Biography of Colin Thiele
Colin Milton Thiele AC was an Australian author and educator. He was renowned for his award-winning children's fiction, most notably the novels Storm Boy, Blue Fin, the Sun on the Stubble series, and February Dragon.
Thiele was born in Eudunda in South Australia to a Barossa German family. The young Colin only spoke German until he went to school in Julia Creek. He was educated at several country schools including Kapunda High School before studying at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1941. He later taught in high schools and colleges.
Thiele enlisted in the Australian Army in December 1940, and was posted to the 18th Light Horse (Machine Gun) as a private. He transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in July 1942, serving out the remainder of the war as a corporal posted to Air Defence Headquarters, Higgins.
Thiele wrote more than 100 books, which often described life in rural Australia, particularly the Eudunda, Barossa Valley, and Murray River/Coorong regions of South Australia. Several of his books have been made into films or television series, including Sun on the Stubble, The Fire in the Stone, Blue Fin, Storm Boy and Maneater Man.
In 1977 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, the second highest level of the order, for his services to literature and education.
Thiele suffered from severe arthritis from 1955 and in his later years left South Australia to settle in warmer conditions near Dayboro, Queensland.
In 1986 he returned to South Australia for a family (the Wittwer family) reunion organised by Cheryal Wittwer, after which he returned to Queensland.
On 4 September 2006 Thiele died from heart failure in a Brisbane hospital, aged 85. He was survived by his wife, Rhonda, two children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he had died on the same day as Australian media personality Steve Irwin.
Thiele's literary works ranged from the early 20th century until the very early 21st century until just prior to his death in September 2006. The primary component of Thiele's work was children's literature and educational support for teachers,other authors, primarily educating in the areas of English, Drama and Australian history.
Bird In The Classroom
The students drowsed and drowned
in the Teacher's ponderous monotone -
limp bodies loping in the wordy heat,
melted and run together, desk and flesh as one.
swooning and swimming in a sea of drone.
Each one asleep, swayed and vaguely drifted
with lidded eyes and lolling weighted heads,
were caught on heavy waves and dimly lifted,