MS 6327


Creator:  Laurence Collinson
Title: Papers
Date range:  1938-85
Extent: 1.40m  (11 boxes) 
Reference number:   MS  6327

Administrative Information


Available for reference except Box 11, Folders 10-11 (Closed until 2021)


The collection was purchased by the Library from Laurence Collinson in 1979 and an addition was purchased in 1986.

Scope and Content

The papers mainly document Collinson’s life as a playwright and poet, his later professional work as a counsellor and his active involvement in the homosexual law reform group.

The collection comprises manuscripts of plays, mostly typescript; correspondence in annotated files; material on the theatre and production of plays, scenarios, poetry manuscripts; papers of other writers, personal documents, photographs, sketches by R.A. Simpson, publications and audio tapes.

The majority of letters date from the 1960s and 1970s, and include letters from notable Australian writers such as Patrick White, Muir Holburn, Alan Seymour, Geoffrey Dutton, Rosemary Dobson, Miles Franklin, Thea Astley, Catherine Duncan and other writers.  There are also letters from publishers, family and friends.


The papers have been organised into eight series.

Wherever possible, Collinson’s file arrangement has been maintained by the Library.  In the correspondence series he arranged the files alphabetically and included details about the correspondents’ occupations and relationships to him. Other correspondence has been organised by the Library chronologically.

Related Materials

Four paintings by Laurence Collinson are held at the Pictorial Section, National Library.  (PIC R10356-10359)

Biographical Note

Laurence Collinson was born in Leeds, England, on 7 September 1925.  His family emigrated to Australia in1930 and he was educated at primary and secondary schools in Melbourne, Sydney, Dalby and Brisbane.  Collinson completed a secondary teaching diploma at Merrer House, Melbourne and from 1955-61 he taught mathematics and English at Melbourne secondary schools.  In 1961-64 Collinson worked as the editor of a teachers’ journal, The Educational Magazine.

In 1964 he returned to London to pursue a career in freelance writing. He considered himself as much a playwright as a poet. His stories and poems have been included in many journals and anthologies, and his plays for stage, television and radio have been produced both in Australian and England.

For many years he was a member of the editoral board for the Australian magazine Overland, and in the 1940s he founded Barjai, a literary magazine for youth. In his later life Collinson became interested in transactional analysis therapy (TA) and worked as a counsellor.

Collinson died in London on 10 November 1986.

Collinson’s publications include:


Poet’s dozen (1953),

The moods of love (1957)

Who is wheeling grandma? (1967)

Hovering Narcissus (1977)


No sugar for George (performed Brisbane, 1949)

Friday night at the Schrammers (1962)

The Zelda trio ( performed 1961, Melbourne, London 1974)

A Slice of birthday cake (1965)

Thinking straight (1975)

Television plays

Uneasy paradise (Australia, 1963)

Nude with violin (written by Noel Coward, television adaptation by Collinson, Australia, 1964)

The audition (Australia, 1964)

The moods of love (Australia, 1964)

Number thirty approximately (England, 1968)

Loving Israel (England, 1968)

The girl from upstairs (England, 1971)

Radio plays

A slice of birthday cake (Australia, 1963)

The slob on Friday (Canada, 1969)


Cupid’s crescent (privately printed London, 1973)

Series List

Series Title

1 Correspondence (alphabetical) 1938-76

2 Correspondence (chronological) 1960-85

3 Manuscripts and typescripts, 1949-77

4 Reviews and publicity, 1953-78

5 Personal documents and photographs, 1941-77

6 Works by other writers, 1945-75

7 Miscellaneous papers, 1945-77

8 Publications, 1946-85

Series Description

Series 1 Correspondence (alphabetical) 1938-76

Series 1 contains many personal letters, from friends and  fellow Australian writers.  There are also some business letters relating to various aspects of publishing and letters relating to the homosexual law reform group. Collinson filed his letters in alphabetical order according to the correspondent’s name.  This filing order has been maintained.  The bulk of the letters date from the 1960s and 1970s.

Correspondents include Eunice Hanger, David Martin, James McAuley, Stephen Murray-Smith, Miles Franklin, Dymphna Cusack, Nancy Cato, Clem Christesen, Bruce Dawe, Vincent Buckley, Greg Branson, Thea Astley, Roderic Anderson, Betty Roland, Barrie Reid, Leonard Shellam, Alan Seymour, Sybil Thorndike, Kylie Tennant, Patrick White, Judith Wright, Nettie Palmer, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Eric Collinson (Laurence’s uncle) Geoffrey Dutton, Catherine Duncan, Diane Pearson, Margarey Vosper, Rosemary Dobson, Universum, Peter Porter, Jean Campbell, R.A. Simpson, Roger Baker, Geoffrey Blainey, Arnold Wesker, James Corbett, Peter Mathers, Muriel Mathers, Judah Waten, Dr. Hohsna Moes, Michael Summerskill, Claude Steiner, Jim and Beth Smyth, Alan Prior, Muir Holburn, Marjorie Pizer, John Sumner, the Australian Broadcasting Comission and Thames Television.


1 A, 1961-73

2 B, 1961-76

3 C and D, 1958-72

4 E,F, and G, 1948-73

5 H,J, and K, 1959-73

6 M.Holburn, 1945-70

7 L,M and P, 1957-78

8 R,S, 1938, 1959-72

9 T,U,V,W, 1962-75       

Series 2  Correspondence (chronological) 1960-85

This series comprises letters relating to the publication of Cupid’s crescent, counselling and analysis.  There are letters from Eric Collinson (Laurence’s uncle), Catherine Duncan, Roger Baker and James Corbett.

In 1973 Laurence self published his novel Cupid’s crescent and the series contains  letters, invoices, book orders and other material relating to Cupid’s crescent.

Box 11, folders 11 and 12 consist of correspondence between Collinson, Roger Baker and  James Corbett.  This box is closed.


1 1960-69


2 1970-73

3 1973-75

4 1974

5 1975-76

6 1977-79

7 1980-84

8 1985

9 Correspondence about Cupid’s Crescent, 1966-71

10 Correspondence with Roger Baker, 1974  (closed until 2021)

11 Correspondence with Roger Baker and James Corbett, 1974-75  (closed until 2021)

12 Correspondence with Eric Collinson, 1964-75  Correspondence and notes about Transactional Analysis, 1977-81

13 Undated correspondence         

Series 3            Manuscripts and typescripts, 1949-77

In maintaining Collinson’s arrangement, folder 2 (Book publicity and other papers, 1957-59) and folder 9 ( Reviews and other papers, 1961, 1974) have been kept with series 3.


The moods of love, 1957      


1 Television script, shooting script and correspondence, 1964

2 Book publicity and other papers, 1957-59

Who is wheeling grandma? 1967

Typescript and astrology verses

Hovering narcissus, 1977

4 Copy, proof and paste-up


No sugar for George, 1949

5 Typescript

The Zelda trio, 1961, 1974

6 Typescript

7 Typescript with annotations

8 Photocopy of typescript and newpaper profile on Collinson, 1974

9 Reviews and other papers, 1961,1974

Thinking straight, 1975

10 Two typescripts, one copy, typescript with annotations and an autographed copy

11 Copy of the book  Homosexual acts

Television plays

Uneasy paradise, 1963

12 Typescript

Nude with violin (1964) The audition (1964) and Number Thirty approximately (1968)

13 Typescripts

The girl from upstairs, 1971

14 Typescripts

Radio play

15 Typescripts of ‘The slob on Friday’, 1969 and another typescript for a television play entitled  Grave and friendly

Other manuscripts and typescripts

16-21 Typescripts of One penny for Israel (performed London, 1978) other  typescripts, playscripts, synopsis and Council of Adult Education notes


Cupid’s crescent, 1973

22 Manuscript

23 Typescript

24 Letters and notes about publication and newspaper reviews

25 Manuscript and article by Collinson

Series 4            Reviews and publicity, 1953-78

In keeping with Collinson’s arrangement, some of the review and publicity papers can be found in series 3.


1 Newspaper reviews and journal articles about The moods of love and Who is wheeling grandma?1957-67 and letters relating to the publication of The moods of love, 1957-59

2-4 One penny for Israel newpaper reviews, 1978, Thinking straight, 1975 reviews (written in Dutch) The Zelda trio, journal and newspaper reviews, 1961, radio and television publicity

5 Newspaper cuttings of reviews of Collinson’s early work, 1953-59 and newspaper cuttings of reviews of other writers, 1966-78       

Series 5            Personal documents and photographs, 1941-77

The documents in this series include school certificates, teaching diploma, references, biographical notes, family wills, estate notice, death notices and family photographs. There are many photographs of mainly friends and some family (list in folder 5) and publicity photographs for play and television productions.


1 School certificates and departmental references, financial statements


2  Biographical notes, health insurance papers, family estate papers and father’s will

3-4 Portrait photograph of Collinson and family portrait photograph, 1927

5-7 Photographs of family and friends

Series 6            Works by other writers, 1945-75


1 Typescripts include The merchant by Arnold Wesker, 1975 and Self portrait in a mask by Catherine Duncan, 1974

2 Poems by James Corbett, 1965

3 Musical score Night songs by Fabian Watkinson, based on Collinson’s poems

4 Muir Holburn’s poems in A Comment, 1945 and an extract by M. Holburn in Southerly, 1949

Series 7            Miscellaneous papers and tape recordings, 1945-77

In 1946 Collinson exhibited with artists Laurence Hope, Pamela Seeman and others at the Miya Studio in Brisbane.  There is a catalogue and other papers relating to the Exhibition.

The series also includes Collinson’s personal statement, material relating to the Communist Party of Australia, correspondence with a Czechoslovakian literary magazine and a contract for the play Thinking straight In 1974 Laurence Collinson and Roger Baker interviewed William Burroughs and subsequently the interviews were transcribed and published in a book Gay Sunshine Interview, 1978.  There are some small pencil sketches, one larger ink drawing by R.A. Simpson and a letter from Geoffrey Blainey.


1 Art exhibition catologue of Collinson’s work,  R.A. Simpson’s drawings and another small painting on paper, 1945-77

2 Collinson’s personal statement, contract, Overland magazine articles and material relating to Communist Party of Australia, 1959-68

3 Correspondence and Collinson’s impressions of his stay at the Foundation Karolyi, France, letter from Geoffrey Blainey and poem by R.A. Simpson and other papers, 1962-74

4 Contract and a copy of the paper Gay News, including cuttings of articles, financial papers, theatre and poem readings and programs, 1965-77

5-6 Audio-tapes of interview with William Burroughs

7 Brush drawing of Collinson by R.A. Simpson, 1963

Series 8            Publications, 1946-85

Collinson published many poems in literary and gay liberation journals.

Published articles by Collinson

Folder/ Item

1 7 copies of booklet of Poets dozen, 1953

2 ‘Putting it between plain covers’, Club International,1975

3-4 2 copies of the The gay journal, No. 1, 1978, and No. 2, 1979

5 ‘Transactional Analysis’, Individual therapy in Britain, 1984

6 Complied by Martin Humphries, Not love alone, A modern gay anthology 1985

About Collinson:

7 Erkundungen, 31 Australische Erzahler, 1976 (German text)

Other Publications:

8 Elizabeth Hamill These modern writers, studies of the work of D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and others, 1946

9 Australian theatregoer, May-July, 1961

10 Outlook, Vol 6, No. 6, December 1962

11-15 The educational magazine, No. 7 1962, No. 9 1962, No. 10 1962, No. 1 1963, No. 6 July 1963

16-19 ‘Is an indigenous Australian drama possible or necessary ?, UNESCO Conference on playwriting, 1962 (includes program),

UNESCO Information Circular, Vol 13, No. 3 May, Vol 13, No. 4 July, 1962

20 Universum: A review of Czechoslovakian literature and arts, No. 5, 1968

21 The lion who ran away, retold by Collinson, 1968

22 The lion and the mouse and other fables, retold by Collinson, 1968

Box List












9, 12-14































Folio Box









Closed  11




November  2000