Papers of Ellis Blain (1914-1979)
- Papers 1961-1978, 70cm (5 boxes)
- Available for reference
The papers were donated by Ms Jenny Blain, the wife of Ellis Blain,
in 1994 and relate to the later part of Blain's career as a broadcaster.
Letters from family, publishers, and the listening public make
up the bulk of the collection. The fan mail to the program 'Let's
find out' in both 1968 and 1970 is quite considerable. Blain
received rejection letters for several of his publishing proposals,
including a book on the ABC which was eventually published by
There are scripts for radio plays and feature programs, drafts
of 'Life with Aunty', photographs, cutting books and newspaper
clippings. There is considerable research material for his programs.
Ellis Blain was born in Sydney in 1914. He was educated at Knox
Grammar School, and worked for the Australian Broadcasting Commission
for almost 40 years before retiring in 1974. He is best remembered
for his long-running programs 'Let's find out' and 'Away from
it all'. 'Let's find out' came to an abrupt end in 1970 when
Blain made a strong attack on international arms trafficking between
the UK and South Africa. Blain's other programs in the 1960s
included 'Treasury of Sound', 'Words and music', 'Workshop for
Jazz', 'Rhythm unlimited', and 'Ellis Blain's guests'.
Blain married for the first time at the age of 22 and in 1959
he married Anne Deveson. Jenny Blain was his third wife.
His personal recollection of life behind the microphone, Life
with Aunty : forty years with the ABC, was published in 1977,
two years before his death at the age of 64 in 1979.
Series 1 - Correspondence, 1961-78
The correspondence is with family and friends, publishers, and
the public who listened to Blain's various programs.
The family letters are mainly from three of the four children
of his first marriage, Cath, Simon, and Virginia, and from Anne
Deveson, his second wife.
Blain received rejection letters for several of his publishing
proposals, including a volume of collected interviews, a book
based on his program 'Let's find out', and a book on the ABC,
eventually published by Methuen. There are letters from publishers
including Geoffrey Dutton (Sun Books), Peter Taylor (Hutchinson
Group), Lee White (Macmillan), Richard Walsh (Angus & Robertson),
and Barbara Ker Wilson (Hodder & Stoughton), and from T. S.
Duckmanton, (Australian Broadcasting Commission), Tess van Sommers,
and Harold Hort.
Most of the listener correspondence is fan mail. A large number
of letters were written to 'Let's find out' throughout 1968 and
an equal number were written when the program's demise was announced
in the same year. There is a folder of unposted replies to questions
to 'Let's find out, and two folders of requests to Blain for his
photograph. The program's popularity is again reflected in the
number of letters in 1970. Clair Dunne, Diana Fisher, Sheila
Scotter and Freda Lesslie were regular members of the 'Let's find
out' team, with Charmian Clift, Coral Lansbury and Dita Cobb occasional
members. Two folders have letters to various programs, including
'Treasury of Sound', which were aired 1964-75.
Series 2. - Writings by Blain
There are typescripts with varying titles including 'Know your
ABC', 'The ABC of it', and 'A life for the ABC', which are drafts
for Blain's major work Life with Aunty. Other writings
include scripts for radio plays and feature programs, including
'In my fashion', a biography of Ernest Dowson, and 'Quality Street',
a biographical sketch of Ernest Dowson. Other titles are 'Tasmania's
lost world', 'Recording an opera', 'Dinner with the duke', 'Secret
weapon', 'Music has charms', 'Decca's Traviata', 'Slow sleeper'and
'Rouben Mamoulias', a brief biography and full filmography.
'Documentary records' reviewed by Blain in Electronics Australia
(1964-66) are included here.
Series 3. - Research Material for Programs,
Including Music Segments
Profiles, information sheets, press releases, interviews, questions
for interviews, handwritten notes, articles and newspaper cuttings
are included in the information files for use in programs. There
is material on Florence Austral, Walter Susskind, Birgit Nilsson,
Roger Woodward, Florence Taylor, Peter Dawson, and The Proms;
transcript of a taped interview with Mirrie Hill talking about
her husband Alfred Hill (1971); an interview with Ian Cugley;
and a list of music inserts for an interview with James Christiansen.
There is also material on James Cameron (1970), Mary Whitehouse,
David Cassidy, Professor Jerome Frank, and Hugh Paget.
Series 4. - Scrapbooks, 1965-71
The newspaper photographs in the two scrapbooks are mostly of
Blain, and regular and special guests who appeared on his programs.
Series 5. - Photographs
The photographs are not identified or dated. There are photographs
of Blain and Anne Deveson.
Series 6. - Newspaper Clippings, 1968-71
The clippings are mostly about the ABC and include reviews of
Blain's book Life with Aunty: forty years with the ABC.
Series 7. - Literature on Recording Equipment
Maintenance and operating manuals for tape recorders, including
magnetic ones, and for tuners.
Series 8. - Miscellaneous
This series includes an architect's plan for Blain's house at
48 Riverview Road, Avalon, 1960, copies of Radio Active (1973-74)
and ABC Radio Guide (1967-73, incomplete), blank postcards,
and programs for the opera 'The Martyred' (1971) and the tour
by Duke Ellington and his orchestra (n.d.).
Box Series Folder
1 1 1-8
2 1 9-16
3 1 17-20
3 2 21-24
4 2 25-26
4 3 27-29
4 4 30
5 5 31
5 6 32-33
5 7 34
5 8 35-36