Colin Thiele: Biography & Books

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Colin Thiele was a twentieth century Australian children's fiction author. He wrote ''Storm Boy'' and many other books. In this lesson, we learn about his life and some of his best-known work.


Australian author Colin Thiele made many significant contributions to children's literature during his life. In fact, he was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 1977 for his work as a writer and educator. Thiele wrote plenty of books, over 100 in fact, including Storm Boy, a children's novel about a boy who saves three pelican chicks. Thiele truly was one of Australia's best and most well respected authors. In this lesson, we will learn about his life and some of his best books.

Early Life

Colin Thiele was born on November 16, 1920 in South Australia. His family was German, and he didn't learn English until he entered primary school. He was just a regular kid who went to school, but he showed a tremendous amount of creativity. In 1941, Thiele graduated from the University of Adelaide and went on to be an educator. He fell in love with teaching children, and he began putting his creative ideas to use by writing children's fiction and books on education.


After serving in the Australian military, Thiele taught in Port Lincoln in South Australia. He began his writing career as a textbook author there. He wrote books on the geography of Australia and the South Pacific largely because he could not find adequate textbooks for his classes.

From there, he began writing children's books for a variety of age groups. He wrote Sun on the Stubble, published in 1961. The book is about a German immigrant family living in South Australia and reads a lot like Thiele's childhood . Not only did Thiele write novels, he wrote plays, poetry, and short stories for children. Thiele often wrote stories about young boys who must overcome a great obstacle to see what type of person they truly are on the inside.

Storm Boy

Storm Boy, published in 1963, is one of Thiele's most-remembered children's novels. The book centers around a young boy who finds three pelican chicks left to die after their mother was shot. The boy graciously saves the chicks and releases them into nature when they are old enough. One of the birds returns to the boy.

The main conflict centers around the boy and his father, because they do not agree on how the world should be. Themes include society, nature, family, and the importance of education.

The Fire in the Stone

Like many of Colin Thiele's books, The Fire in the Stone is an adventure book that follows a young boy, Ernie. Ernie goes after a thief who has taken the opal from his poor family's opal mine. The book is about struggle, perseverance, and learning one's strengths.

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