Michael Cannon was born in Brisbane in 1929. He matriculated at Geelong College at the age of 16, and spent the following decades working on leading daily newspapers including the Melbourne Herald, the Argus, the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. In the 1960s he was founding editor of the Sunday Observer and Sunday Review. His best-selling historical works included The Land Boomers, The Exploration of Australia, and The Human Face of the Great Depression. He also edited the multi-volume State project Historical Records of Victoria from its original volumes throughout the 1980s.