Ottley, Matt 1962–

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Ottley, Matt 1962–


Born August 24, 1962, in Goroka, Papua New Guinea; son of Ian (an engineer and artist) and Jaqualine (a landscape artist; maiden name, Johnston) Ottley; immigrated to Australia, 1974; married Sarah Armstrong (a reporter), October 5, 1995. Education: Julian Ashton School of Fine Arts (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), diploma in fine arts, 1982; University of Wollongong, B.A. (music composition), 1986. Hobbies and other interests: Horseback riding, bushwalking, studying and rescuing wildlife.


Home—Northern New South Wales, Australia. Agent—c/o Lateral Learning, P.O. Box 646, Spit Junction, New South Wales 2088, Australia.


Self-employed artist, writer, and musician, beginning 1993. Formerly worked as a stockman on a cattle ranch, farm hand, landscape gardener, and waiter. Guest speaker and teacher in schools on creativity. Artist-in-residence and lecturer at schools and workshops. Exhibitions: Work included in Upstairs Gallery, Cairns, Australia; Noella Burn Gallery and Barry Stern Galleries, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Customs House Gallery, Warnambook, Australia; Fremantle Children's Literature Centre, Fremantle, Australia; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and Bond Street Gallery and Tryon Gallery, London, England.


Australian Society of Authors, Children's Book Council of Australia.

Awards, Honors

Children's Book Council of Australia Award (CBCA) Honor Book, 2000, for Luke's Way of Looking; CBCA shortlist, 2001, for Faust's Party.



Albert's Rainy Day, Hodder & Stoughton (Kew East, Victoria, Australia), 1987.

What Faust Saw, Hodder Headline (Rydalmere, New South Wales, Australia), 1995, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.

Mrs. Millie's Painting, Hodder Headline (Rydalmere, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

Faust's Party, Hodder Headline (Rydalmere, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Faust in Space, Hachette Livre (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

Requiem for a Beat, Lothian Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

Ottley's work has been translated into other languages, including French, German, Dutch, and Hebrew.


Venomous Wildlife, Golden Press, 1983.

Dinosaurs, Golden Press, 1983.

Ancient Australia, Golden Press, 1983.

Explorers, Golden Press, 1983.

Brian Mackness, Please Don't Feed the Animals, Ashton Scholastic (Gosford, New South Wales, Australia), 1984.

Brian Mackness, Prehistoric Australia, Golden Press, 1987.

Wade Hughes, Exploring Australia by Land, Horwitz Grahame (Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia), 1987.

Wade Hughes, Exploring Ancient Australia by Land, Horwitz Grahame (Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia), 1988.

Colin Thompson, Sailing Home, Hodder & Stoughton (Kew East, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

Nadia Wheatley, Luke's Way of Looking, Hodder & Stoughton (Rydalmere, New South Wales, Australia), 1999, Kane/Miller (La Jolla, CA), 2001.

Brian Caswell, Hyram and B., Hodder Headline (Rydalmere, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Josie Montano, The Bubble, Lothian Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Josie Montano, Little Penguin, Lothian Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

Gary Crew, The Serpent's Tale, Lothian Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

John Marsden, Hollania, Lothian Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2007.


In addition to participating in numerous exhibits both in his native Australia and internationally, Matt Ottley has also become known for his children's book illustrations, as well as his original self-illustrated stories. "I began writing and illustrating my own books at about the age of five," Ottley once told SATA. "My mother taught me how to bind paper together, and I used it to make my own books…. Thinking up stories and illustrating them has always been a part of my life. I can't remember making a decision to do it as a career; it just happened." Among Ottley's many books are Albert's Rainy Day, Mrs Millie's Painting, and several books featuring a dog named Faust. Regarding his illustrations for Nadia Wheatley's award-winning Luke's Way of Looking, a story about an innovative young artist that School Library Journal reviewer Ruth Semrau noted that they will inspire "students who have difficulty with conformity."

In Ottley's critically acclaimed What Faust Saw, readers meet a watchdog named Faust who has what School Library Journal reviewer Jane Claes called "a close encounter of the best kind." Faust discovers a flying saucer one night behind his owners' house and dutifully warns the family, only to be scolded and banished to the backyard, where he is terrorized by a variety of bizarre space creatures. Faust runs away, followed by the crazy aliens, embarking on what Claes called a "rib-tickling adventure … and a surefire hit for story times." Ottley's good-natured canine returns in Faust's Party, where his job to protect the family home presents him with some daunting challenges, as well as Faust in Space.

A magical story brimming with creative zeal and a love of nature, Mrs Millie's Painting introduces readers to Mrs Millie, a lovable gray-haired woman who loves all sorts of exotic flowers, but has no garden of her own. Instead, she paints pictures of plants and flowers, and even attempts to enter her simple potted windowsill ge-raniums in a local flower show. In a Magpies review, Ricki Blackhall called the book "a magnificent production" in which "Ottley has created music in pictures and words."

Ottley is most highly praised for the detailed paintings with which he illustrates his stories. According to a contributor to Every Child, the author/illustrator's childhood in Papua New Guinea and his mother's work as a landscape painter "influenced his art—particularly in terms of colour and the fantastic description of tropical foliage." Highly sought after as an illustrator of picture-book texts, he has also created artwork for many nature-centered titles, among them Please Don't Feed the Animals by Brian Mackness and Exploring Ancient Australia by Wade Hughes.

As Ottley once told SATA: "I like to include subtextual themes in my picture books, so that they have different layers and meanings to them. I believe that picture books are not only for children, but for adults as well." While his works have appeal for all ages, Ottley explained to the writer for Every Child that, when creating books, "I can let the child in me loose. I can abandon being an adult for a while and do what I really want to do—go out and play!"

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, June 1, 1996, p. 1736.

Every Child, spring, 1997, "Some Fabulous Journeys," p. 9.

Magpies, November, 1997, Ricki Blackhall, review of Mrs. Millie's Painting, p. 16; September, 2000, review of Faust's Party, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, May 13, 1996, p. 76; November 5, 2001, review of Luke's Way of Looking, p. 68.

Scan, May, 2002, "Beneath the Skin" (artist profile).

School Library Journal, June, 1996, Jane Claes, review of What Faust Saw, p. 107; June, 2002, Ruth Semrau, review of Luke's Way of Looking, p. 115.


Matt Ottley Home (June, 3, 2006).

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Ottley, Matt 1962–

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