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Barry Dickins
Born 6 November 1949 (1949-11-06) (age 73)
Reservoir, Melbourne
  • Playwright
  • author
  • artist
  • actor
  • educator
  • journalist
Nationality Australian
Notable works Remember Ronald Ryan
Spouse Sarah Mogridge (div. 2008)
Children Louis Dickins

Barry Dickins (born 6 November 1949) is a prolific Australian playwright, author, artist, actor, educator and journalist, probably best known for his historical dramas and his reminisces about growing up and living in working class Melbourne. His most well-known work is the award-winning stage play Remember Ronald Ryan, a dramatization of the life and subsequent death of Ronald Ryan, the last man executed in Australia. He has also written dramas and comedies about other controversial figures such as poet Sylvia Plath, opera singer Joan Sutherland, criminal Squizzy Taylor, actor Frank Thring, playwright Oscar Wilde and artist Brett Whiteley.

Dickins primarily writes for Australia's independent theatre scene, frequently collaborating with La Mama Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, The Pram Factory, Griffin Theatre Company, fortyfivedownstairs and St Martin Youth Theatre.


Dickins was born in the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir. Leaving school early he worked for five years in a factory in North Melbourne, and then as a set-painter for television programs being produced at Channel 7. Through his association with La Mama Theatre, his first play, a translation of Ibsen's Ghosts, was performed in 1974. He has written a further 50 since then, along with numerous short stories, biographies, opinion pieces, essays and children's books. His play, Remember Ronald Ryan, won him the 1995 Victorian Premier's Literary Award. He had a long career as an educator, spending 41 years teaching English and creative writing at various schools in Melbourne (including Scotch College, Melbourne Grammar and West Preston Primary School). His experiences in the classroom served the basis for his 2013 memoirs, Lessons in Humility: 40 years of teaching.

Dickins has made numerous appearances on the stage and on the screen. His first acting role was in Barry Oakley's The Ship's Whistles, which was staged in 1978 at the Pram Factory Front Theatre, under the direction of Paul Hampton. Since then he has appeared in: Paul Cox's Man of Flowers (1983); James Clayden's With Time to Kill (1987); Brian McKenzie's With Love to the Person Next to Me (1987); Paul Cox's The Gift (1988; Paul Cox's Golden Braid (1990) (which Dickins also co-wrote); Brian McKenzie's People Who Still Use Milk Bottles (1990); Frank Howson's Flynn (1993); and Elise McCredie's Strange Fits of Passion (1999). He also had guest roles on the television shows Winners (1985) and Wedlocked (1995)

In 1985, he appeared in a revival of Graeme Blundell's Balmain Boys Don't Cry (renamed The Balmain Boys) at the Kinsela's Cabaret Theatre in Darlinghurst, New South Wales. His most recent stage performance was recent a dramatic reading of the monologue, Ryan (a continuation of his earlier work Remember Ronald Ryan), which was performed as part of a QandA event held at Melbourne based bookshop, Collected Works.

In 2009, he published his memoirs Unparalleled Sorrow, which discusses his career and his battle with depression.

2015 saw the publication by Black Pepper publishing of A Line Drawing of My Father, a memoir of the authors' father Len Dickins who served in the Second World War and was a commercial printer thereafter. It also gives a portrait of the working class northern suburbs of Melbourne.

In 2015, Dickins became a Writer-in-Residence and Creative Writing lecturer at Victoria University in Footscray, Melbourne. He held the position for less than 12 months, before being unexpectedly let go by the campus coordinators during the Christmas break.

In June 2017 Dickins was found guilty of making a false police report after claiming officers had conducted an improper strip search upon him. The Magistrate remarked of Dickins' report "for reasons which I truly cannot fathom, Mr Dickins invented a set of facts, which were not true and, in my view, he knew them not to be true". For this Dickins was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded. His then employer, The Sunday Age, was later found to have breached Australian Press Council principles in light of their publication of Dickens' account of the alleged police misconduct.

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