Charles Inglis McLaren was born in 1882, Tokyo. After his family migrated to Melbourne in 1887 he was educated at Scotch College and later attended the University of Melbourne where he graduated M.B. in 1906, B.S in 1907 and M.D. in 1910.
In the same year, McLaren was appointed resident Medical officer at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital and the Children's Hospital. In 1911 he was ordained a Missionary at Scots Church and embarked for Korea where he served as a Medical Missionary. Four years later McLaren was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Paton Memorial Hospital, Chinju and was later promoted as Superintendent. Although he resigned in 1922, McLaren's work was interrupted from 1917 to 1919 when he enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps as Medical Officer to the Chinese Labour Battalion in France.
From 1922 to 1939, he was Professor of Neurology and Psychological Medicine at the Union Christian Medical College, Severance Hospital (later Medical Faculty, Yonsei University) in Seoul. He also undertook postgraduate study in Vienna in 1929. After leaving the Severance Hospital. McLaren worked at the Chinju Hospital from 1940 to 1941.
After the declaration of war he was interned by the Japanese and fortuitously repatriated to Melbourne in 1942. The brutal experience of incarceration did not alter Charles McLaren's devout Christian ideals and on his return he advocated sympathy for the Japanese. His subsequent comments about war and Japan received wide press coverage and great controversy.
A prolific author, McLaren published several books between 1943 and 1952; He stood as an Independent for the Federal seat of Melbourne against Arthur Calwell in 1949. In 1967, Charles McLaren died.