Malouf was born in Brisbane, Australia, to a Christian Lebanese father and an English- Jewish mother.
He was an avid reader as a child, and at 12 years old was reading such books as Bleak House and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. These books, he says, taught him about sex: "They told you there was a life out there that was amazingly passionate". He is a graduated at Queensland University in 1955 where he lecture for a short period of time before moving to London. There he spent some years teaching but in 1968 he decided to return to Australia and lectured at the university of Sydney where he spend most of his time.
He became a full-time writer in 1978.
Many people when asked about Malouf first writings think of Johnno what is his first novel wrote in 1975, but the truth is that his first writing was his 1974 collection, Neighbours in a Thicket: Poems that first earned him a reputation as a significant new Australian talent. Winning various prizes, including the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, the book draws heavily on Malouf's own past. Neighbours in a Thicket: Poems comprises intimate memories of suburban childhood, of domestic interiors, of mother, sister and the War, of travel in Europe. * His first novel, Johnno (1975), is the semi-autobiographical tale of a young man growing up in Brisbane during the Second World War, a period in Malouf's life that he later wrote about in his memoir.
* His second novel, An Imaginary Life (1978), is a fictional life of the poet Ovid, exiled from Rome by the Emperor Augustus in 8 A.D. and sent to live in exile among the Scythians on the Black Sea
* In 1982,