Richard Flanagan was born in 1961 in Tasmania.
He left school at 16, later winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, where he took a Master of Letters degree. He later worked as a labourer and river guide.
He wrote four history books before turning to ficion writing, and has since written several novels, including: Death of a River Guide (1997), the tale of Aljaz Cosini, river guide, who lies drowning, reliving his life and the lives of his family and forebears; The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1998), which tells the story of Slovenian immigrants; and Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish (2002), winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book). This last novel is based on the life of Billy Gould, a convict artist, and tells the tale of his love affair with a young black woman in 1828. The book is printed in six different colours.
Richard Flanagan wrote and directed the film version of The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which was released in 1998, and world premiered at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for Golden Bear for Best film.
His novel, The Unknown Terrorist was published in 2007. His latest book, Wanting (2009), is set in Tasmania and England in the early nineteenth century. It has won several awards, including the 2011 Tasmania Book Prize.