National Library of Australia
He was born in Sydney, the son of a bank manager,Philip O'Brien, "Spinning words of gold", The Canberra Times, 26 February 2000, Panorama, p. 12 and educated at Kempsey High School, and Scots Collegetext publishing in Warwick, Queensland and then graduated BA from the University of Sydney. He joined The Sydney Morning Herald as a journalist in 1947 and worked there for the next 40 years, serving as a correspondent in New York and London and later as an Assistant Editor of The Herald.
In 1960 Souter was awarded the W.G. Walkley National Award for Australian Journalism.
His books have included New Guinea: The Last Unknown (1963); A Peculiar People (1968), an account of the New Australia settlement in Paraguay; The Idle Hill of Summer: an Australian Childhood 1939-1945 (1972); Lion & Kangaroo: The Initiation of Australia 1901-1919 (1976). A history of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands since 1827 was rejected by John Clunies-Ross as not reflecting his own post-war recollections.
In 1983 he was commissioned by the Federal Parliamentary Library to write a narrative history of the Parliament of Australia to commemorate the Bicentenary of European occupation of Australia in 1988. This was entitled Acts of Parliament.
He also wrote two histories of John Fairfax Limited: Company of Heralds (1981), which won the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies award; and Heralds and Angels: the House of Fairfax 1841-1990 (1992), which won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award.
He was Vice President of the Australian Society of Authors 1975-78, Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Films Board of Review 1981-84, and is Patron of Mosman Historical Society.
His wife of 62 years, Ngaire (née Avison), died on 26 July 2014. He has two daughters, Anne and Gretel, and one grand-daughter, Rachel Blackburn.
Souter was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1988,
It's an Honour: AM and raised to Officer level (AO) in 1995.It's an Honour: AO He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001.It's an Honour: Centenary Medal