Peter Robb (born 1946) is an Australian author, who has also written under the pen names B. Selkie and Ross Edwards.

Early life and education

Robb was born 1946 in Toorak, Melbourne. He spent his early years in Australia and was educated in New Zealand.[1]

As a young man he was involved in a small Trotskyist organisation named the Communist League, which was sympathetic to the Fourth International, between 1972 and 1976.[2] Robb helped produced its newspaper, Militant, and was also key in the departure of a section of the Communist League's leadership, through absorption by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1976. The group was co-founded by Queensland doctor John McCarthy (1948–2008), who played a major role in integrating the CL and the SWP,[3] and activist and later academic Marcia Langton was the third member of the CL committee.[4] McCarthy broke away from the SWP (then Socialist Workers League) to create CL, and then, along with Robb and Langton, rejoined the SWP four years later, in November 1976.[2]


Robb left Australia for Europe in 1971, working there for several years before returning to Australia. He moved to Italy in 1978 and spent 15 years there, living much of the time in Naples[1] and southern Italy, interspersed with sojourns to Brazil. At the end of 1992 he returned to Sydney. His experiences in southern Italy were recounted in his first book, Midnight in Sicily (1996).[5][6]

His second book, M, a biography of the Italian artist Caravaggio, was published in Australia in 1998, and went on to provoke controversy when it was published in Britain two years later.[7][clarification needed]

In December 1999, he published Pig's Blood and Other Fluids, a collection of three crime fiction novellas.[7]

In October 2003, Robb published his fourth book, A Death in Brazil.[7]

In October 2010, his book Street Fight in Naples was published by Allen & Unwin.[citation needed]

Some of his works were written under the pen names B. Selkie and Ross Edwards.[1]


Robb has taught at the University of Melbourne, the University of Oulu in Finland, and the Istituto Universitario Orientale in Naples.[7]

Recognition and awards

Selected works




  1. ^ a b c d "Peter Robb". AustLit. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Whither the Communist League?" (PDF). Australasian Spartacist: 6. December 1976.
  3. ^ "Vale John McCarthy, 1948". Green Left. 8 November 2008. Archived from the original on 24 October 2023. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  4. ^ "More Communist League members join SWP" (PDF). Direct Action: 13. 16 December 1976. Their joining forces with the SWP followed the fusion on November 20 [1976] of three other former leaders of the CL, John McCarthy, Peter Robb, and Marcia Langton,...
  5. ^ Robb, P. (1999). Midnight in Sicily. Vintage departures. Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-375-70458-1. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  6. ^ "Midnight in Sicily" (catalogue entry). Trove. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d "Peter Robb". Duffy & Snellgrove. 26 January 2001. Archived from the original on 6 September 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  8. ^ Peter Robb at the State Library of Victoria [dead link]
  9. ^ Online version is titled "Art Gallery NSW's Michael Brand".