortlists at 2021 CrimeFest Awards | The Bookseller". Retrieved 14 April 2021.