Missing Donald Friend diaries uncovered

Two diaries by Australian artist Donald Friend, believed missing for more than 60 years, have been found in the United States and donated to the National Library of Australia.

The diaries were uncovered by Friend expert Ian Britain whilst visiting Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Pennsylvania, where he was researching his upcoming book on Donald Friend.

Aware that Friend had sold two diaries to the last private owner of Fallingwater, Edgar Kaufmann Jr in 1944, Mr Britain set to work, eventually tracking down David De Long, now Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennyslvania, who had been given a box of Kaufmann’s effects left over from the sale of the estate.

“Professor De Long asked me for a description of what I was looking for and rang me back an hour later saying he had found one of the missing diaries in that collection – Vol XIV in the series Desastres de la Guerra,’ Mr Britain said. ‘He indicated straight away that he, and others connected with the Kaufmann estate had no doubt that the diary should be returned to Australia and enter the National Library’s collection – plus anything else that may turn up.’ About two weeks later, Professor De Long found the second diary, Vol IX, July-August, 1943.

The two diaries cover Friend’s time in the army, 1942-1945, featuring his words and sketches in school-type exercise books. They range from quick line drawings in ink to stunning watercolours.

Director-General of the National Library Jan Fullerton said she was delighted by the gift of the two diaries which would join the 44 Donald Friend diaries in the Library’s extensive collection of Friend’s manuscripts.

‘We are also very grateful to Ian Britain and his excellent detective work in helping to bring the diaries back to Australia and into our collection, a collection that belongs to all Australians,’ Ms Fullerton said.

Media:
To interview Ian Britain and photograph/film the diaries, please contact:
Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, National Library of Australia
02 6262 1704 or 0401 226 697
shopman@nla.gov.au