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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Colin Thompson

















Colin Thompson

I was born in Ealing, London on October 18th 1942 - so now I am 70!! Until I was eleven my name wasn't Colin Thompson it was Colin Willment. Willment was my father's name and my mother changed it to Thompson when she married my stepfather. Looking back I wish she hadn't. She cut my father off completely and I only met him once when I was nineteen. Now he's dead so it's too late, though I recently made contact with his family through searching on the internet and found a first cousin, Robert Willment, who lives in America. So now I have a whole new family. He and his wife came over to Australia when Anne and I got married in 1999.
I went to boarding school in Yorkshire, grammar school in West London and spent two years at art school in Ealing and Hammersmith where, to my dismay, I met people who could draw much better than I could. I met my first wife at art school and not long after, met my first daughter, Charlotte.

I have worked as a silk-screen printer, a graphic designer, a stage manager in the theatre but never as a lumberjack in Canada or a sailor on a tramp-steamer in the South Seas. I studied film making for a year, got married for the second time and worked for a while making documentaries at the BBC.


In my early twenties I suffered with terrible depression and, on three different occasions, spent three months in three different mental hospitals - Springfield Hospital in south London. St Lawrence's in Bodmin in Cornwall and a long since closed down experimental unit also in south London where you actually had to 'audition' in front of the other patients and staff to be admitted! That was probably the only place that did me any good as I seemed to be surrounded by self-pitying people who saw mental illness as a competition where the aim was to be worse than everyone else. Seeing a lot of the other 59 patients being so pathetic probably made me become determined not to end up like them.

For no reason I have ever been able to explain, my depression went when I was 25 and has never returned.

If you suffer with depression ALWAYS REMEMBER it is NOT something you should ever be ashamed of and try to hide. I CAN'T EMPHASISE THIS ENOUGH. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. It is a genuine illness just the same as breaking your arm or having a cold. IT IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN JUST SNAP OUT OF and losing the shame and seeking help is the BEST THING you can do. There is always someone who will listen and understand, you just have to look for them. After all, no matter what stupid people might think, no one would ever deliberately choose to be depressed. I think I was lucky because I never felt any shame at anyone knowing I had depression. If they couldn't handle it, that was their problem.


In 1968 I went to live in Majorca but less than a year later moved with, my second wife, to a tiny island in the Outer Hebrides off the north-west coast of Scotland where we spent seven years trying to stand upright in the wind and began twenty years working in ceramics. I also tried living off the land but all I got was an acre of weeds, backache, a pet chicken and two more daughters, Hannah and Alice, though not necessarily in that order.


Here I am weaving Harris Tweed in my shed on the island of Great Bernera which is a dot off the west coast of The Isle of Lewis. The loom was worked by foot power which was a bit like riding a bike underwater and no fun at all. The pay was lousy too which is why we started making pottery.


In 1975 I moved to Cumbria where I lived and worked in an old farmhouse on the edge of a forest for twenty years. During this time I planted hundreds of trees and made a lake that is now home to a family of mediaeval carp. At one time my house was home for five rescued dogs and three cats.
I now have five grandchildren Ella 28, Duncan 26 and Ruth 22 who are Charlotte's children. Then there's Walter who was born in January 2006 but is actually 324 years old. Walter is Alice's son and September 2007 he got a baby brother called Donald..

In 1990 I started writing and illustrating children's books and had my first book published in March 1991. Since then I've had over 65 books published.

In March 1995 I visited a school in Sydney, Australia and fell so much in love with the place that two weeks later I came back to live here. And on April 9th 1999 I married Anne, the teacher librarian who organised my visit to the school.

In February 1999 we moved to Bellingen, inland from Coff's Harbour and about seven hours north of Sydney. It is probably the most beautiful place on earth. Click on the button below to visit Bellingen and see what in interesting place it is. In fact, why not come for a holiday?


I have always believed in the magic of childhood and think that if you get your life right that magic should never end. I feel that if a children's book cannot be enjoyed properly by adults there is something wrong with either the book or the adult reading it. This of course, is just a smart way of saying I don't want to grow up.
My favourite fruit is cherries and my favourite music is Rock and Roll and old Blues records and I am now an Australian citizen. I am left-handed and colour-blind.



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