Mark "Chopper" Read, one of Australia's most notorious criminals who also found fame as an author, has died of liver cancer in a Melbourne hospital aged 58.

Diagnosed with the terminal illness in April 2012, Read later had tumours removed but was admitted to hospital again last month.

After a troubled childhood, Read started his criminal career robbing drug dealers and was convicted of armed robbery, assault and kidnapping, among his long list of offences.

During his time in prison, he convinced a fellow inmate to slice off his ears with a razor blade so he could transfer to a different unit.

His notoriety inspired Chopper, an award-winning Australian film starring Eric Bana, which was released in 2000 and based on Read's autobiographical books.

Having served more than 23 years in prison, Read reformed to become a best-selling author of fictional crime novels and a media personality.