Guide to the Papers of Harold Stewart

MS 8973

National Library of Australia

Date completed: June 1996
Last updated: November 2008

This finding aid was revised and published with the assistance of the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.


Title: Papers of Harold Stewart
: Stewart, Harold, 1916-1995
Dates: 1933-95
Extent: 4.65 metres (31 boxes)
Repository: National Library of Australia Canberra
Abstract: The collection comprises personal, publishers' and general correspondence; financial papers; travel diaries; notebooks relating to his works and his interest in Asian history and culture; typescripts and other papers relating to his published works.


Scope and Content

The collection comprises personal, publishers' and general correspondence; financial papers; travel diaries; notebooks relating to his works and his interest in Asian history and culture; typescripts and other papers relating to his published works A chime of windbells, Tannisho, and By the old walls of Kyoto; manuscripts and typescripts of his unpublished works "Over the vermilion bridge", "New phoenix wings", and "Autumn landscape roll"; essays and other papers.

Major correspondents include the Australia Council, Dr Carmen Blacker, Tess van Sommers d'Alpuget, Dorothy Green, Michael Heyward (author of The Ern Malley affair), Stewart's patron Heinz Karrer, Peter Kelly, the potter Milton Moon, Ruth Niland (Park), Peter Talbot Wilcox and John Weatherhill Inc.


Part available for research; part requires permission for research; part not available for research.

Series 3/37-40 is closed until ten years after Milton Moon's death; Series 3, folder 47 is closed until Marion Riley's death; Series 16/32a is restricted until 2025.


The papers were bequeathed to the Library by Harold Stewart and were acquired in October 1995. The executor of the estate, Bishop Peter Hillebrand, wrote to many of Stewart's correspondents suggesting that they donate letters from Stewart to the Library. Papers acquired in this manner, while not strictly part of the Stewart Papers, form series 16.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Harold Stewart, National Library of Australia, MS 8973, [series and/or folder number]'.

Biographical Note

Harold Frederick Stewart was a poet and Oriental scholar. He was born on 14 December 1916 and died on 7 Aug. 1995. Stewart grew up Drummoyne, NSW and was educated at Fort Street Boys High School and the State Conservatorium of Music. In 1936 he attended the University of Sydney but did not complete a degree.

In 1941 he was conscripted and sent to the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs at the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne. In 1943 Stewart and James McAuley perpetrated the Ern Malley hoax against Max Harris, the editor of the modernist literary magazine Angry Penguins.

After the war Stewart lived in Melbourne and worked at the Norman Robb bookstore. In 1950 he organised a reading group in Asian philosophy, and during the 1950s ran courses for the Victorian Council of Adult Education on literature, music and Asian art and worked as a broadcaster with the ABC.

While Stewart's early writings were in the European classic tradition, his later works reflected his interest in Chinese and Japanese history and culture. His first book of poems, Phoenix wings was published by Angus & Robertson in 1948. In 1956 a sequence of poems entitled Orpheus and other poems was also published by Angus & Robertson. This work had previously won the Sydney Morning Herald 1949 verse competition.

In 1959-60 Stewart was awarded the Saionji Memorial Scholarship to study Japanese culture in Japan for one year. He visited Japan in 1961 and 1963 and in 1966 moved to Kyoto, never returning to Australia. In Kyoto he studied under Bando Shojun, a Shin Buddhist priest and Professor of Buddhism at Otani Daigaku (Shin Buddhist University in Kyoto). He continued to write, supported largely by Australia Council literature grants and his patron, Heinz Karrer.

His later publications were the haiku translations A net of fireflies (Rutland, Vt : C. E. Tuttle, 1960) and A chime of windbells (Rutland, Vt : C. E. Tuttle, 1969), the limited edition of The exiled immortal : a song-cycle (Canberra : Brindabella Press, 1980), Tannisho (Eastern Buddhist Society, 1980) a translation of the 13th century text written by Yuien-bo (with Bando Shojun), and By the old walls of Kyoto : a year's cycle of landscape poems with prose commentaries (New York: Weatherhill, 1981), an account in verse of twelve of Kyoto's historic sights.

In 1987 Stewart was awarded the Fellowship of Australian Writers' Christopher Brennan Award.

In the year before his death, Stewart completed his largest work "Autumn landscape roll", a 5000 line poem on a voyage to the afterlife by the Tang dynasty poet Wu Tao Tzu.

Series List and Descriptions

Series 1 Out-letters, 1962-95

Carbon copies of letters by Harold Stewart. Correspondents include Titus Burckhardt, Stewart's sister Marion Riley, Dorothy Green, Jane Carnegie, Australia Council, Alec Bolton, Verna Sabelle, Ken Henderson, Heinz Karrer, Dr Carmen Blacker, Australian Society of Authors, Clive Faust, Bando Shojun, and Jeffrey Hunter.

The letters to his sister describe his travels in Japan, 1966-67, while others discuss dreams, Zen Buddhism, the career of Masaaki Ueshima, Chinese symbols, an article for Hemisphere, reasons for his preferences for Asian traditions in his later poetry rather than Western , Japanese society, his refusal to sanction the publication of the Ern Malley collages and poems and the publication of The exiled immortal, By the old walls of Kyoto and "New phoenix wings". Some letters also contain comments on other writers' works. There are also fragments of letters, possibly used by Stewart for articles or other writings.

The letters are arranged chronologically (2 folders).

Series 2 Publishers' correspondence, 1967-95

See also series 3, folders 11 and 12 for correspondence with Alec Bolton and Bob Brissenden relating to publications.

Folder 1 Hemisphere, 1970-75

Correspondence from Ken Henderson.

Folder 2 Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968-95

Correspondence relating to the publication of the first and second editions of A net of fireflies, and rejections of By the old walls of Kyoto, "Over the vermilion bridge" and "New phoenix wings".

Folder 3-5 John Weatherhill Inc., 1967, 1978-93

Correspondence and carbon copies of letters by Stewart concerning the publication of By the old walls of Kyoto. Also includes some copies of letters by the Australia Council concerning subsidies for the work, the publishing agreement and some notes.

Folder 6 Westerly, 1987-93

Correspondence with Dennis Haskell relating to contributions.

Folder 7 Other publishers' correspondence, 1971-95

Includes the National Geographic Society, Penguin books, Angus & Robertson, Jonathan Cape Limited, Oxford University Press, Faber & Faber and the Independent Monthly.

Series 3 General correspondence, 1955-95

Personal, family and other correspondence received by Stewart. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent for significant correspondents, and chronologically for occasional correspondents. Major correspondents include the Australia Council, Dr Carmen Blacker, Tess van Sommers d'Alpuget, Dorothy Green, Michael Heyward (author of The Ern Malley affair), Heinz Karrer, Peter Kelly, Milton Moon, Ruth Niland (Park) and Peter Talbot Wilcox.

Correspondents represented in the chronological run include Brenda Williamson, Dal Stivens, Geoffrey Borrack, K. & T. Brummer, Sir James Plimsoll (Ambassador to Japan and Governor of Tasmania), Patricia Pound, Jane Carnegie, James McAuley, Jeffrey Smart, Alec Hope, Dr Peter G. Moore and the Australian Embassy (Tokyo).

Some of the letters contain photographs and clippings.

Folder 1-4 Australia Council Literature Board, 1976-95
Folder 5 Guilford Bell (and Denis Kelynack and T. Graham Fisher), 1981-93
Folder 6-10 Dr Carmen Blacker, 1970-95 (includes a review of By the old walls of Kyoto)
Folder 11 Alec Bolton, 1978-81
Folder 12 R.F. Brissenden, 1983-88
Folder 12 Alison Broinowski, 1983-87
Folder 13 Don Buck, 1989-92
Folder 14 Darryl Collins, 1978-93
Folder 14 Michael Cook, 1988-95
Folder 15-16 Tess van Sommers d'Alpuget, 1979-95
Folder 17 Rawdon Dalrymple, 1990-92
Folder 18 Rosemary Dobson, 1974-76
Folder 18 Michael Easson, 1992-94
Folder 18 Geoffrey Fairbairn, 1980
Folder 19 James Fairfax, 1982-93
Folder 20 Clive Faust, 1982-83
Folder 21 Fayette Gosse, 1982-91
Folder 22-26 Dorothy Green, 1969-90
Folder 27 Peter Grime, 1993-94
Folder 28-29 Michael Heyward, 1983-93
Folder 30 Marie E. Hewitt, 1988-95
Folder 31 Ian Hunt, 1993-94
Folder 32 Hisao Inagaki, 1981-92
Folder 33-34 Heinz Karrer, 1969-85
Folder 35 Peter Kelly, 1974-95
Folder 36 Gwendda Milston, 1989
Folder 37-40 Milton Moon, 1980-96


Folder 41 Wayne Morioka, 1978-94
Folder 42 Peter Muller, 1970-94
Folder 43 Michael Murray, 1990-91
Folder 44-46 Ruth Niland (Park) (and Rory Niland), 1980-95
Folder 47 Marion Riley, 1974-82


Folder 48 Verna Sabelle, 1979-85
Folder 48 S. Durai Raja Singam, 1974-95
Folder 48 Gwynneth Smith, 1980-95
Folder 49-52 Peter Talbot Willcox, 1979-95
Folder 53 1955, 1965-69
Folder 54 1970-71
Folder 55 1973-74
Folder 56 1975-76
Folder 57 1977-78
Folder 58 1979-80
Folder 59 1981
Folder 60 1982
Folder 61 1983
Folder 62 1984
Folder 63 1985-86
Folder 64 1987-88
Folder 65 1989-90
Folder 66 1991
Folder 67 1992
Folder 68 1993
Folder 69-70 1994
Folder 71 1995
Folder 72-73 Undated correspondence

Series 4 Financial papers, 1966-95

Folder 1-2 Financial correspondence and papers relating to income tax, banking and other financial matters, 1969-92
Folder 3 Carbon copies of letters and correspondence relating to visa applications, 1967-85, 1995
Folder 4 Royalty statements, 1966-92
Folder 5 Public lending right claimant advice forms and other papers, 1976-83
Folder 6 Receipts and invoices

Series 5 Travel diaries, 1961, 1966-69

Typescript diary of Stewart's voyage to, and impressions of Japan, 1961 and manuscript and typescript copies of diaries of his travels around Japan, 1966-69 (2 folders + 1 vol.).

Series 6 Notebooks

Undated notebooks containing notes and quotes relating to classical and Oriental mythology, symbolism, history, art, science, philosophy, Taoism, and other subjects. Also includes three notebooks containing haiku (2 folders).

Series 7 Haiku translations

Stewart published two volumes of haiku translations: A net of fireflies and A chime of windbells. A third complete volume, "Over the vermilion bridge", was not published at the time of Stewart's death. A fourth volume was in progress.

Subseries 7a A chime of windbells (Rutland, Vt: C. E. Tuttle, 1969)

Typescript carbon copy with ms corrections of Stewart's translations of haiku, prose essay and notes (159p.) (2 folders).

Subseries 7b 'Over the vermilion bridge'

Notebook and typescripts of Stewart's translations of haiku by Ho-o with an introduction and notes (4 folders)

Subseries 7c Haiku for volume IV

Working notebook containing haiku translations for a proposed fourth volume (1 vol.)

Series 8 Tannisho

Published by the Eastern Buddhist Society, 1980.

Corrected typescript of Tannisho: passages deploring deviations of faith, translated by Bando Shojun and Harold Stewart (1 folder)

Series 9 By the old walls of Kyoto

Sequence of 13 seasonal poems on celebrated sights of Kyoto, with 13 prose commentaries on their cultural and religious significance, published by Weatherhill, 1981.

Two corrected typescripts, a typescript copy of the index, typescripts of rejected verse and prose, and a revised and corrected copy of the book (5 folders + 1 vol.).

Series 10 'New phoenix wings'

Unpublished volume of selected poems from Phoenix wings (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1948), Orpheus and other poems (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1956) and The exiled immortal (Canberra: Brindabella Press, 1980). Stewart considered the poems in "New phoenix wings" to be the definitive versions.

The series contains corrected photocopies of published poems, a corrected copy of Orpheus and other poems, "Draft notes for advertisement for 'New phoenix wings'", and two clean typescripts of "New phoenix wings" (4 folders).

See also series 16, folders 27-28 for further typescripts.

Series 11 Autumn landscape roll

Stewart wrote "Autumn landscape roll", a 5000 line epic poem on a quest for Nirvana by the Tang dynasty poet Wu Tao Tzu, over a twenty year period. The poem was completed, but not published, at the time of Stewart's death.

See also series 16, folders 29-30 for further typescripts.

Folder 1 'Plot book for "Landscape roll"' containing manuscript explanations of the purpose and method of the poem, manuscript poetry, notes on Zen and Tao, scenes to be treated by the poem and other matters.
Folder 2-12 Plot synopses, draft poems, Gustav Mahler concert material, Zen dialogues and research notes relating to Spring and Summer sequences.
Folder 13 "Prologue": manuscript and typescript poems and notes
Folder 14 "Hui Nêng: moonrise soliloquy"
Folder 15 Drafts of "Chuang-tsu's dream" "The death of Chuang-tsu", "Fa Tsang's vision", "Chi-tsang's vision", miscellaneous poetry notes and an essay entitled "The medium of verse" (1947) by H. Stewart.
Folder 16 "1. Notes on the Far East" containing research notes and material on "The death of Chuang-tzu"
Folder 17 "2. Autumn landscape roll : descriptive" containing "An outline of Japanese Buddhist iconography" and 1987 lecture notes
Folder 18-32a Working notebooks containing corrected typescripts of verse and prose, dating from the 1960s to 1980s.
Folder 33 Prose notes for "Autumn landscape roll"
Folder 34 Corrected typescript of "Autumn landscape roll"
Folder 35-36 Clean typescripts

Series 12 Essays, 1951-c.1973

Folder 1-2 Rough notes and drafts of "Tradition and poetry". Also includes copies of published essays by Stewart, James McAuley, D.C. Muecke, a radio script for "Literary review" by Stewart broadcast on 3LO, 15 May 1951 and other typescripts.
Folder 3-4 Notes for essays on Shin Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism, typescript of "English translations of Shin texts" and other papers, 1963-72
Folder 5 Miscellaneous notes for essays
Folder 6 Working notebook entitled "First rough notes for prose essays"
Folder 7 Working notebook "Prose essays in progress"
Folder 8-10 Typescripts and published versions of articles on Japan published in Hemisphere

Series 13 Other writings, 1933-59

See also series 15, folder 1 for other poems and translations by Stewart.

Folder 1 Notebook, 1933-36 containing manuscripts of early poems
Folder 2 Quotes on poetry; an article "Harris harassed"; an account of a speech by Stewart published in The union recorder, Oct. 1938; an extract of a letter from Stewart to Harry Hooten, 9 Aug. 1942 published in Arna; typescript on speaking verse; 'General notes on "Orpheus" by Harold Stewart' article "The Cruickshank award" by James McAuley published in Prism, Mar. 1959 and "The medium of verse", by Stewart published in Workshop, 1947.
Folder 3 "The myth of Prometheus" by Stewart published in Workshop, 1948; 'General notes on "Orpheus"'; corrected typescript of "Ode to Cybele" and notes on poetry, Asian philosophy and other matters.
Folder 4 Notebook containing notes, prose impressions and "Index of subjects for use in Zen poems".
Folder 5 Working notebook: "Rejected fragments and phrases of juvenilia"
Folder 6 Folder containing verse published in the Fortian, Hermes and Arna, 1933-38
Folder 7 Manuscript and typescript drafts of material for "The triumph of night"
Folder 8 Exercise book containing material for "The triptych of psyche" and notes and plot outlines for poetic projects
Folder 9-10 Draft material for "Ode to Sarasvati" and "Ode to Sinurgh"
Folder 11 Working notebook entitled "Aquarelles Japonaises: short poems on Japan"
Folder 12 Working notebook "Poetic principles and practice"
Folder 13 Notebook for "Miyajima: the deathless isle", material for Kangra miniatures and other papers

Series 14 Council of Adult Education, 1954

Stewart lectured in art and poetry for the Victorian Council of Adult Education in the 1950s. The series contains slide notes and lecture transcripts on poetry and Asian art (1 folder)

Series 15 Other papers, 1979-93

Folder 1 "Instructions to literary editor" by Stewart, listing completed books for publication, and explaining the background to his literary papers. Also includes a typescript of "Uncollected poems and translations".
Folder 2 "Bibliography of the works of Harold Stewart" and "A candle in the sunrise", an essay by Dorothy Green on By the old walls of Kyoto.
Folder 3 Name card holder, including a postcard, 1993, photo and notes
Folder 4 Notes and articles on Chinese painting, music and other subjects
Folder 5 Copies of articles and newspaper cuttings
Folder 6 Photographs (see also series 16, folders 2 and 22)
Folder 7 Printed material including pamphlets, programs and serials
Folder 8-9 Miscellaneous papers

Series 16 Papers from other sources, 1957-95

This series primarily contains originals and copies of letters of Harold Stewart which were donated to the Library by the recipients after Stewart's death. The letters complement the general correspondence in series 3. Also included are slides, typescripts and other papers.

The papers are listed by the name of the donor, roughly in the order in which they were received.

Folder 1 Peter Muller (Addition Oct. 1995)

Five letters and one card from Stewart, 1992-94 and one unopened and returned letter from Muller to Stewart, 1995

Peter Muller (Addition Feb. 1996)Stewart letters, 1957-58 and typescript of 'The descent of Manjusri' (1959

Folder 2 Guy Stuart (Addition Oct. 1995)

Stewart letter, 1986 and photograph of a drawing by Stuart of the view from Stewart's roof in Kyoto

Folder 2 Bishop Peter Hillebrand (Addition Nov. 1995)

Cassette tapes of an interview Stewart recorded with Michael Tipping

Folder 2 Bishop Peter Hillebrand (Addition Jan. 1996)

Photograph of Stewart

Folder 3 Alan Palmer (Addition Nov. 1995)

Copy of Stewart letter, 1994 and copies of inscriptions in three books by Stewart

Folder 4 Patricia Pound (Addition December 1995)

Stewart letters, 1977-95

Folder 5 Don A. Proudfoot (Addition Dec. 1995)

Stewart letters and postcards, 1983-95

Folder 5 Marta Fischer (Addition Mar. 1996)

Two Stewart cards, 1992 and 1995

Folder 16-21 Gwynneth Smith (Addition Mar. 1996)

Over 300 Stewart letters, 1966-95

Folder 22 Gwynneth Smith (Addition May 1996)

23 slides of Harold Smith, his friends, possessions and surroundings in Kyoto taken on Smith's trips to Japan, 1973-83

Folder 23-24 Marie E. Hewitt (Addition Mar. 1996)

Copies of Stewart letters, 1974-95

Folder 25 Professor Klaus Leowald (Addition Mar. 1996)

Stewart letter and postcard, 1984

Folder 25 Professor Klaus Leowald (Addition June 1996)

Typescripts of selected poems including 'Autumn nakedness' and 'The landscape from within' and other poems published in Phoenix wings (1948)

Folder 25 Professor Klaus Leowald (Addition July 1996)

Article entitled "The Eighth Australian Employment Company" by Klaus Leowald, 1985

Folder 26 Geoffrey Goldie (Addition Mar. 1996)

Copies of Stewart letters, 1966-72, 1995

Folder 26 Russell Beedles (Addition Apr. 1996)

Copies of Stewart letters, 1971-78

Folder 27-30 Dr Ruth Niland (Addition Apr. 1996)

Typescripts of 'New phoenix wings including a ts of 'The exiled immortal' (see also series 10); tss of 'Autumn landscape roll' (see also series 11) and 'Uncollected poems and translations' (duplicate at series 15, folder 1)

Folder 31 Vonnie C. Cowan (Addition May 1996)

Stewart letters, 1975-84 including typescripts of the poems 'Nocturne', 'The immortal exile' and 'Morning on the Kamo bridge'

Folder 32 Milton Moon (Addition June 1996)

Laser copy of Stewart's funeral service, Kyoto, and copies of two letters from Hisao Inagaki (Pure Land Buddhist scholar) to Moon, 1995 relating to Stewart's death

Folder 32a Milton Moon (Addition 23 March 1998)

Stewart letters 1980-94: Restricted until 2025

Folder 33 David Miller (addition 2 Aug. 1996)

Stewart letters, 1972 and biographical note

Folder 34 Peter Kelly (Addition 28 Jan. 1997)

Stewart letters, 1970-95

Folder 35 Signed typescript manuscript of Stewarts 'Ode to the supernal, c.1956
Folder 36 Graham Fisher (Addition 19 December 1997)

Letters to Graham Fisher, Tony Straker and Guilford Bell, 1983-94

Folder 37 Henry Horwege (Addition 15 June 1998)

Stewart letters, 1969-91

Folder 38 John Paraskevopoulos (also known as Rev Joko Sama) (Addition 5 October 1999)

Stewart letters, 1994-95

Folder 39 Peter Grime (Addition 14 December 1999)

Stewart letters, 1993-95

Folder 40 Ian Hunt (Addition 3 March 2000)

Correspondence with Ian Hunt and photographs, 1993-1995

Folder 41 Graham Fisher (Addition 17 April 2007)

Aerogramme from Harold Stewart to Graham Fisher, 22 May 1983

Box List

Box Series Folder/pieces
1 1 1-2
1 2 1-6
2 7
2 3 1-7
3 8-15
4 16-23
5 24-31
6 32-36
7 41-47
7a 16 32a
8 48-55
9 56-62
10 63-69
11 70-73
11 4 1-4
12 5-6
12 5 1-3
13 6 1-2
13 7a 1-2
13 7b 1
14 2-4
13 7c 1
14 8 1
14 9 1
15 2-5
16 6
16 10 1-4
17 11 1-14
18 15-21
19 22-28
20 29-34
21 35-36
21 12 1-4
22 5-10
23 13 1-8
24 9-13
25 14 1
25 15 1-6
26 7-9
26 16 1-4
27 5-12
28 13-19
29 20-27
30 28-37
31 37-41