Max Colwell’s Books

Direct link to Max's web site

Max was the doyen of South Australian writers.  He wrote novels, short-stories, plays, non-fiction books and for television.  For many years he was one of Australia’s leading writers of radio serials.  He also wrote for the BBC whilst living in London.

Max's books are available from:

102 Eighth Ave, Joslin, South Australia, 5070

Phone (08) 8 362 3530 for more information.

Cheques or money orders, please.

Max was a founding member of The Thursday Breakfast of Gentlemen Writers—a tongue-in-cheek name for a group of writers who met for breakfast and a chat about things literary at a pub in Seacliff, South Australia for many years.  Membership was open to any writer with the price of breakfast.

Max died in November 2012 after a long battle with illness. The world lost a great bloke and a fine writer.

Vale Max



$30 including postage anywhere in Australia

The story of the rites of passage of two boys.  Ranji is immersed in grinding poverty, Morgan in Australian privilege.  Ranji's path is an upward one as he climbs with cunning and fortitude from degredation to wealth.  Morgan rejects his background and sinks into squalor as a backpacker in Asia.

Both face temptations of the flesh and the soul in various forms, and both struggle to understand life and its meaning as they experience and witness extreme suffering of saints and sinners, of rich and poor, caused by natural and manmade disasters.

When their paths cross as young men, it leads to violence, but from that violence springs spiritual understanding for both of them.

This book is a metaphor for love, peace and harmony between all people, races, creeds and religions.


$20 including postage anywhere in Australia

Everyone in Mike's street was born on their kitchen tables. The time was the Great Depression.  The place was an Australian working-class community. Everyone was battling to survive, but to ten-year-old Mike and his mates, Siddy and Fred, the situation seemed quite normal.

The youngsters were part of a nearly derelict society. Some people, like the pretty young  Oppos' teacher, clung to hopes of a better life.  Others, like Miss Jam, who Siddy said was a witch, clung to the last rags of existence. Grub and Moonlight picked up a living from anything that came along. Amy Angas believed in the spirits, though no one knew whether she practiced black or white magic. Mike's grandfathers, and the other old men told tall tales of the past and got into strange scrapes in the present.  The priest and policeman acted as umpires.

This genuinely Australian novel gives a vivid picture of life among the dispossessed, and yet it is full of wry and sometimes riotous humour.  The author writes from first-hand experience of the people and the era, and he "tells it like it was".


$20 including postage anywhere in Australia

In 1938, Mike was seventeen and the depression just about over.  Things weren't as bad as they had been when he lived down the hill, but they weren't too good, either.  So Mike's Uncle Harry, being a careful sort of man, told him it was time he put childish things behind him and started to earn his keep.

Max Colwell paints a vivid and nostalgic picture of life as it appeared to a young man before the outbreak of the Second World War.

We follow Mike's journey as he learns about life, about the hopes and dreams of ordinary working men and women, about pigeon and horse racing, about girls and love, and about death; about desperation, and about the responsibilities of growing up.

Full Days and Pressed Pants is a blend of wry humour and deep compassion, rich in the down-to-earth flavour of the Australian vernacular, and written with sincerity and conviction.


$20 including postage anywhere in Ausralia

Glorious Days... follows on from Full Days and Pressed Pants.  Now we find Mike as an army conscript, a 'Chocolate Soldier' among teenagers from all walks of life, many of whom had never been away from home in their lives.

There is Barney from Broken Hill, an authority on all things from ingrown toenails to milking cows; Nugent, who started wheezing every time his grandmother opened the ice-chest door; the Dome, who had swallowed an encyclopedia when he was a kid and was halfway to being a genius; and the Tube who had had so many operations that he reckoned he had nothing left inside.  There were also sergeants like Burke, who Barney reckoned was as useless as a kookaburra with a sore throat when it came to reading a map.

In this book, Max Colwell describes how army training brought the worst and best out of boys as they were turned into men, a process that gave birth to a particular brand of wry humour.

You will laugh and be brought close to tears as you join Mike and his friends through their Glorious Days in Khaki Pants.

All 3 books in the 'Pants' series for $45, which includes postage

Plays for Students


$10 including postage

Everyone in Mike's street was born on their kitchen table.  The era is the Great Australian Depression.  The place, an Australian working class suburb.  Half Days and Patched Pants follows the story of three boys growing up in tough times.  The play brings out the humour and despair of people who were materially poor, but rich in other more important ways.  This was the days before radio and television, when conversation had an honoured place, and the only recognisable enemy was any person with authority.


$10 including postage

In "No Through Road" Max Colwell leaves the dispossessed of the Great Australian Depression and turns his attention to the problems of today's young and the aged in a period of high unemployment in Australia.  His setting is Trump Park, which attracts a variety of inhabitants for a variety of reasons.  Old Fred comes to Trump Park for peace and quietness; his friend Chummy to find companionship and an ear on which to vent his peculiar brand of humour; Eva, the collector of cans, to escape over-zealous Council employees,  Neville, who speaks only once in five or six years, Anne, a high school student with a flair for art, and Peter, a young man on the dole with what he sees as a hopeless ambition to become a journalist.

Meanwhile, the Misses Trump, Florence and Matilda, separated from all by a privileged background, watch from the sidelines until spurred into action by an invasion of louts and a Council decision to close the park.  In the face of a common threat, some friendships are strengthened, but the gap between young and old and rich and underprivileged remains.

Only the irrepressible Chummy crosses the park to lay the foundations of a new relationship.

Direct link to Max's web site

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