Colin Milton Thiele AC was born the 16th of November 1920 in Eudunda South Australia, to a Barossa German family.
As a boy Colin only spoke German, until he began school at Julia Creek. His German heritage and rural Australian upbringing are recurring themes in several of his books.
A successful student, Colin attended the Eudunda Higher Primary School and Kapunda High School before moving to Adelaide to attend University.
Photograph of Colin Thiele as a student at the University of Adelaide.
Colin Thiele attended the University of Adelaide, boarding at the Lutheran Seminary while working towards his Arts degree. He eventually decided on a career in teaching and graduated in 1941, initially working for a short time for the Education Department.
The Colin Thiele Research Collection features Thiele's personal copy ofThe Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, used when he studied English at the University of Adelaide. The inside cover of this book features Colin Thiele's name written in his own hand.
Letter from Colin Thiele to nephew Lester Mackenzie (Click to view larger version)
Letter from Lester Mackenzie to the UniSA Library
(Click to view larger image)
Colin Thiele's nephew Lester Mackenzie donated the book to the University of South Australia in 2000 after discovering it at the old Thiele farm near Eudunda, South Australia. The donation included a letter from Colin to his nephew reflecting on his time studying English and how the subject has changed since then.
Colin Thiele and his wife Rhonda Gill
With the onset of World War 2, Thiele joined the RAAF, serving as a corporal in Darwin, Melville Island, Townsville, Cape York and New Guinea. After the war, he returned to teaching, first at Unley High School in Adelaide and then in Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula.
During the War, Colin Thiele met fellow teacher and artist Rhonda Gill, whom he married in 1945. Rhonda also developed a successful teaching career. They have two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Colin Thiele died September 4th 2006 aged 85 and is buried in Dayboro, Queensland. His legacy continues to touch the hearts and lives of people around the world.