MS 8046

Papers of John O'Grady (1907-1981)

Scope and Content Note

  • Papers
  • 1942-86
  • 1.68 m (98 folders, 2 small boxes of photographs) One quarter inch audio tape of Unstrung Bow, as broadcast by ABC radio in 1956, sent to Oral History
  • Family correspondence restricted (Box 1, folders 1-3, 5 and 7)

A summary list of his papers (based on list prepared by John O'Grady Junior)

Biographical Note Author. O'Grady was a qualified pharmacist and he had a variety of jobs, including serving with the Army Medical Service 1942-50 and working in Samoa 1956-1958. O'Grady's first and best known book is They're a weird mob, written in 1957 under the pseudonym of Nino Culotta.

Although born in Sydney, he spent much of his childhood on a remote New England farm and had no formal education until the age of twelve. He qualified as a pharmacist, but found the profession unsatisfying. In 1936 he began work as a commercial traveller selling medical goods. During WWII he served with the army Medical Service. He left the army in 1950 and worked as a pharmacist, builder's labourer, teacher of pharmacy for the NZ government in Samoa, and a fisherman. He wrote several books under the name of Nino Culotta. The most successful being They're a weird mob (1957), which was later made into a movie. He also wrote 16 books under his own name, as well as short stories and plays.

Series List

BOX 1                Correspondence (1945-80)                                    
BOX 2-3              Diaries and notebooks                                       
BOX 3-5              Drafts (handwritten)                                        
BOX 6-7              Drafts (typewritten)                                        
BOX 7-8              Stage Plays                                                 
BOX 8-9              Other manuscripts                                           
BOX 9-12             Miscellaneous                                               

Detailed List

BOX 1 Correspondence

folder 1-2           Letters to Mary (Molly) Carrol, whom he later               
                     married (1945-47)                                           
folder 3             Letters from Samoa (mainly) covering period before and      
                     after publication of Weird Mob", plus a few cards and       
                     letters from Europe (1956-60)                               
folder 4             Correspondence with Michael Powell and others               
                     concerning film scripts.  Letters from actors.              
                     Hunting chapter deleted from They're a Weird Mob            
folder 5             Letters from his sister Kathleen Casey (1974)               
folder 6             Assorted letters, including fan letters, letters            
                     from ABC, letter to Ewart Wade of the Editors               
                     Guild (1957-80)                                             
folder 7             Letters from Barrier Reef and Kingscliff,                   
                     mainly concerning research for Gone Troppo, also            
                     includes period of Molly's cancer (1970) (1965-71)          
folder 8             Newsday file - notes, letters, contract concerning          
                     column for new paper (1969)                                 
folder 9-10          Correspondence between John O'G. Jnr. and assorted          
                     persons concerning O'Grady work (1960-71)                   

BOX 2 Diaries and Notebooks

folder 11            Selected exercises for recruits, from P. & R.T.             
                     manual, 1941, with no.1 Amendment, 1942 (notebook)          
folder 12            Bahasa Melayu (handwritten course on how to speak           
                     Malay - handwriting and C of A notebook suggests            
                     war years).                                                 
folder 13            Nihon-go (handwritten course on how to speak                
                     Japanese in C of A notebook).                               
folder 14            Record of a voyage in H.M.A.H.S. Manunda                    
                     commencing July 5th 1945 (in C. of A. notebook)             
folder 15            Voyage of H.M.A.H.S. Manunda to Japan, March 9th to  May    
                     19th, 1946 (in C of A notebook)                             
folder 16            Sydney on the Bush, Mobil Run film script,                  
                     Yesterday, Dictionary of Slang, New York World's            
                     fair; includes draft of first scene for                     
                     Light me a Lucifer, drafts of Addo and Peto                 
folder 17            Projects '66-'67; includes ideas for a "Weird Mob"          
                     cartoon strip, New Guinea diary, Vietnam diary              
folder 18            "Weird Mob" film treatment, Beatles concert,                
                     N.T. diary, Pokin' around (rewritten and                    
                     extended), profit out of Hey Snow - where's Paddy?  film,   
                     88 cents in your kirk; includes diary of trip to north      
                     Queensland (back cover of exercise book detached).          
folder 19            Notes for Gone Gougin' and The Housekeeper for              
                     Melb Sun; includes diary of two trips to Lightning          


folder 20            Aussie English 2, notes from north Queensland,              
                     Irish family mottos: includes end of Are you Irish          
                     or normal, second half of Aussie English (binding           
                     on spine is coming away)                                    

folder 21            What did you say your name was?  Al Porje, Brampton         
                     diary, play notes, Listen mate, Yesterday: includes first   
                     chapter for Where's yourfeathers?, a thinly disguised       
                     autobiography about the war.                                
folder 22            Includes The Originals, Integrated Adjective,               
                     Ecumenical, notes for commentary on Cyril Pearl's           
                     book So you want to be an Australian, draft screen          
                     play for They're a weird mob, and editing note for          
                     Gone fishin.                                                
folder 23            Weird Mob film (diary of the making of the film)            

Drafts (handwritten)

folder 24            They're a Weird mob (presumed first draft, handwritten in   
                     minute book)                                                
folder 25-26         They're a weird mob (handwritten, loose leaf, as            
                     sent from Samoa, with handwritten pages deleted             
                     from original manuscript)                                   
folder 27-28         Cop this lot (handwritten in two notebooks)                 


folder 29-30         Gone fishin' (original title-Scaled and gutted)             
folder 31            Always dreamin' or Saddle a white horse (draft of           
                     Gone Troppo)                                                
folder 32-33         No kava for Johnny                                          
folder 34-35         The things they do to you                                   
folder 36            Gone gougin'                                                


folder 37            Aussie Etiket, Smoky Joe                                    
folder 38            Dog house cook book, columns for Melbourne Age              
folder 39            Essays (so sue me)                                          
folder 40            Aussie Grog (draft of Your shout, mate).                    
folder 41            There was a time (draft of There was a kid)                 
folder 42            Notes for Down Under Topside                                
folder 43            Down under to topside                                       
folder 44            Irish stew                                                  


Drafts (typewritten) : O'Grady typed all his manuscripts himself

folder 45-46         Gone troppo                                                 
folder 47-48         Are you Irish or normal (with handwritten                   
folder 49-50         Are you Irish or normal (publishers paste-up)               
folder 51-52         Are you Irish or normal (editors copy)                      
folder 53            Gone gougin'                                                
folder 54            Aussie etiket                                               


folder 55-56         Your shout, mate (much of this is handwritten)              
folder 57            So sue me and other pieces                                  
folder 58            Survival in the doghouse                                    
folder 59-60         Down under to topside                                       
                     Stage Plays (most were written while he was                 
                     running the Sydney Repertory Theatre)                       
folder 61            They're a weird mob (referred to in Samoan letters          
                     but never produced, handwritten loose-leaf pages,           
                     cardboard front and back covers detached)                   
folder 62            Handwritten drafts of Mr Slattersby, Green Olives,          
                     Unstrung Bow and Joseph of Arimathaea (written in           
                     war-time Italian medical records book)                      


folder 63            Mr Slattersley (three typed copies)                         
folder 64            Green Olives (two typed copies)                             
folder 65            The Valley (two typed copies)                               
                     Unstrung Bow                                                
                     Joseph of Arimathaea                                        

Other manuscripts:

folder 66            There was a student (was to be second volume of his         
                     autobiography but his health was failing fast)              
folder 67            Thieme Book, referred to in Samoan letters,                 
                     written immediately after They're a weird mob but           
                     before publication, never published, written in a           
                     1957 diary                                                  
folder 68            There was a ship (unfinished section of his                 
folder 69            There was a ship (two typed copies)                         
folder 70            Come the revolution, The machine that went onka             
                     (two episodes of proposed radio serial for                  
                     children, never submitted), Egoectomy, Uncle                
                     Fred's Christmas for Coast to Coast, 8th Mobil              
                     Economy Run diary and commentary for film.                  


folder 71-72         Assorted essays                                             
folder 73            "Weird Mob" tour of Vietnam, and                            
                     "Light me a Lucifer" manuscript, TV play produced           
                     by ABC TV, December 1962                                    
folder 74-76         Short pieces - mainly columns but variously                 
folder 77            Verse                                                       
folder 78            Idiomatic version of Julius Cesare - incomplete             
                     (handwritten, cover of notebook detached)                   
folder 79            'Specially on Sundays' - a comedy drama for                 


folder 80            Screenplay for Weird Mob by Richard Imrie (with             
                     handwritten notes)                                          

BOX 10

folder 81            They're a weird mob screenplay by Richard Imrie             
                     (with handwritten notes)                                    
folder 82            They're a weird mob screenplay by Richard Imrie             
folder 83            On the beach (screenplay by John Paxton; given to           
                     O'Grady while discussing Peck version of Weird Mob          
                     as film)                                                    
folder 84            Erzahtechnik and sociale probleme in Nino                   
                     Culotta's Romanen (thesis with letters by                   
                     Friederike Stiegler)                                        
folder 85            File entitled "No kava for Johnny", includes press          
                     clippings, promotional material, copy of                    
                     Australian writer and Dramatist, spring edition             
folder 86-87         Two account books 1960-82, with letters                     
folder 88-89         Royalty statements (1959-70)                                

BOX 11

folder 90            2 notebooks: listing gifts of money to family,              
                     and with itinerary for southern tour, expenses for          
                     trip to N.T. and QLD.                                       
folder 91-93         File entitled "Cop this lot", includes contracts            
                     and royalty statements 1957-76                              
folder 94            Oatley house building contract 1959,                        
                     copy of will                                                
folder 95            File entitled "Film notes They're a weird mob et            
                     al, includes assorted papers, including copy of Il          
                     progresso, December 25 1965                                 
folder 96            Quadrant, winter 1958                                       
                     Script, screen and saac, Vol. 1, no. 6, 1968                
                     ABTA Bulletin, January 22, 1966                             
folder 97            Australasian Post, May 13 1965, June 17 1965                
folder 98            Gone fishin was researched on the George's River            
                     when he went professional fishing with local man            
                     Kenny Denis (photographs)                                   

BOX 12

        Box of black and white photographs, labelled                
        "Pictorial record - Tokelau Islands",                       
        probably 1958, with negatives                               
        Box of unidentified black and white photographs             
        of Western Samoa, with negatives                            
        Quarter inch audio tape of                                  
        Unstrung Bow as broadcast by ABC                            
        radio in 1956.  Sent to Oral History.