Archives and Special Collections: Colin Thiele

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Colin Thiele Research Collection

The Colin Thiele Research Collection commemorates and highlights one of Australia's most prolific writers for children and dedicated educator, Dr. Colin Milton Thiele AC (1920-2006).

Colin Thiele wrote more than 100 books, many of which have been published internationally in a variety of languages.  He also made significant contributions to education in South Australia as both a secondary teacher and serving as the principal of the Wattle Park Teacher's College and Murray Park College of Advanced Education, both predecessors to the University of South Australia.

The Colin Thiele Library at the Magill campus of the University of South Australia was named in honour of Thiele and houses the Colin Thiele Research Collection.

The Collection can be explored through searching the Special Collections Catalogue or browsing Collection Discovery. Digital copies of some items are available from the Catalogue, however physical material is not available for loan. Access to the Collection is by appointment, contact Ask the Library.

Image above: Colin Thiele amongst his books. 20 June 1990, Messenger Press Photo

Explore the collection

Donated to the University of South Australia in 2000, the Colin Thiele Research Collection documents his work as an author, covering all his writing - fiction, poetry and educational resources - along with a unique collection of images, artworks and personal items.  The collection includes:

  • Copies of most of Colin Thiele's written works including fiction, poetry and education resources to which Colin Thiele contributed.  This also includes works translated into a wide range of foreign languages.
  • Original typescripts and manuscripts of Colin Thiele's work, typed with handwritten notations.
  • Audio-visual recordings of interviews, television appearances, speeches and events.
  • Newspaper and magazine articles concerning Colin Thiele and his work.
  • Educational resources based on Colin Thiele's works.
  • Items gifted to Colin Thiele from school children, friends, colleagues and admirers including artwork, cards, letters, children's stories and an impressive array of pelican themed items.
  • Production and marketing material relating to films and television shows based on Colin Thiele's work, including Storm Boy, Sun on the Stubble and Fire in the Stone.
  • Awards and certificates, including the Companion for the Order of Australia.
  • Personal items, including his typewriter and regalia from the presentation of his honorary doctorate from UniSA.

More information about Colin Thiele

   Related collections

  • National Library of Australia (TROVE)
    The National Library of Australia's collection of books, images, historic newspaper, maps, archival items and more. Search the TROVE collection for various items relating to Colin Thiele.
  • State Library of South Australia
    The State Library of South Australia Library guide, highlighting key items in the collection related to Colin Thiele and South Australian history.
  • National Film and Sound Archive
    A collection of film and sound realia, which can be searched for recordings of and relating to Colin Thiele.
  • Eudunda Family Heritage Gallery
    Located in Colin Thiele's beloved hometown, the Gallery holds information on Colin Thiele's family history as well as local tributes such as the Colin Thiele statue and historical drive.



  • Colin Thiele: His Work and Legacy (University of Canberra, 2015)
    The event ‘Colin Thiele His Work and Legacy’ was held at the Ann Harding Conference Centre on 2 June, 2015 as part of the Colin Thiele Festival, with four speakers revealing their unique insights of Mr Thiele.

Collection Highlights

Biography of Colin Thiele

Colin Thiele AC was born November 16th, 1920 in Eudunda, South Australia. Thiele graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1941 and completed a course at Adelaide Teachers College in 1942. After serving with the RAAF between 1942 and 1945, Thiele completed a Diploma of Education. He went on to teach English at Port Lincoln between 1946 and 1955.

Thiele became a lecturer at the Wattle Park Teachers' College in 1957 and became the Principal in 1965. In 1974 he became the Director of the renamed Wattle Park Teachers Centre, a precursor to the University of South Australia, until he retired in 1980. Throughout his teaching career Thiele wrote for children and became one of Australia's most popular children's authors. Thiele also wrote poetry and educational material for teachers, in the areas of English, Drama and Australian History.

Colin Thiele was the recipient of numerous awards for his work. In 1977 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his services to education and literature.

Thiele continued to write after his retirement and close to his death in 2006 at the age of 85. 

Image above: Bronze bust of Colin Thiele in the entrance of the Colin Thiele Library at the UniSA Magill Campus