Both his parents were of Cornish origin and he himself has stated that his background is Cornish. This led the Cornish writer and historian A.L. Rowse to write, "Bob Hawke's characteristics are as Cornish as Australian. I know them well: the aggressive individualism, the egoism, the touchiness, the liability to resentment, even a touch of vindictiveness."
Mr. Hawke was born in Bordertown, South Australia, Australia, on December 9, 1929. the second child of Arthur Hawke (1898-1989) (known as Clem), a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Edith (known as Ellie), a schoolteacher. His uncle, Albert, was the Labor Premier of Western Australia between 1953–1959 and was also a close friend of Prime Minister John Curtin, who was in many ways Bob Hawke's role model.
Mr. Hawke's elder brother Neil, who was seven years his senior, died at the age of seventeen after contracting meningitis, for which there was no cure at the time. Ellie Hawke subsequently developed an almost messianic belief in her son's destiny, and this contributed to Mr. Hawke's supreme self-confidence throughout his career. At the age of fifteen, he presciently boasted to friends that he would one day become the Prime Minister of Australia.