Guide to the Papers of Michael Noonan
Reference Number: MS 6185
National Library of Australia
|Date completed:||February 2002|
Table of Contents
|Creator:||Noonan, Michael, 1921-2000|
|Title:||Papers of Michael Noonan|
|Collection number:||MS 6185|
|Extent:||15.96m. (114 boxes) + 1 folio box + 3 folio items|
|Repository:||National Library of Australia|
Scope and Content
The papers comprise Michael Noonan's literary output as a scriptwriter for radio, television and film and as a novelist and biographer from the 1940s until the publication of his autobiography in 1995. The literary papers include drafts, plot outlines, film treatments, notebooks, research materials and business correspondence. The collection also includes family and general correspondence, personal documents, legal papers and photographs. Major correspondents include Bill and Ann Moloney, Harvey Unna (agent), Kurt Hellmer (agent), Nadine Hopkins, Catherine Ingall, Chips Rafferty, Harry Rosengrave and Ted Willis.
The papers have been organised into 12 series by Library staff. While some of the material found in the series was kept together by Noonan, the order of folders has been imposed by the Library.
The collection is partly available for research and partly restricted. Series 5/20 is restricted until 30 June 2008.
The papers were acquired by the Library from Michael Noonan in three instalments in 1979, 1992 and 1998.
Restrictions on use
Copying and publishing of unpublished materials in manuscript collections is limited and permission must be obtained from the copyright holder.
An oral history interview with Michael Noonan by Hazel de Berg is held by the Library at ORAL DeB 217, 218.
Manuscripts of plays by Michael Noonan are held by the Fryer Library, University of Queensland.
Items from this collection should be cited as [Title of manuscript item], Papers of Michael Noonan , National Library of Australia, MS 6185, [Series and/or folder number].
Rafferty, Chips, 1909-1971; Moloney, William Matthew; Moloney, Ann; Unna, Harvey; Hellmer, Kurt; Hopkins, Nadine; Ingall, Catherine; Rosengrave, Harry; Willis, Ted;
Biographers; Children's authors; Scriptwriters; Novelists;
Michael John Noonan was born on 19 September 1921 at Sumner (near Christchurch), New Zealand, the son of Eileen Sarah Moloney and John Patrick Noonan. He was educated at local co-educational primary and secondary schools before working in a bank in Christchurch for a year. In August 1940 Noonan left New Zealand to join the Franciscan Monastery at Waverley, Sydney (and later at Campbelltown). He left the monestary after seven months, and in 1941 obtained employment as a copy and continuity writer at Radio 2UE.
In December 1941 Noonan was called up to the AIF and posted to Clarence in the Blue Mountains. It was here that he started writing his first children's book, The golden forest. Later he was posted to New Guinea as an ordnance officer in Lae where he wrote In the land of the talking trees. Noonan developed ongoing health problems while in New Guinea, including malaria and a drug resistent form of tuberculosis. On his return to Australia he was stationed at Army Land Headquarters in Melbourne which enabled him to attend writing classes and study drawing at the National Art Gallery School (fellow students included Fred Williams, Harry Rosengrave, David Boyd and Ian Armstrong). Noonan studied English literature at the University of Sydney between 1946 and 1949.
After his discharge from the army, Noonan became a scriptwriting associate to his uncle, William Matthew Moloney, a prominent radio writer. Between 1946 and 1957 he wrote hundreds of radio plays and serial episodes as well as comic book scripts. In 1957 Noonan moved to London to work at the Associated British Corporation studios in Elstree. Between 1957 and 1979 he worked on numerous radio, television and film scripts as well as publishing several novels for children and adults including his trilogy Patchwork hero (1958), December boys (1963) and The pink beach (1969) and his Flying doctor series of adventure novels.
Noonan returned to live in Brisbane in 1979 where he continued to write novels, a biography of E.J. Banfield and an autobiography In with the tide. He married Jan Pearce in 1993. Noonan died in Brisbane on 4 March 2000.
Series List and Descriptions
Series 1 Family correspondence, 1940-1977
Correspondence received by Noonan from his family including his father John Noonan, his stepmother Gillian Noonan; his brother Stephen Noonan, his sisters Nora Beveridge and Patricia Smith; and his aunt and uncle Bill and Ann Moloney. There is also correspondence from other members of his extended family including Madge and Jackson Moloney, B.W. Moloney, Peggy Waring, Patricia Waring and Barbara Lawlor.
The series includes originals and copies of letters written by Noonan to his parents and Ann and Bill Moloney. The letters to his parents describe his voyage across the Tasman to Australia in 1940, his first impressions of Sydney, his seven months in the Franciscan Monastery at Waverley, and the impact of the Second World War.
Series 2 Business correspondence, 1947-1977
Correspondence received from publishers, agents, film companies and others relating to the production of Noonan's works for television and film and the publication of his books. Correspondents include his agents Kurt Hellmer (USA) and Harvey Unna, publishers Brockhampton Press and Hodder and Stoughton, Trans Pacific Film Enterprises, Australian Broadcasting Commission (Phillip Mann), Press Feature Service, and Ted Willis. The series also includes some carbon copies of letters by Noonan.
Other business correspondence may be found with papers relating to particular works in series 5-9.
Folder 5 Correspondence with publishers, 1962-1977
Mainly Hodder and Stoughton and Brockhampton Press
Series 3 General correspondence, 1943-1985
General correspondence with friends and associates including Morva Cogan, Nadine Hopkins, Catherine Ingall, Ian Mackay, Eily O'Callaghan, Chips Rafferty, Harry Rosengrave, Sydney Tomholt and Ted and Audrey Willis. There are also some letters of appreciation from readers of his books and copies of letters from Noonan to Harry Rosengrave.
Series 4 Personal documents, 1891-1978
Family papers including letters of recommendation, a birth certificate of his father, John Noonan and a family tree. Other items relate to Noonan's childhood and youth in New Zealand including certificates and references, as well as material dating from his time in the Army.
Series 5 Publications, 1945-1997
Published books written by Noonan including children's literature, young adult fiction, biography and an autobiography. The series contains drafts of the works as well as notebooks, research materials, illustrations, photographs and business correspondence.
See series 10 for unpublished novels.
Subseries 5/1 Land of the talking trees, c.1945-1946
Children's book written while Noonan was on active service in New Guinea. The book was published by Angus and Robertson in 1946 with illustrations by David Hunter Gilmore. The papers include a typescript draft, originals of 13 of the 14 colour plates, black and white artwork and a drawing and photo of the mess building at the ammunition depot outside Lae (New Guinea) where Noonan did most of the writing of this book.
Folder 1 Typescript and agreement
Folder 2-3 Artwork
Subseries 5/2 The golden forest: the story of Oonah the platypus, 1946-1948
Children's book commenced by Noonan while serving with the AIF at Clarence, NSW. The illustrator, Douglas Albion, was also stationed at Clarence and helped Noonan run a canteen for the unit. Noonan continued the draft after being posted to New Guinea and completed the work shortly after receiving his discharge. The work was initially titled 'Percy the platypus' and was published as The golden forest by Angus and Robertson in 1947.
The papers include a typescript and publisher's agreement, illustrations (including the original cover), and a photograph of Noonan and Albion delivering the typescript and artwork to the publisher.
Folder 1 Typescript and publisher's agreement, 1946
Folder 2 Colour cover illustrations
Folder 3 Photographs, illustrations and magazine, 1948
Subseries 5/3 The patchwork hero, 1951-1990
The patchwork hero is the first book in Noonan's young adult fiction trilogy. The novel was originally written in 1951. It was published by Heinemann in 1959 and later republished in revised editions in 1981 by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and in 1990 by University of Queensland Press.
The papers comprise the 1951 typescript, galleys, proofs and revisions.
Folder 1 Original typescript, 1951
Folder 2 Galleys
Folder 3 Proofs, 1981
Folder 4-7 Typescripts, revised edition, 1989
Folder 8-9 The patchwork hero and The December boys- revised edition, 1990
Subseries 5/4 The December boys, 1963-1990
Part 2 of Noonan's young adult fiction trilogy. The December boys was first published in 1963 by Heinemann and reprinted in a revised edition by University of Queensland Press in 1990.
The papers comprise the original typescript, editor's and author's corrections, proofs, a working sketch of the inlet where the novel is set and other papers.
See also series 5/3 folder 8-9 for material relating to the 1990 revised edition of The December boys.
Folder 1 Sketch and typescript
Folder 2-3 Corrected typescripts
Folder 4 Uncorrected proof, 1963
Folder 5-6 Typescript - revised edition, 1990
Folder 7-8 Galleys - revised edition, 1990
Folder 9 Papers re revised edition, 1987-1992
Subseries 5/5 The pink beach, 1968-1969
The third book in Noonan's young adult fiction trilogy. The novel was published by John Hale in 1969.
The papers comprise typescripts, notes, uncorrected proofs and other papers.
Folder 1-4 Typescript drafts and proofs, 1968
Folder 5-6 Notes and manuscript drafts
Folder 7 Correspondence, 1967-1968
Subseries 5/6 Flying doctor, 1961
Flying doctor was originally conceived by Noonan as a television screenplay (see series 7/2-14) but was eventually produced as a BBC radio series (see series 6/57-58, 65-67). Noonan later wrote a series of six flying doctor adventure novels for children. The first novel, Flying doctor, was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1961.
Folder 1-2 Typescripts
Subseries 5/7 Flying doctor on the Great Barrier Reef, 1962
Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1962.
Folder 1-4 Typescripts and proofs, 1962
Subseries 5/8 Flying Doctor and the secret of the pearls, 1962
Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1962.
Folder 1-2 Typescripts
Subseries 5/9 Flying doctor shadows the mob, 1964
Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1964.
Folder 1-5 Typescripts, proofs and other papers
Subseries 5/10 Flying doctor hits the headlines, 1965
Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1965.
Folder 1-3 Typescripts and proofs
Subseries 5/11 Flying doctor under the desert, 1969
Published by Brockhampton Press in 1969.
Folder 1 Typescript and cuttings
Subseries 5/12 Air taxi, 1964-1967
Air taxi was first developed as a possible half hour television series, initially called 'Kylie's kite' (see series 7/2/2). Noonan rewrote the story into a children's adventure novel which was published by Brockhampton in 1967.
Folder 1-2 Typescripts
Folder 3 Notes, correspondence and research material, 1964-1966
Subseries 5/13 The sun is God, 1966-1977
Noonan began writing a fictional account of the life of the painter J.M.W. Turner as a radio play. The story evolved first into a film treatment, then into a novel (published by Barrie and Jenkins in 1973) and in 1975 as a full draft screenplay. As the radio, film and novel forms of the story are so closely related, they have been kept together in this sub-series.
Folder 1 Notebooks, research material, 1967-1970
Folder 2 Radio program, research materials, notes
Folder 3 Film treatment of original story
Folder 4 "Eye of the storm" : original film treatment and research materials
Folder 5 Film treatment: "The seven wonders of the sun"
Folder 6-7 Film treatment: "The sun is God"
Folder 8 Correspondence, notes, outlines for radio program, film, novel, 1974
Folder 9 The sun is God : reviews, correspondence, later film treatment, notes, 1970-1974
Folder 10 The sun is God : correspondence, agreements, 1966-1977
Folder 11-17 The sun is God (novel) - typescripts, 1971-1973
Folder 18 The sun is God (novel) - proofs, 1973
Subseries 5/14 The invincible Mr Az, 1972-1978
Adventure fantasy novel which began in 1975 as a film treatment. The novel was published by Methuen in 1978.
Folder 1 Proofs and cover proofs
Folder 2 Film treatment
Folder 3 Telegrams, book lists, cuttings, notes, 1972-1978
Folder 4 Publisher's correspondence and typescript, 1976-1977
Folder 5-12 Typescripts (novel), 1975-1978
Subseries 5/15 Bird of strange plumage, 1970-1979
This novel was started by Noonan in 1958. It was published by John Hale in 1979.
Folder 1 Plot outline and correspondence, 1970-1979
Folder 2 Research material
Folder 3-11 Typescript drafts
Folder 12 Printer's copy
Folder 13 Proof
Subseries 5/16 Magwitch, 1980-1987
A historical novel about the convict Magwitch in Charles Dickens' Great expectations, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1982. Noonan was awarded a special purpose grant by the Literature Board of the Australia Council in 1979 to complete the research and writing of the novel. In 1982 Noonan's agent submitted a revised typescript to the ABC-TV drama department for consideration as a mini-series. In 1985 the ABC proceeded with a production "Great expectations- the untold story", written by another scriptwriter and Noonan took legal action.
The papers include research material, drafts of the novel, publisher's correspondence, reviews and papers relating to the legal case and settlement awarded to Noonan.
Folder 1 Research material
Folder 2 Research material and correspondence, 1980-1986
Folder 3 Research material, notes and drafts
Folder 4 Publishers' correspondence, 1981-1985
Folder 5 Profiles and reviews, 1982-1983
Folder 6-13 Typescript drafts, 1980-1982
Folder 14 Uncorrected proofs, 1982
Folder 15-27 Litigation material, 1984-1987
Folder 28 "The great expectation of Abel Magwitch"- six part mini-series by Tim Burstall, 1983
Folder 29 Video of Great expectations, episode 2
Subseries 5/17 A different drummer: the story of E.J. Banfield, the beachcomber of Dunk Island, 1979-1991
Biography of E.J. Banfield published by the University of Queensland Press in 1983 and 1986. The biography was first conceived by Noonan as an outline for a 60 minute documentary film (see series 8/54-64) based on Banfield's book The confessions of a beachcomber. In 1980 Noonan was awarded an Australia Council one year fellowship to write the biography. Noonan also wrote a stage play based on the biography (series 9/5-16).
The papers comprise research materials, notebooks, manuscript and typescript drafts, illustrations, and correspondence.
Folder 1-6 Research materials
Folder 7-12 Notebooks 1-19
Folder 13 Manuscript first draft
Folder 14-20 Typescript drafts, 1982-1983
Folder 21 Corrected galleys, 1983
Folder 22-23 Corrected proofs, 1986
Folder 24 Index and illustrations
Folder 25 A different drummer, 1983-1986
Original 1983 hardback edition marked up for 1986 paperback edition.
Folder 26 Correspondence on copyright, 1979-1984
Folder 27 Permissions to reproduce, 1980-1982
Folder 28 Reviews, 1987-1988
Folder 29 Reviews and other papers, 1979-1991
Folder 30 Publisher's correspondence and other papers, 1983-1986
Subseries 5/18 McKenzie's boots, 1986-1991
Junior fiction published by the University of Queensland Press in 1987.
The series includes correspondence, reviews, notebooks, drafts and other papers.
Folder 1-2 Correspondence, 1985-1992
Folder 3 Drafts and notebooks
Folder 4-13 Typescript drafts
Folder 14 Page proofs
Folder 15 Galley proofs
Folder 16 Bound proof
Folder 17-18 Reviews, interviews and cuttings, 1987-1991
Folder 19 Miscellaneous papers, including photographs, 1986-1989
Folder 20 Title lists and catalogues
Subseries 5/19 The gentle art of beachcombing: a collection of writings, 1986-1990
Anthology of little known writings of E.J. Banfield edited by Michael Noonan. It was published by the University of Queensland Press in 1989.
Folder 1-5 Research materials
Folder 6-12 Drafts, 1988
Folder 13 Page proofs and galleys
Folder 14-16 Correspondence, notes, reviews and other papers, 1986-1990
Subseries 5/20 In with the tide: memoirs of a storyteller, 1993-1997
Autobiography of Michael Noonan published by the University of Queensland Press in 1995. The early draft of the autobiography ('Memoirs of a disqualified monk') was three volumes in size and had to be extensively revised for publication in a single volume.
Access to this series is restricted until 30 June 2008
Folder 1 Notebooks A1-A3
Folder 2 Notebooks A4-A6
Folder 3 Notebooks A7-A9
Folder 4 Notebooks A10-A12
Folder 5 Notebooks A13-A15
Folder 6 Notebooks A16-A18
Folder 7 Notebooks A19-A21
Folder 8 Notebook A22 and 2 other notebooks
Folder 9-11 Notebooks
Folder 12 'Memoirs of a disqualified monk'- outline
Folder 13-35 Typescripts of early drafts, 1993
Folder 36-39 First revision, 1993
Folder 40-43 Second revision, 1994
Folder 44-45 Laser original
Folder 46-48 'Autobiography'- typescript
Folder 49-50 Proofs
Folder 51 Index
Folder 52 Corrections
Folder 53-55 Photographs and ilustrations
Folder 56 Computer disks
Folder 57 Correspondence, reviews and other papers, 1993-1997
Series 6 Radio scripts, 1946-1982
Noonan began his career in radio during the time when it was the principal medium of entertainment in Australia. In 1944-1957 Noonan wrote hundreds of episodes for radio serials and numerous radio plays.
The series comprises scripts written by Noonan, some with supporting papers. The scripts are arranged roughly chronologically. There are also 2 reels of "An old lady goes upstairs" (Caltex Theatre, 1952).
Folder 5 Radio scripts, 1946-1959
"The red carpet"(radio play, 1946); "Public enemy" (1946); and "The man with green fingers" (1947-59).
Folder 33 Radio scripts, 1953
"Dark wind" (1953); "My heart's a broken music-box" (1953); "Simon Black" (1953)
Series 7 Television scripts, 1942-1986
In 1957 Noonan moved to London to gain experience in working in television at the Associated British Picture Corporation studios in Elstree. He had been 'discovered' by Ted Willis during a visit to Australia and offered a contract, the first Australian writer to have been engaged by a British film studio.
The papers comprise scripts of television plays and episodes, together with related material including correspondence, cuttings and plot outlines.
Subseries 7/1 Produced works, 1942-1986
Folder 1 "Angry flower", 1959
Folder 2-14 "Flying doctor", 1942-1959
Includes episodes 1-28 (1957-58), various episodes from 1959, correspondence and other papers. See also series 5 subseries 6-11 for adventure novels written by Noonan based on the flying doctor theme.
Folder 15 "Violent stranger", 1960
Folder 16 "Boy on the telephone", 1961
ITV Christmas play networked on New Year's Eve 1960 starring the Australian actor Sean Scully.
Folder 17 "The music upstairs", 1962
Folder 18-21 "The winds of green Monday", 1965
Folder 22-35 "Riptide", 1964-1969
Hour length telvision series first conceived in 1964 (and titled 'Charterboat'). The series was produced in 1969 and 26 episodes were filmed.
Folder 36 "Patchwork hero"- notebooks
Folder 37-49 "Patchwork hero"- episodes 1-6
Folder 50 "Patchwork hero"- publicity, 1980-1986
Folder 51-54 "Patchwork hero"- correspondence, cuttings and other papers, 1974-1986
Folder 55 "Patchwork hero" - video
Subseries 7/2 Unproduced works, 1963-1975
Folder 1 "003 1/2"
Folder 2 "Air taxi", 1967-1969
See also material relating to the novel Air taxi at series 5/12.
Folder 3 "The bells go under the stairs"
Folder 4 "Black beauty", 1972
Folder 5 "The blue-eyed dog", 1965
Folder 6 "Bug-eyed"
Folder 7 "Coast watcher"
Folder 8-12 "The December boys"
Folder 13-14 "The four legged stowaway", 1963
Folder 15 "The jungle book"
Folder 16 "The man with three eyes"
Folder 17 "Overture for pneumatic drill and pile driver"
Folder 18 "O'Malley's bookshop"
Folder 19 "Sergeant Cork", 1963
Folder 20 "Mr Tumbleweed", 1973
Folder 21-25 TV formats, outlines, ideas, 1964-1975
Series 8 Film projects, 1960-1992
Film projects worked on by Noonan. Only a few of the projects, "Down in the forest" (1954), "Reef" (1978) and the documentaries "Pacific Lifetimes" and "I'd rather go sailing" (1974-75) were actually screened. The series includes outlines for stories, film treatments, correspondence and screenplays.
Folder 34-42 Football story, 1975-1992
Papers concerning a film and novel relating to a replay by veterans of a disputed rugby match between the All Blacks and the British Lions. Drafts of the work are included under the titles "The lion from Wales" (1972, film), "Up down under" (1975, film), "The game" (film), "The match" (novel), "Old, gold, red and bold" (novel) and "A game for hooligans" (1989, novel). The series also inlcues papers relating to legal action taken by Noonan against South Pacific Pictures for producing a film with a similar story line.
Folder 54-64 "A different drummer", 1979-1988
Screenplay based on the life of E.J. Banfield. Noonan first became interested in Banfield while researching for his documentary "The reef". His first substantial work on the subject was an outline, treatment and script for a 60 minute documentary film based on Banfield's book Confessions of a beachcomber. See also series 5/17 for material relating to Noonan's biography of Banfield and series 9 for material relating to the stageplay performed in 1988.
Series 9 Plays, 1974-1988
Stage plays written by Noonan. Only three plays written by Noonan were performed: "Magic Kennel" (1971), "Voyage of discovery" (1974) and "A different drummer" (1988). The series includes scripts, correspondence, notebooks and other papers.
Folder 1-2 "Voyage of discovery", 1974
Scenario in words and music in honour of the bicentenary of the birth of Matthew Flinders. Performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 1 March 1974.
Folder 5-16 "A different drummer", 1987-1988
The production of "A different drummer" was based on a biography of E.J. Banfield published by Noonan in 1983. It was performed by the Royal Queensland Theatre Company in 1988 starring Ray Barrett. See also series 8/54-64 and series 5/17 for other projects relating to Banfield.
Series 10 Other writings, 1935-1985
Other writings by Noonan including poems, short stories, comic texts and unpublished novels. Folder 3 contains a workbook in which Noonan recorded all jobs completed between 1946 and 1952, whether for radio, film, or short stories.
See also series 8/34-42 for draft novels "Old, gold, red and bold" and "A game for hooligans"
Folder 16-23 "Tower of babble", 1957-1985
Unpublished novel, set in 1953, concerning the golden age of radio in Australia. Highly commended by the Sydney Morning Herald Novel Competition of 1956/57.
Series 11 Photographs, 1920-1990
The photographs include portraits of Noonan, his family and friends.
Other photographs can be found in series 5/2, 5/18 and 5/20.
Series 12 Other papers, 1937-1991
The series comprises invitations, papers on the centennial of Sumner School (N.Z.), reviews, papers on Noonan's involvement in the Society of Australian Writers and the Australian Writers' Guild (including memorabilia on his AWGIE award for Patchwork hero), a cassette tape, and two portraits of Michael Noonan by Barbara Newman and Patricia Smith (Noonan's half sister).