Born: Established: 20 Aug 1914 London ; Died: 22 Apr 1976 Kent
Son of author Angela Thirkell and brother of memoirist Graham McInnes (qq.v.), Colin MacInnes arrived in Australia with his mother, stepfather and brother in the troop ship Friedrichsruh in 1920. According to Colin MacInnes's biographer, Tony Gould, his Australian childhood influenced MacInnes. Two of his novels are set in Victoria. MacInnes, Gould writes, was concerned with a timeless, 'romantic' Australia, the Australia - and Australians - of myth and legend (Inside Outsider, p.25).
MacInnes was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, Victoria, and at the age of 16 in 1930 won a senior scholarship to the University of Melbourne and a Victoria State Exhibition in Economics. However, the departure from Australia of his mother and half-brother, Lance Thirkell, meant family life in Melbourne was disrupted. MacInnes followed his mother to England in 1930.
During World War II MacInnes served in the Intelligence Corps and wrote his first novel, To the Victors the Spoils (MacGibbon & Kee, 1950), based on his wartime experiences. His second novel, June in Spring (MacGibbon & Kee, 1952), is the first of his two published Australian novels. After the war he joined BBC radio, writing some 1500 radio scripts.
MacInnes returned to Australia briefly in 1964 to research Australia and New Zealand (Time, 1964) for the series Life World Library. On his return to England, MacInnes reworked an earlier radio play manuscript, The Baileys, into his second published Australian novel All Day Saturday (MacGibbon & Kee, 1965).
MacInnes also wrote on the Australian painter Sidney Nolan, contributing 'The search for an Australian myth in painting' in the monograph Sidney Nolan by Kenneth Clark, Colin MacInnes and Bryan Robertson. (Thames and Hudson, 1961). His other works include the 'London' novels, City of Spades (1957), Absolute Beginners (1950) and Mr Love and Justice (1960), all published by MacGibbon & Kee. Some of his essays, including those about Australia, orginally published in various English periodicals, were republished in England Half English (MacGibbon & Kee, 1961). MacInnes died of cancer in 1976 and was buried at sea off Folkestone, England.