Max Colwell   O.A.M.

          10/10/1926 -  14/11/2012

Max Colwell was a full time writer resident in South Australia.   During his long career he had thirty-five books published.   His radio, television and stage writing included dramatic plays, serials, documentaries and features.   In 1980 he formed his own publishing company with his son David Colwell.   They travelled extensively in Australia  and David’s photographs were included in several pictorial histories such as Light’s Vision and Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and the Olgas, and Heritage Preserved with the National Trust of S.A. 

            Max Colwell was born in 1926 in West Street Brompton in South Australia, and educated at the Hindmarsh and Blair Athol Primary Schools and the Adelaide Technical High School.   His old home at 28 West Street Brompton still stands opposite the site of the pughole which figured so strongly in his novel Half Days and Patched Pants, the first book of his famous trilogy. 

            He began work at fifteen years of age in a wholesale grocery warehouse where he remained for eighteen years.   The warehouse was the setting for a large part of the second book in Max’s trilogy called Full Days and Pressed Pants. 

            From October 1944 he spent two years in the Armed Forces and his experiences in the army form the background of the third book of his trilogy called Glorious Days and Khaki Pants.   He married in November 1948 and shortly after became involved in Blind Welfare work in Adelaide.   He transcribed numerous books into Braille for blind students and later became instructor in Braille at the Maughan Church Community Centre.   His students became the mainstay of an organization which supplied Braille text books for blind students wishing to attend sighted schools. 

            When Helen Keller, the American blind social worker, visited Australia Max worked with her for four days and helped to enlarge and commit Australian organizations to broaden the opportunities for blind people.   He wrote several articles on the subject and assisted in forming an organization to train seeing eye dogs in Australia. 

            In 1960 he left the grocery trade to become a journalist on the children’s newspaper “The Young Australian” where he was responsible for its fiction and Australian history content.   Leaving Australia in 196l with his family, he gained a contract with the British Broadcasting Corporation to write a series of dramatized radio features on life in Australia.   His work was also broadcast in New Zealand and South Africa, and regularly over Radio Australia to Asian countries. 

            In 1977 Max Colwell was awarded a One-Year Fellowship by the Australia Council to enable him to complete two novels. 

When television was introduced in Australia Max was one of the first to submit his work which included comedy sketches and scripts to children’s programmes in Adelaide South Australia.

In 1994 Max Colwell was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for Service to Australian Literature not only as recognition for his many books, radio and television work but for his countless years of mentoring and encouraging dozens of young writers, many of whom went on to become successful established authors.


Max Colwell O.A.M.

   10/10/1926 - 14/11/2012

Author of 35 books, radio drama, serials, school plays.


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