Ernest Hillen was born in Holland but moved, with his family, to Indonesia when he was three. During the Second World War, he spent three and a half years in Japanese prison camps in Java. He immigrated to Canada in 1952. He has written for and edited major Canadian magazines including Maclean's and Saturday Night. Ernest Hillen is also the author of The Way of a Boy, and its sequel, Small Mercies: A Boy after War.