Guide to the Papers of Elizabeth Harrower

MS 8237

National Library of Australia

Date completed: May 1991
Last updated: December 2002

Collection Summary

Creator: Harrower, Elizabeth, (1928-)
Title: Papers of Elizabeth Harrower
Date Range: 1956-1999
Collection Number: MS 8237
Extent: 2.94m (21 boxes)
Repository: National Library of Australia


Scope and Content

The collection comprises papers relating to Harrower's work as an author and her involvement in the literary field. There are manuscripts of her novels, short stories and plays and a large quantity of personal correspondence with fellow writers and artists. The correspondents include Bill Cantwell, Dorothy Green, Antigone Kefala, Cynthia Nolan, Nancy Phelan, Christina Stead, Judah Waten, Patrick White and Christine Williams.


The collection is restricted until 2016. The correspondence and other papers relating to Cynthia Nolan (Series 8, folders 1-3) are closed until the deaths of Elizabeth Harrower and Jinx Nolan..


The papers of Elizabeth Harrower were purchased from her by the Library in two instalments, one in 1990 and one in 1999.

Copying and Publishing

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissable 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Related Material

The Oral History Section of the Library holds the tape of an interview with Harrower, conducted by Hazel de Berg in 1967.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Elizabeth Harrower, National Library of Australia, MS 8237, [series and/or folder number]'.

Biographical Note

Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She spent her first eleven years in Newcastle, the model for Ballowra in her novel The long prospect. Harrower lived in London in 1951-59. After returning to Sydney she worked for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as a reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald, and for a publishing firm. Harrower has written four novels, Down in the city (1957), The long prospect (1958), The catherine wheel (1960) and The watch tower (1966), and a number of short stories. In 1996 Harrower won the Patrick White Literary Award.

See: The Oxford companion to Australian literature, pp 321-322.

Series List and Descriptions

Series 1 Novels, 1969-1970

Harrower did not keep the drafts of her first two novels. This series contains typescripts with manuscript amendments, notes and printer's proofs of three of her novels, one of which, 'In certain circles', was never published.

Note: Correspondence with publishers may be found in Series 6.

Folder 1-7 The catherine wheel
Folder 8-23 The watch tower
Folder 24-42 'In certain circles'

Series 2 Short stories, 1976-1977

This series contains several drafts and typescripts of short stories by Harrower. It also includes reviews by Harrower of books by Lesley Rowlands, Eric Linklater, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Harrison Salisbury, Colin McInnes, Walter Allen and others.

Note: Correspondence with publishers may be found in Series 6.

Folder 1 Alice
Folder 2 The beautiful climate and The cost of things
Folder 3 The retrospective grandmother
Folder 4 The fun of the fair
The North Sea
The cornucopia
Folder 5 It is Margaret
Folder 6 The last days
Folder 7-8 A few days in the country
Folder 9-10 Typescripts of early short stories including A Greek island, The expatriates, Absent friends, Are the chips down tonight, Pleasures of blood-banking

Series 4 Personal correspondence, 1963-1999

The strength of the collection lies in this series, comprising as it does almost entirely in-coming letters. Most of the correspondents are fellow writers and artists. The most extensive series of letters are from Nancy Phelan. There are also long runs of letters from Bill Cantwell, Dorothy Green, Antigone Kefala and Judah Waten.

Folder 1 Adams, Nola, 1980-82
Folder 2 Allen, Nessy and Jim, 1986-1990
Folder 3 Beaver, Brenda and Bruce, 1983-1990
Folder 4 Blake, Audrey and Jack, 1986-1990
Folder 5 Brink, John and Margaret, 1972-1990
Folder 6-7 Cantwell, Bill, 1969-1987
Folder 8 Claire, Stephanie and Zofrea Salvatore, 1983-1990
Folder 9 Costigan, Margaret and Michael, 1983-1988
Folder 10 Davidson, Jim, 1980-1982
Folder 11 Geering, Dorothy and Ron, 1971-1990
Folder 12 Golson, Clare, 1981-1983
Folder 13 Green, Dorothy, 1968-1990
Folder 14 Hiramatsu, Mikio, 1973-1982
Folder 15 Hughes, Robert Reid (Harrower's uncle), 1981-1989
Folder 16 Karig, Sara (Hungary), , 1978-1984
Folder 17 Kefala, Antigone, 1978-1990
Folder 18 Levis, Eve and Ken, 1964-1990
Folder 19 McInerney, Sally and children, 1978-1987
Folder 20 McInherny, Frances, 1981-1988
Folder 21 Madigan, Ruby and Col, 1986
Folder 22 Nolte, Helene and Ferdi, 1975-1986
Folder 23-28 Phelan, Nancy, 1968-1990
Folder 29 Smith, Vivian and Sybille, 1980-1990
Folder 30-32 Waten, Judah and Hyrell, 1963-1987
Folder 33 Whitlam, Gough, Margaret and Freda, 1976-1984
Folder 34 Williams, Margery, 1968-1975
Folder 45-41 Miscellaneous personal correspondence A-Z

Correspondents include Jessica Anderson, Murray Bail, Manning Clark, Rosemary Dobson, Geoffrey Dutton, David Foster, Rodney Hall, David Malouf, Edna O'Brien and Dal Stivens, 1972-84

Folder 42 Miscellaneous personal correspondence (christian name only)
Folder 43 Blake, Audrey and Jack, 1990-1994
Folder 44 Beaver, Brenda and Bruce, 1990-1999
Folder 45-46 Costigan, Michael and Margaret, 1992-1998
Folder 47 Green, Dorothy, 1990
Folder 48-49 Kefala, Antigone, 1991-1998
Folder 50-51 Phelan, Nancy, 1991-1999
Folder 52 Whitlam, Gough, 1993-1997
Folder 53 Christmas cards, 1989
Folder 54 Christmas cards, 1990
Folder 55 Correspondence re Bill Cantwell, 1990-1992

Series 5 General correspondence and papers, 1961-1996

This series contains correspondence relating to various literary activities with which Harrower has been involved. They include the Age Book of the Year Award for which Harrower was on the 1985 Judges' Panel, the National Book Council for which she was on the 1981 Judges' Panel, the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards for which she was a judge in 1987 and the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education where she was appointed Writer-in-residence in 1978. There is correspondence with the Commonwealth Literary Fund from which Harrower received a one-year Fellowship in 1967 and with the Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts (later the Australia Council) from which Harrower received a two-year Fellowship in 1973.

There is correspondence with a number of institutions and miscellaneous business papers, including correspondence with editors, invitations and papers about interviews. There is also a copy of a paper written by Beverley Brown of Sydney University, together with related correspondence and letters of congratulation sent to Harrower on her winning the 1996 Patrick White Literary Award.

The major correspondents include Sidney Baker, W.R. Cumming, Max Harris, Jill Hellyer, Laurie Hergenhan, Chris Hemmensley, Nancy Keesing, Leonie Kramer, Stephen Murray-Smith, Barrett Reid, Eric Rolls, Stuart Sayers, Anne Summers and Judah Waten.

Folder 1 Age Book of the Year Award, 1985
Folder 2 Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, 1978
Folder 3 Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1981-1989
Folder 4 Commonwealth Literary Fund, 1967-1970
Literature Board,
Australian Council for the Arts/Australia Council, 1973-1981
Folder 5 National Book Council, 1981
Folder 6 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, 1987
Folder 7 Correspondence with various public institutions, 1973-1984
Folder 8 Beverley Brown: paper and related correspondence, 1984
Folder 9-11 Miscellaneous correspondence
Folder 12 Letters of congratulation re Patrick White Literary Award, 1996

Series 6 Correspondence with publishers, 1956-1990

This series contains correspondence with publishers and literary agents, mainly concerning publication of Harrower's books. There is correspondence with Cassell & Co. Ltd. concerning Down in the city and The long prospect, with Cassell & Co. Ltd. and David Higham Associates concerning The catherine wheel, with A.P. Watt & Son, Richard Scott Simon, Macmillan & Co. and others concerning In certain circles, with Sun Books concerning The long prospect and with Robert Cross of St Paul's Bibliographies. Also included are contracts, royalty statements and reviews.

The correspondents include Geoffrey Dutton, Max Harris, J.D. Pringle and Brian Stonier.

Folder 1-2 Cassell & Co. Ltd, 1956-1962
Folder 3 Cassell & Co. Ltd. and David Higham Associates, 1959-1963
Folder 4 A.P. Watt & Son, Richard Scott Simon, Macmillan & Co. and other publishers, 1970-1972
Folder 5 Sun Books, 1965
Folder 6 Macmillan & Co., 1963-1990
Robert Cross, 1984-1990

Series 7 Patrick White, 1968-1996

Harrower was a close personal friend of Patrick White. Contained in this series is correspondence, newspapers cuttings and papers relating to White and the transcript of an interview with White's companion Manoly Lascaris by Rodney Wetherell in 1996. Correspondence includes letters from White and Lascaris, condolence cards sent to Harrower on the death of White and correspondence with David Marr relating to his editing and publication of Patrick White: letters. There is a publisher's advance copy of Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda, which was sent to White with a covering letter from the University of Queensland Press.

Folder 1 Letters of Patrick White, 1968-1988
Folder 2 Letters of Manoly Lascaris, 1974-1995
Folder 3 Letters of Manoly Lascaris, 1980-1991
Condolence letters, 1990
Folder 4 Correspondence and newspaper cuttings, mostly relating to the death of White, 1982-1994
Folder 5 Correspondence with David Marr, 1993-1994
Folder 6 Transcript of Lascaris interview, 1996
Folder 7 Publisher's advance copy of Oscar and Lucinda, 1987

Series 8 Cynthia Nolan, 1967-1997

Harrower was a close friend of Sidney and Cynthia Nolan. She corresponded with Cynthia Nolan from 1967 until Nolan's death in 1976. This series comprises letters of Cynthia and Jinx Nolan and miscellaneous papers relating to the Nolans. There is also correspondence about and drafts of Harrower's introduction to the re-publication of Cynthia Nolan's four travel books by HarperCollins in 1994 in one volume entitled Outback and Beyond. At one stage, Cynthia Nolan suggested to Harrower that she write her biography and included in the papers is a notebook containing notes taken by Harrower during conversations with Cynthia Nolan.

Note: folders 1-3 of this series are closed.

Folder 1 Letters of Cynthia Nolan, 1967-1976
Folder 2 Letters of Jinx Nolan, 1980-1990
Folder 3 Cuttings, photocopies, art exhibition catalogues and notes relating to Sidney and Cynthia Nolan, 1967-1976
Folder 4-5 Correspondence and papers relating to Outback and Beyond, 1994-1997

Series 9 Christina Stead, 1969-1997

Harrower was a friend of Christina Stead and corresponded with her from 1969 until Stead's death in 1983. Contained in this series are letters to and from Stead and papers relating to Stead. There is also correspondence with Chris Williams, who published Christina Stead : a life of letters in 1989, and Hazel Rowley, who published Christina Stead : a biography in 1993.

Folder 1-3 Letters of Christina Stead, , 1969-1983
Folder 4 Letters from Harrower to Stead, 1969-1983
Folder 5-6 Letters of Chris Williams and papers relating to Stead, 1982-1989
Folder 7-8 Correspondence and papers relating to Christina Stead

Correspondents include Chris Williams, Hazel Rowley, Jonathon LaPook, Mary Lord and Barrett Reid, 1989-1997

Series 10 Miscellaneous papers, 1963-1987

This series includes a copy of a 1982 MA thesis by Nola Adams entitled 'A dark realism; the fiction of Elizabeth Harrower' and cuttings and papers, some relating to Edward Ford, sent to Harrower by Bill Cantwell.

Folder 1 Nola Adams thesis, 1982
Folder 2-3 Cuttings and papers from Bill Cantwell, 1963-1987

Box List

Series Folder/Item Box
1 1-7 1
1 8-14 2
1 15-21 3
1 22-28 4
1 29-35 5
1 36-42 6
2 1-8 7
2 9-10 8
3 1-2 8
4 1-4 8
4 5-13 9
4 14-20 10
4 21-27 11
4 28-35 12
4 36-42 13
4 43-49 18
4 50-55 19
5 1-7 14
5 8-10 15
5 12 20
6 1-5 15
6 5-6 16
7 1-6 20
7 7 21
8 1-3 16
8 4-5 21
9 1-6 17
9 7-8 21
10 1-3 17