de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
The University of Southern Mississippi

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Creator: Colin Thiele
Title: Colin Thiele Papers
Dates: 1973-1990
Dates: [bulk 1973-1987]
Quantity: 2.70 cubic feet (8 boxes)
Identification: DG0976

Abstract: Colin Thiele (pronounced Tee-lee) was one of Australia's most versatile, prolific, and honored writers. His best-known works are children's novels, usually set in the rural wilds of his native South Australia. Thiele often wrote stories with sea themes, usually involving adolescents whose lives are changed by some hardship challenging their notion of security. The Thiele Papers contain correspondence and material related to the American editions of eight children's books, arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within each title.

Biographical Note

Born in Eudunda, South Australia in 1920, Colin Thiele (pronounced Tee-lee) holds a place of honor in Australian literature. His works encompass both fiction and non-fiction, but he is best known as the author of children's literature. The son of first-generation German-Australians, Thiele spent much of his childhood patrolling the rural countryside of his native South Australia, contributing to his lifelong interest in the environment. Many of his children's books are based on his childhood environs, particularly The Sun on the Stubble, The Valley Between, and The Shadow on the Hills.

After receiving education degrees from the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Teacher's College, Thiele joined the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. He taught English at South Australia's Port Lincoln High School after the war and remained on staff until 1955. His time as teacher and administrator there provided the background for several more books, including Blue Fin and Hammerhead Light. Thiele moved on to Wattle Park College in South Australia in 1957, and remained associated with that institution in either a teaching or administrative capacity until his retirement in 1980.

Several Thiele children's books have been made into films, television series, or plays. The film version of Storm Boy, about a boy's love for his pet pelican, won the Netherlands Award of the Silver Pencil in 1986. In 1972 the Hans Christian Andersen Award selected Blue Fin, a tale of tuna fishing, as an honor book. The story became a movie five years later. A top-rated television miniseries was based on The Sun on the Stubble, Thiele's first full-length children's book, written in 1958 while traveling to the United States to fulfill a Fulbright Scholarship in teacher education.

Among his many awards, Thiele won the Australian State Prize and twice won the Austrian National Book Prize. In 1975 the Edgar Allan Poe Award nominated his Fire in the Stone for best juvenile mystery. In 1977 he became a Companion of the Order of Australia. He received the Australian Children's Council Book of the Year Award in 1981, while his poetry also won several honors. Despite being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1955, Thiele continued to write into his late seventies. He passed away in Brisbane, Australia on September 4, 2006, leaving his wife, Rhonda Gill, and daughters Janne and Sandy.

Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, pp. 2287-91
Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 9, pp. 96-99

Scope and Content Note

The Colin Thiele Papers contain typescripts, galleys, and illustrations for the American editions of eight children's books, all novels with sea themes, many involving an appreciation for animal life. The papers also contain correspondence between Thiele and the de Grummond Collection. Books are arranged alphabetically by title, and the material for each title is arranged chronologically.

Blue Fin is a coming-of-age story set aboard a tuna fishing boat. Young Snook withers under his father's disapproval until an accident puts the boy in charge while the boat is at sea. The papers contain three edited galleys for the American edition, plus front matter, dust jacket information, and illustration reproductions.

February Dragon is the name for bushfire started by Australia's merciless summer heat. The "dragon" threatens to destroy the Big Scrub of New South Wales, including the home of the Pine family. The Thiele Papers contain a photocopy of the Australian version, with unfamiliar words or sayings edited for an American audience. Also included are two galleys of the American edition, edited and marked for publication.

An environmental theme is the subject of Fight Against Albatross Two ( Albatross Two in the Australian version). Albatross Two is a monstrous oil driller that disrupts the quiet fishing village near it. Found within the Thiele Papers are both a partial and complete galley of the American edition, plus proofs and front matter. The galleys change the ethnic dialogue of European characters to regular English, but do not alter the Australian lingo. Two additional galleys are found in the papers, but they date from two years after the original publication. These added galleys might suggest that the publishers planned another edition, perhaps a paperback version, but we can find no evidence that such an edition was ever printed.

Young Ernie Ryan finds valuable opals, the subject of Fire in the Stone, in the opal fields northwest of Adelaide. On the earliest galley in the Thiele papers, the American title originally read The Fire in the Stone, A Story of Suspense, but the editors chose not to use the subtitle. The story is not edited for an American audience, but instead includes a glossary for Australian words.

The Hammerhead Light focuses on the relationship between a little girl and a kindly lighthouse keeper as the crumbling lighthouse slowly yields to a pounding sea. Found in the Thiele Papers is what appears to be a photocopy of the Australian edition, marked by the author to translate unfamiliar Australian words into American English.

References to Thiele's childhood are obvious in The Shadow on the Hills. The story focuses on the son of German-Australian farmers as he grows and learns to appreciate the people around him. The papers contain pages cut directly from the Australian edition book. The author edited these pages for an American audience and changed ethnic German dialogue into regular English.

Shadow Shark, called Seashores and Shadows in the Australian version, is the story of repeated attempts to search and destroy a menacing shark named Scarface. The Theile Papers include pages from the Australian edition on which the author made notes to the editor and changes for an American audience. The papers also include three proofs, front matter, and dust jacket material.

Storm Boy is the nickname of a young beach dweller who rescues a nest of injured pelicans. One pelican, named Mr. Percival, becomes his special friend and companion. The Thiele Papers contain an edited proof of the Australian edition, four American edition proofs, plus front matter and dust jacket material.

Series and Subseries

A. Correspondence (1975-1990)
B. Books (1966-1988)

Blue Fin (1969; 1st American edition 1974)

February Dragon (1965; 1st American edition 1966)

Fight Against Albatross Two ( Albatross Two [Australian title], 1974; 1st American edition 1974)

Fire in the Stone (1973; 1st American edition 1974)

The Hammerhead Light (1976; 1st American edition 1976)

The Shadow on the Hills (1977; 1st American edition 1977)

Shadow Shark ( Seashores and Shadows [Australian title], 1985; 1st American edition 1988)

Storm Boy (1963; 1st American edition 1978)


Restrictions on Use

Noncirculating; available for research.

Copyright Restrictions

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.

Related Material

Pencil dummy for Storm Boy transferred to John Schoenherr Papers (DG0864).

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), Colin Thiele Papers, de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, University of Southern Mississippi Libraries.


These papers were donated to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi by Harper & Row Publishers between 1975 and 1991.

Processing Information

Processed by C. Alder, October 2001. Encoded into EAD Version 1.0 by Danielle L. Bishop. This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Container Listing




1/1Correspondence between Thiele and the de Grummond Collection, (5 items.)



Blue Fin by Colin Thiele, illustrations by Roger Haldane (Adelaide: Rigby, 1969).
Blue Fin by Colin Thiele, illustrations by Roger Haldane, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1974)
1/2Early galley, minor editing, marked for publication
1/3Galley, incorporating corrections from folder 1/2, dated 23 October [1973]
1/4Galley, minor editing, dated 30 November 1973, with note "OK for Repro" dated 14 December [1973]
1/5Reproduction proofs, incorporating corrections from folder 1/4, edited
1/6Illustrations (reproductions), (13 items)
1/7Illustrations (reproductions), (9 items)
1/8Edited front matter, proofs, and dust jacket materials, including color transparency of cover illustration
February Dragon by Colin Thiele (Adelaide: Rigby, 1965)
February Dragon by Colin Thiele, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1966).
2/1Edited front matter, dated 14 May 1976, and photocopy of Australian edition, edited by author
2/2Early galley, edited and marked for publication, dated 1 June, 4 June, and 28 June 1976
2/3Later galley, incorporating corrections from folder 2/2, marked by editor, dated 28 June 1976
Albatross Two by Colin Thiele (Adelaide: Rigby, 1974)
Fight Against Albatross Two by Colin Thiele, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1974).
3/1Photocopy of galley, edited by author and marked for publication, dated 11 June 1973
3/2Galley, marked for publication, dated 2 January and 12 January 1976
3/3Galley, incorporating corrections from folder 3/2, marked for publication, dated 30 January and 6 February 1976
3/4Partial galley, same as folder 3/3, but not corrected
3/5Proofs and front matter, (4 items)
Fire In the Stone by Colin Thiele (Adelaide: Rigby, 1973)
Fire In the Stone by Colin Thiele, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1974).
4/1Early galley, dated 10 June 1974, edited and marked for publication
4/2Later galley, incorporating corrections from folder 4/1
The Hammerhead Light by Colin Thiele (Adelaide: Rigby, 1976)
The Hammerhead Light by Colin Thiele, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1976)
5/1Photocopy of Australian edition, corrected for American edition, dated 19 October and 20 October 1976
5/2Early master set, edited, dated 19 October 1976
5/3Master set, edited, dated 21 October 1976
5/4Later master set, dated 17 November 1976, incorporating corrections from folder 5/3
5/5Proof of front matter and dust jacket material, (5 items)
The Shadow on the Hills by Colin Thiele (Adelaide: Rigby, 1977)
The Shadow on the Hills by Colin Thiele, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1977)
5/6Front matter, marked for publication, dated 21 October 1977, Book pages from Australian edition, edited for American edition, marked for publication (5 items)
Seashores and Shadows (Glebe, New South Wales, Australia: W. McVitty Books, 1985)
Shadow Shark by Colin Thiele, 1st American ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1988)
6/1Book pages from Australian edition, edited for American edition, (pp. 1-41)
6/2Book pages from Australian edition, edited for American edition, (pp. 42-92)
6/3Book pages from Australian edition, edited for American edition, (pp. 93-143)
6/4Blues, with minor editing, dated 7 October and 8 October 1987
6/5Edited front matter and dust jacket proofs, marked for printing, (12 items )
7/1Proof, labeled 'Marked Set', minor editing, dated 4 October and 8 July 1987
7/2Proof, labeled 'Master Set', dated 22 July and 23 July [1987] incorporating corrections from folder 7/1
7/3Proof, labeled '1st Revised Master Set,' dated 10 September and 11 September 1987
Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, illustrated by John Baily (Adelaide: Rigby, 1963)
Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, illustrated by John Schoenherr (New York: Harper & Row, 1978
8/1Proof of Australian edition, edited, marked for publication
8/2Master set, dated 4 May 1978
8/3Master set, dated 31 July 1978
8/4Master set, same as folder 8/3, but dated 1 August and 2 August and marked '2nd Pass', minor editing
8/5Copy of master set, dated 9 August 1978, minor editing
8/6Front matter, dust jacket material, edited, (7 items)





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