Ivan Francis Southall was born on June 8, 1921, in Canterbury, Victoria, Australia. The son of Francis Gordon Southall and Rachel Elizabeth Voutier Southall, he grew up in Surrey Hills, a suburb of Melbourne, where he attended the local school through the eighth grade. He won a scholarship to Boxhill Grammar School and began writing at twelve years of age.
When Southall was fourteen, his father, who had worked in the insurance business, died. Southall found it necessary to leave school and go to work to help support himself, his younger brother, and his mother. From 1936 to 1941 he worked as a process engraver for a printing firm in Melbourne. At the beginning of World War II he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, trained as a fighter pilot, and later became a flight lieutenant, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. From 1944 to 1946 he worked as a war historian.
Southall married Joyce Blackburn on September 8, 1945, in England and returned to Australia with his wife the following year. They lived for a time in Melbourne before moving to a small farm outside the city. A number of the settings for Southall's young adult books are drawn from this farm in the hills, where the Southalls lived while their four children grew to adulthood. During these years, Southall supported his family as a free-lance writer, built his own house and raised his own food.
Young Australian readers have been acquainted with Southall's books since...
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