A.B. Facey was born in 1894 and grew up on the Kalgoorlie goldfields and in the wheatbelt of Western Australia. His father died before he was two and he was deserted by his mother soon afterwards. He was looked after by his grandmother until he was eight years old, when he went out to work. He had no formal education, and taught himself to read and write. He made the first notes on his life soon after World War I, and filled notebooks with his accounts of his experiences. He died in 1982, nine months after A Fortunate Life had been published to wide acclaim.