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Collection Summary

Creator: White, Patrick, 1912-1990
Title: Papers of Patrick White
Date Range: 1930-2002
Collection number:MS 9982
Extent: 32 archive boxes + 1 folio box (5.07 metres)



Scope and Content

Papers of Patrick White, covering his career and literary work from the early 1930s through to his death in 1990. The collection includes: correspondence received and drafts of correspondence sent by White (1939-1994); 10 literary notebooks (1930s-1970s) which include the beginnings of most of White's 12 novels; papers relating to White's autobiography Flaws in the glass, including all manuscript and typescript drafts; typescripts, corrections and correspondence relating to 3 published novels together with manuscripts for 2 unpublished novels and a novella (c.1965-1986); manuscripts for 3 late plays, typescripts for several major plays, and manuscripts of several [never performed] dramatic works (c.1962-1996); manuscripts and typescripts for several short stories (c.1976-1988); manuscripts for a number of poetry and short prose works (c.1970-c.1988); manuscripts and typescripts of speeches (1972-1989); dramatised extracts, scripts and artwork adapted from or based on White's work (1960-1987); address books and diaries (1960s-1990s); personal documents and certificates (1940-1988); awards received by White (1974-1987); files relating to the Patrick White Literary Award and Patrick White's Choice (1975-1990); theses and draft publications about White's work (1969-1986); scripts written by others and sent to White (1980-1990); photographs (1930-1984); ephemera (1960-1993); and printed material (1934-1990). Also included are papers of his lifelong partner, Manoly Lascaris, comprising condolence letters on White's death, photographs and correspondence (1962-2002).

This collection is by no means a complete lifetime archive. It seems likely that White destroyed many of his manuscripts and most of his incoming correspondence. White appears to have started keeping more manuscript material from around 1965 - and especially during the 1980s - although there are numerous exceptions to this general rule. He appears to have kept most of the material relating to his unpublished works (although some works mentioned in his letters are not contained in this archive), together with material still able to be 'mined' for new works, such as his notebooks. Manuscripts and typescripts of most of White's major published novels, early plays and short stories are not contained within this archive. White's notebooks, however, include material used throughout his career, and close examination reveals that they contain the genesis of many works, across all genres.


While the papers were received from the depositors very well sorted and arranged, rearrangement was required to bring items belonging to specific series together. In addition, incoming and outgoing correspondence has been sorted by correspondent. A number of items not on the original packing list were found in the boxes, and these items have been described in this finding aid. A list detailing the conversion from the original packing list to the final finding aid is available from the National Library of Australia's Manuscripts Branch upon request.

When the collection was received there were 5 unidentified manuscript 'pieces' (original box 3). Careful examination has resulted in these 'pieces' being attributed to known works. The 5 pieces were identified as follows: 1. Fête galante (32pp foolscap fluid cursive pen and blue ink with late corrections in ballpoint); 2. The hanging garden (6pp foolscap in a good hand in ballpoint; corrected and revised in both blue and red ballpoint); 3. The hanging garden (16pp foolscap in a good hand in ballpoint; corrected and revised in both blue and red ballpoint); 4. Netherwood (9pp in carbon typescript and handwritten - the revision to be implemented in what appears from page references to be an existing stage script); 5. Kiddultz (16pp of handwritten manuscript in blue and red ballpoint being dialogue and stage directions). These pieces have been added to the relevant series within the collection.


The collection is available for reference.


During White's lifetime, he asserted that he kept no manuscripts or personal papers, burning his drafts on completion of each work. For many years after his death, it was believed that a single manuscript draft of Memoirs of many in one (1986), donated by White to the anti-apartheid Canon Collins Education Trust for Southern Africa in 1988 and subsequently purchased at auction in 1991 by the National Library of Australia and the State Library of New South Wales, was the only surviving record of White's literary manuscripts. While White does appear to have destroyed a considerable portion of his manuscript material, he clearly retained many literary papers and personal papers until his death. The papers in this collection were in the custody of Manoly Lascaris (White's partner) who died in 2003, and of Barbara Mobbs, White's long-term literary agent and Literary Executor, who presented the collection to the National Library of Australia in 2006.

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 permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material. White's Literary Executor has given the Library permission to copy White's copyright material for research purposes, at the Library's discretion.

Related Material

White's manuscript draft of the 1986 Memoirs of many in one is owned jointly by the National Library of Australia (MS 8293) and the State Library of New South Wales. Letters of Patrick White may also be found in a large number of collections held by the National Library of Australia's Manuscripts Branch. Information on these items may be found via the Library's catalogue at http://nla.gov.au/catalogue.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Patrick White, National Library of Australia, MS 9982, [series and/or folder number]'.


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