Arthur Bryce Courtenay (born 14 August 1933) is a South-African-born naturalized Australian novelist. Born in Johannesburg, Courtenay spent most of his early years in a small village in the Lebombo Mountains in South Africa's Limpopo province.
In 1955, while studying journalism in London, Bryce met his future wife, Benita, and eventually emigrated to Australia. They married in 1959 and had three sons, Brett, Adam and Damon. Bryce entered the advertising industry and over a career spanning 34 years was the Creative Director of McCann Erickson, J. Walter Thompson & George Patterson Advertising. In 1991, Damon (who was born with the blood condition haemophilia) died at age 27 from AIDS, contracted through a blood transfusion.
Bryce divorced Benita in 2000 and has acknowledged some indiscretions during their 42-year marriage. He now lives in Bowral, New South Wales, with his partner, Christine Gee. Benita Courtenay died on 11 March 2007, at the age of 72, four months after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
His novels are primarily set in either Australia, his adopted country, or South Africa, the country of his birth. His first book, The Power of One, was published in 1989 and, despite Courtenay's fears that it would never sell, quickly became one of Australia's best-selling books by any living author. The story has since been made into a film—as well as being re-released in an edition for children
Bryce Courtenay is one of Australia's most commercially successful authors. He has built up this success over the long-term by promoting himself and developing a relationship with readers as much as marketing his books; for instance, he gives away up to 2,500 books free each year to readers he meets in the street. However, only The Power of One has been published in the United States. Courtenay claims that this is because "American publishers for the most part have difficulties about Australia, they are interested in books in their own country first and foremost. However, we receive many e-mails and letters from Americans who have read my books and I am hoping in the future that publishers will recognize that there is a market for all my books in the U.S."
In 2010, he was honored on an Australian postage stamp.