He was born in Kensington, London, to Augusta Amherst Austen and Thomas Anstey Guthrie. He was educated at King's College London and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and was called to the bar in 1880. But the popular success of his story Vice Versa (1882) with its topsyturvy substitution of a father for his schoolboy son, at once made his reputation as a humorist of an original type. He published in 1883 a serious novel, The Giant's Robe; but, in spite of its excellence, he discovered (and again in 1889 with The Pariah) that it was not as a serious novelist but as a humorist that the public insisted on regarding him. As such his reputation was further confirmed by The Black Poodle (1884), The Tinted Venus (1885), A Fallen Idol (1886), and other works. Baboo Jabberjee B.A. (1897) , and A Bayard from Bengal (1902) are humorous yet truthful studies of the East Indian with a veneer of English civilization.New International Encyclopedia
Guthrie became an important member of the staff of Punch magazine, in which his voces populi and his humorous parodies of a reciter's stock-piece (Burglar Bill, &c.) represent his best work. In 1901 his successful farce The Man from Blankleys, based on a story which originally appeared in Punch, was first produced at the Prince of Wales Theatre, in London. He wrote Only Toys (1903) and Salted Almonds (1906).New International Encyclopedia
Vice Versa has been filmed many times, usually transposed in setting and without any credit to the original book. The book Freaky Friday (1972, Mary Rogers) is based on it, as, essentially, are all the 'Body Swap' science fiction or magic plots. This puts Guthrie into the exalted company of writers such as H G Wells, being responsible for a whole literary sub-genre.
Another of his novels, The Brass Bottle, has also been filmed more than once, most recently in a then-very updated version in 1964. This latest version starred Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, and Burl Ives as a Green Djinn who turns Randall's life upside down, but it led the same year to the idea of Barbara Eden being cast in the title role in the hit TV series I Dream of Jeannie.