Colin Thiele Colin Thiele i(A13687 works by) (a.k.a. Colin Milton Thiele; C. M. Thiele)
Also writes as: Phoenix
Born: Established: 16 Nov 1920 Eudunda, Burra - Eudunda area, Mid North South Australia, South Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 4 Sep 2006 Brisbane, Queensland,
Gender: Male
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Colin Thiele was a bilingual child in a German farming community and from a young age read widely in both German and English. His parents were Carl Wilhelm and Amalie Anna (nee Wittwer) Thiele. He attended Julia and Eudunda primary schools and Kapunda high school. Henry Lawson (q.v.) was an early influence on his writing as Thiele could relate to the rural characters and settings of While the Billy Boils. He enrolled at the University of Adelaide in 1937, forming lasting friendships with the poets Rex Ingamells, Max Harris, Flexmore Hudsonwi), Geoffrey Dutton, Paul Pfeiffer and D.B. Kerr (qq.v.), and seeing some of his early poems published in Jindyworobak Anthologies, Angry Penguins and Poetry. Thiele graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1941 and then served as a radar mechanic in northern Australia with the RAAF during the Second World War. His teaching career began in Port Lincoln in 1946 and led to his appointment as principal of Wattle Park Teachers' College, Adelaide, in 1965. At university Thiele had been impressed by the teaching excellence and dedication of Douglas Mawson, an inspiration for his own highly regarded reputation as an educator.

Thiele combined his professional life as a teacher and speaker with his prolific writing of poetry, fiction, children's books, biography, radio plays and educational texts. Most of his books are set in South Australia, although his concerns are universal. Among his best known children's books are Storm Boy (1963) and Blue Fin (1969) - both of which were made into films.

Thiele's childhood is evident in many books, including The Sun on the Stubble (1961), later made into an award-winning television series. Thiele wrote and edited over 100 books, saying that he had 'a particular affection' for Storm Boy, Pinquo, Jodie's Journey, Blue Fin, Coorong and Heysen of Hahndorf, because in their writing he came closest to 'getting it right'.

Known as an environmentalist, Thiele wrote several books about endangered Australian locations, including Coorong (1972) and Range Without Man : The North Flinders (1974). Many of his books have been translated and published abroad. In 1977 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to literature and education. Thiele was known as a faithful correspondent: he received and answered thousands of letters from children, kept at the National Library and the University of South Australia. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the 1950s, Thiele had many joint replacement operations and settled in Queensland with his wife Rhonda in 1993. He continued writing until close to the time of his death.

Thiele was chosen as one of 150 great South Australians by a panel of The Advertiser senior writers to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Advertiser newspaper, 12 April 2008.

Most Referenced Works


  • For information about Thiele titles outside the scope of AustLit, refer to the Colin Thiele Research Collection, University of South Australia:
  • The Colin Thiele Research Collection at the University of South Australia (Magill Campus) holds significant Thiele papers beyond the collection at the National Library.

Awards for Works

High Valley 1996 single work children's fiction children's

High Valley is a sleepy, remote town. The soil is rich, the rainfall heavy, the climate warm, the farms and gardens green, the people happy ... until the arrival of two strangers changes their lives forever ...

1997 winner The Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's Literature 'Colin Thiele was honoured not only for High Valley, but also for his numerous other children's books with an environmental ethic - the environmental equivalent, you might say, of Oscar's Lifetime Achievement Award.' (Wilderness Society website)
Jodie's Journey 1988 single work novel young adult 'Twelve-year-old Jodie, disabled by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and no longer able to ride her beloved horse Monarch, faces a crisis when the two of them are alone at her remote Australia home and a devastating fire approaches'. (Source: Trove.)
2004 YABBA Hall of Fame
1993 winner CROW Award Years 6-7 favourite
1990 winner Western Australian Young Readers' Book Award Avis Page Award
1989 commended Australian Family Therapists' Award for Children's Literature
Last amended 26 Sep 2016 10:23:01
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