Children's writer. Ivan Francis Southall was born in Melbourne in 1921 and attended Box Hill Grammar School until the age of fourteen, when his father died. He occupied various positions including that of copy boy at the Melbourne Herald and, in his spare time, wrote fiction. He completed four books before he was twenty, three of which were published after the war. Southall joined the RAAF during the Second World War and it was this experience that influenced his early post-war writings. His first book for children, Hills end was published in 1962. It received immediate critical recognition and was followed by other children's novels including Ash Road (1965), To the wild sky (1967), Let the balloon go (1968), Finn's folly (1969), Chinaman's Reef is ours (1970), Josh (1971), and The fox hole (1972).
Southall also published a number of adult novels, essays and short stories. He won numerous awards including the Children's Book of the Year award and is the only Australian children's author to receive the Carnegie Medal, awarded for Josh in 1972. He toured and lectured extensively throughout Australia, England and the United States during the 1960s and early 1970s, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1981. Southall died in Wantirna, Victoria in 2008.