One of Australia’s most prolific writers, Peter Corris, has died in his sleep at the age of 76.
A published writer for almost 40 years, Corris was an academic, journalist and former literary editor of The National Times, in addition to being a popular novelist.
His first book was published in 1980, the first of 102 books in total, most of them novels. That figure includes foreign editions.
Corris is best known for the series that book-ended his career, that of private detective Cliff Hardy.
American publisher McGraw published the debut Cliff Hardy novel, The Dying Trade, in 1980.
Corris’s final book published last year was also a Cliff Hardy novel: Win, Lose or Draw.
“He was a really positive person, cheerful, unlike most authors. He was humble, not at all full of ego,” his friend Kathy Gollan said.
In addition to 52 Cliff Hardy books, the longest Australian publishing series of its kind, Corris wrote collaborative biographies with Philip Nitschke, Fred Hollows, John Sinclair and Ray Barrett.
— Tim Ayliffe (@TimJAyliffe) August 30, 2018
In 2000 he published an autobiography that tackled his relationship with chronic illness, Sweet and Sour: A Diabetic Life.
Corris was born in Stawell, in western Victoria, and his family moved to Melbourne when he was five.
After an education at Melbourne High School, then Melbourne and Monash universities, he entered academia but became enchanted by the idea of writing detective fiction during a trip to the US in 1970.
A huge loss. Peter is a legend of crime-fiction and was a master at depicting the sly underbelly beneath the fake glitz of Sydney. I suspect his passing will be well honoured by all of those at the @BadCrimeSydney festival on this weekend. #RIP #CliffHardy #PeterCorris https://t.co/wNTTLcRvau
— Serkan Ozturk (@SerkanTheWriter) August 30, 2018
By 1976 he had settled in Sydney, where journalism underpinned his fledgling career as a novelist.
His final “job” was as literary editor of The National Times in 1979-80, after which he mostly wrote books.
Allen and Unwin was Corris’s principal publisher. His other series, in addition to Cliff Hardy, were the Ray Crawly, Richard Browning and Luke Dunlop novels.
Despite his prolific career and popularity, Corris failed to translate his three nominations and two short-listings into a Ned Kelly Award for crime fiction.
Nonetheless he collected the Ned Kelly Award for lifetime achievement in 1999.
Corris was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes at 16 and in the past year succumbed to blindness, which forced him to stop writing.
“He loved writing. He didn’t agonise over it like some people do. He wrote quickly and was sad to stop,” Ms Gollan said.
Corris spoke to ABC Canberra in January 2017 about his final book and his failing eyesight.
“My eyesight, which has been poor for a long time, dropped suddenly and made it just too difficult, too stressful, too painful, really, to write any more,” he said.
“I can still get around and do most things … but things like writing and reading and so on have just become too difficult.”
Corris is survived by his wife, the writer Jean Bedford, daughters Sofya Gollan, Miriam Corris and Ruth Corris, and seven grandchildren.