Guide to the Papers of Christina Stead

MS 4967

National Library of Australia

Date Completed: March 1997
Last updated: November 2008

This finding aid was revised and published with the assistance of the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust


Creator: Stead, Christina, 1902-1983
Title: Papers of Christina Stead
Date range: 1929-1996
Reference number: MS 4967
Extent: 3.0 metres (20 boxes)
Repository: National Library of Australia Canberra


Scope and Content

Manuscript and typescript drafts of prose; notes, background material and jottings relating to Stead's literary output; correspondence with Philip Harvey, Norman Rosten, Ettore Rella, William Blake, Cyrilly Abels, Stanley Burnshaw and others; diaries, reviews, photographs and other papers. The collection also includes literary drafts of other writers including Ettore Rella, Mary Sarton, George Baxt, John Bright, Oliver Stallybrass, E. Louise Mally, Jorge Ibarguengoitia, Elaine Kraf, Norman Rosten and Stanley Burnshaw.


Available for research.


The Stead Papers were acquired in ten consignments between 1975 and 1999, mainly from Stead's literary executor, Professor Ron Geering.

Related Material

Correspondence and other papers relating to Christina Stead are also held other Manuscript Collection including MS 802 (H.C. Coombs, box 49, folder 377); MS 7168 (Jack Lindsay), MS 7228 (Ettore Rella), MS 7306, MS 7570 (W.H. Pearson), MS 7666, MS 7840 (Donald A. Cameron), MS 8317, MS 8477, MS 8548 (Laurence Pollinger), MS 8617, MS 8645, MS 9244 (Hazel Rowley), MS 9351 (R.G. Geering) and MS 9405 (Edith Anderson).

Preferred Citation


Biographical Note

Christina Ellen Stead was born in Sydney on 17 July 1902, the daughter of the naturalist David Stead. She was educated at Bexley Public School, St. George High School (Kogarah), Sydney Girls' School and Sydney Teachers' College, where she graduated in 1921. Stead worked as a teacher until 1924 and in office work until her departure from Australia in 1928. Stead lived most of her life abroad, mainly in London (1928-1929 and 1953-1968) and Paris (1929-1933), where she worked as a secretary and translator and in the United States of America, (1935-1947).

During the 1930s Stead began writing novels. The Salzburg tales and Seven poor men of Sydney were published in 1934 and her highly praised novel The man who loved children appeared in 1940. Despite critical acclaim she did not win a more general following in Australia until the mid 1960s. After the death of her partner William Blake, Stead returned briefly to Australia in 1969 as writer-in-residence at the Australian National University. In 1974 she returned permanently to Australia, receiving the inaugural Patrick White Award in the same year.

Stead died in Sydney on 31 March 1983.

Contents List

Papers Received 31 October 1984

Box 1
Folder 1 "More lives than one"

Uncompleted novel

Folder 2 For love alone

Notes and jottings

Folder 3 The man who loved children


Folder 4 House of all nations

Odd pages

Folder 5 The beauties and furies

Fragments from early versions

Folder 6 "The right-angled creek"

Novella, early version

Box 2
Folder 7 Letty Fox

Notes and fragments from early versions

Folder 8 "Tales"

Story topics and fragments

Folder 9 The people with the dogs


Folder 10 Cotters' England

Early versions, fragments
"Branch line: the northern engineer"

Folder 11 Cotters' England

Notes and parts of early version
"Brother and sister"

Folder 12-14 Miss Herbert

Corrected typescript (early), slightly different final paragraph from that in the book

Box 3
Folder 15-17 Miss Herbert

A more recent corrected typescript with changed ending

Folder 18 "Eleanor", Miss Herbert

Notes and fragments of early versions

Folder 19-20 "Fan Pearl"

Notes, background material; sketches and other television projects

Folder 21 "Foxwarren Hall"

Memoirs, 1958

Box 4
Folder 22 "Foxwarren Hall"

Memoirs, 1959-60 (?). See also Folder 22a in Box 16.

Folder 23 "Four just men"

Rough version and suggestions for a T.V. series

Folder 24 "Women"

Women's Movement letters, notes

Folder 25 "Doctor"

Notes for a nouvelle

Folder 26 "Albania"

Notes, sketches, fragments of a nouvelle

Folder 27 "Spanish"

Handwritten passages

Folder 28 "Cards and cryptography"
Folder 29 "The student lovers part 2: The student of Naples"

Parts of an early nouvelle

Box 5
Folder 30 "Yiddish"

Dialogue, notes and sketches

Folder 31 "The talking ghost"

Fragments of stories and notes

Folder 32 Miscellaneous I
Folder 33 Miscellaneous II
Folder 34 Miscellaneous III
Folder 35 Miscellaneous IV
Folder 36 Miscellaneous V
Folder 37 Miscellaneous VI
Box 6
Folder 38 Lydham, early Sydney, family
Folder 39 Miscellaneous VII
Folder 40 Miscellaneous VIII

Early fragments, "The Wraith and the Wanderer", Verse, "Under Capricorn"

Folder 41 Miscellaneous IX
Folder 42 Miscellaneous X
Folder 43 "The traveller's bed and breakfast", St Prex
Folder 44 "Marionettes I"


Folder 45 "Marionettes II"

Jan Callowjan

Box 7
Folder 46-47 "On Literature I"
Folder 48-49 "On Literature II"
Folder 50-51 Letters
Folder 52 'Answers to Questionnaire'
(a) International Association of Writers for the Defence of Culture, 1937
(b) Interview by Jonah Raskin
Folder 53 "On Virginia Woolf"
Folder 54 "On David Smith's Medals for Dishonour"
Box 8
Folder 55 "On Stanley Burnshaw"
Folder 56 Stanley Burnshaw.

"Caged in an Animal's Mind"

Folder 57 Stanley Burnshaw.


Folder 57 Stanley Burnshaw.

"The Hero of Silence"

Folder 58 Stanley Burnshaw.

"Uriel Da Costa"

Folder 59 Ettore Rella.

"American Portifolio" With comments

Folder 60 Ettore Rella.

(i) "Smiley the Guru" With comments
(ii) "The Real Imitation"

Folder 61 Vietnam

Printed matter

Folder 62 "Women in Love"

Sapphire Films

Box 9
Folder 63 (i) Mary Sarton.
(ii) George Baxt.

"The Leopard Land"
"The Curse of the Golem". Original story and screenplay, 1958

Folder 64 John Bright.

City of Angels

Folder 65 (i) Oliver Stallybrass.
(ii) E. Louise Mally.

"I. 2 Track Mind"
"The Hunter of Kentucky"

Folder 66 Jorge Ibarguengoitia.

"The Dead Girls"

Folder 67-68 Elaine Kraf.

"The House of Madelaine"

Folder 69 John Bright.

"The Paper World"

Folder 70 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1981-83

Addition 10 October 1986

This addition described by Marlene Bonny, 13 March 1987.

Box 10
Folder 71 Correspondence from Philip Harvey, 1961-1980
Folder 72 Correspondence from Stead to Philip and Leah Harvey, 1968-1984
Folder 73-78 Early versions of material published in Ocean of Story
Box 11
Folder 79 Unpublished articles and notes
Folder 80-83 Book reviews
Folder 84 Workshop in the novel
Folder 85-86 I'm dying laughing - background material
Box 12
Folder 87 I'm dying laughing - notes and background material
Folder 88-94 I'm dying laughing - early versions
Box 13
Folder 95-99 I'm dying laughing - early versions
Folder 100-102 I'm dying laughing - final draft
Box 14
Folder 103-107 I'm dying laughing - final draft
Le Grand Véfour - menu

Addition 9 September 1988

Box 14
Folder 108 Three typescripts (n.d.): "Extracts from a Spanish diary" (2 p.), "Notes on character observation" (2 p.), "Clarification of the plot - how to approach and write the great scene" (2 p.)
Unfinished stories in typescript (no dates but some appear circa early 1940s): "The bearded lady" "Lafe Tilley's haunted house" "Haunted cars" "The talking ghost" "George eccentricities" "MM's ghost"
Folder 109 Correspondence between Christina Stead and Norman Rosten, 1967-82

Includes poems by Rosten sent to Stead.

Addition 7 June 1991

Box 15
Folder 110 Diary "First days of a modern Monte Christo", Belgium, August - October 1936
Folder 111 Diary "The travellers' bed and breakfast", Switzerland and France, September 1950 - April 1951
Folder 112 Diaries, Paris, United States, Spain, Belgium, London, 1929-40
Folder 113 Miscellaneous typescripts 1. "The 36 classic dramatic situations" 2. "Bookbinding ateliers of Paris" 3. "A few points" 4. "Decline of the bourgeois audience in England" 5. "Overland" - fragments on childhood, voyage to Europe 6. "Why I am an expatriate" - fragments of various versions 7. "Obsession" 8. "Workers and writers" 9. "Terror in La Ciudad Imbecila" 10. "Reverberations from Spain" 11. "Guns along the Bidasoa" 12. Virginia Woolf - Quentin Bell 13. "Senor Armino" - notes on The Man Who Loved Children 14. "Notes on Letty Fox and Teresa" 15. "Notes on Jack Brame and family" 16. "Love affairs" - Letty Fox and For Love Alone 17. "The Fausts" 18. Journal of "The Blackmailer" 19. "From a radio interview" 20. "The doctor and Vietnam"
Folder 114 Photocopies of letters of Harry Bloom, 1949-74
Folder 115 Letters of Ettore and Jessie Rella, 1944-82
Folder 116 Stead's letters to Ettore Rella, 1967-82
Folder 117 Poems by Ettore Rella
Folder 118 Correspondence with Philip Harvey, 1958-78
Box 16
Folder 119-120 Correspondence with William Blake, 1929-68
Folder 22a Record of life at Foxwarren, 1959-60

Added 23 June 1975

Addition October 1993

Box 17
Folder 121-123 Correspondence of Christina Stead and William Blake 1930-81

Correspondents include Eldon Branda, Richard Kopely, Aida Kotlarsky, Nadine Mendelson, W.H. Pearson, Norman Rosten, Eva Schumann, Catherine Stead, Gilbert Stead, Philip Van Doren Stern, Neil Stewart, Gwen Walker-Smith, Hyren and Judah Waten and Asa Zatz.

Addition 6 February 1996

This addition consists mainly of correspondence with Christina Stead and her husband, William Blake, and a folder of portrait photographs 1930-82.

Box 17
Folder 124 Correspondence of Christina Stead, 1957-82

Correspondents include Dymphna Cusack, A.D. Hope, Hal Porter and Patrick White.

Folder 125 Correspondence of Christina Stead and William Blake, 1946-73

Correspondents include H. Grossman, Dymphna Cusack, Tella Friedmann, Stanley Burnshaw and Oliver Stallybrass.

Folder 126 Miscellaneous typescripts including some correspondence, 1933-77
Folder 127-128 Correspondence with Cyrilly Abels, 1965-75
Box 18
Folder 129 Condolences to Christina Stead on the death of her husband, William Blake, 1968
Folder 130 Portrait photographs, mainly of Christina Stead and William Blake, c.1930-80
Box 19
Folder 131 Correspondence between Christina Stead and William Blake

Addition 28 January 1999

Box 18
Folder 132 Photocopies of Christina Stead's letters to Stanley Burnshaw, 1937-69
Folder 133 Photocopies of Christina Stead's letters to Stanley Burnshaw and others, 1965-82

Addition 16 July 1999

Box 18
Folder 134 Photograph of the family farewell to Christina Stead, at Hopetoun Avenue, Chatswood, March 1928, before Stead left for England

Addition 3 August 1999

Box 20 Wooden plaque given to Christina Stead as a book prize

Addition 7 December 1999

Box 20
Folder 135 Copies of two family photographs.

The first was taken at a family welcome home in 1919 for Stead's cousin Sidney Stead, and includes both Stead and her father. The second is of Stead's half siblings, taken on the waterfront at 'Boongarre' in 1919.