Thompson was educated at boarding school in Yorkshire and grammar school in West London, before spending two years at art school in Ealing and Hammersmith. He studied ceramics and worked as a silk screen painter and graphic designer. He then studied film making for a year and worked for the BBC creating documentaries. In the late 1960s Thompson moved to the Outer Hebrides islands off Scotland and then moved to Cumbria in 1975 where he specialised in ceramics.
Thompson started writing and illustrating children's books in 1990 . His first two books, Ethel the Chicken and A Giant Called Norman Mary were illustrated in black and white and published in 1991 by Hodder & Stoughton. His first picture book was The Paperbag Prince, published by Julia MacRae in 1992. In 1993 Random House published Looking for Atlantis,the first of his picture books with elaborate visual details.
In 1994, when an Australian teacher-librarian read this book to a Year 7 class of boys, they asked if Thompson could visit their school and raised funds towards the cost of his flight. Thompson subsequently settled near Coffs Harbour, later becoming an Australian citizen.
Until 2002 Thompson's illustrations were on hard surfaced line board, rather than paper. The board allowed Thompson to develop a technique where he could lift colour off and work over an illustration again and again without the surface breaking up. Since 2002 he has been illustrating his books by computer.
Thompson's works published after his arrival in Australia are indexed in AustLit.
Awards for Works
Stanley2016single work children's fiction children's
'From the creator of FEARLESS comes a new canine tale. 'It was very quiet in Stanley's house. there were no brothers or sisters, no dads or grannies, not even a cat, a budgie or a goldfish.' Stanley lives with his human, Gerald, and Gerald's mum. Life is peaceful, but sometimes Stanley feels quite lonely ... But then one day another dog steals his favourite red rubber ball at his park, and sets in motion a chain of events that will change Stanley's life forever. Ages: 3-7' (Publication summary)
Fearless in Love2011single work picture book children's The only thing Fearless could remember his mother telling him was, 'Life is much nicer if you love everyone.' But loving everyone is much more complicated than Fearless had imagined. Until he meets Primrose...(Libraries Australia).
The Bicycle2011single work picture book children's 'In 2008, Colin Thompson visited Cambodia with Save the Children. Struck by the way the humble bicycle was central to so many people lives, he was inspired to create The Bicycle, his second picture book for the charity.
The Bicycle features separate illustrations from internationally acclaimed artists - including Quentin Blake, Shaun Tan, Tony Ross and Freya Blackwood - which celebrate the liberating joy of two wheels. Sprinkled throughout are delightful quotes from famous people, as well as quotes from Cambodian children such as 14-year-old Dany, who describes his bicycle as his ′best friend′.
All royalties from the sale of The Bicycle will go to Save the Children, an organisation that works to improve the quality of children′s lives around the world.' (Publisher's blurb)