Guide to the Papers of Wendy Beckett

MS 9084

National Library of Australia

Date completed: June 1997
Last updated: May 2001

Collection Summary

Creator: Beckett, Wendy, 1959-
Title: Papers of Wendy Beckett
Date Range: 1928-1997 (bulk 1987-1997)
Collection Number: MS 9084
Extent: 1.12 m (8 boxes) + 2 folio packets
Repository: National Library of Australia
Abstract: Correspondence, drafts, interviews, articles, press clippings, financial records and other papers relating to Beckett's writings, particularly her biography Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1992).


Scope and Content

The first part of the papers comprise interviews, articles, press clippings, correspondence, drafts, financial records and other papers maintained by Beckett while researching her biography Peggy Glanville-Hicks (Angus & Robertson, 1992). There are also papers relating to a proposed documentary film on Glanville-Hicks' life. Correspondents include Yehudi Menuhin, Gore Vidal, Leonard Bernstein, and Peter Sculthorpe.

The second part of the papers comprise drafts and final copies of Beckett's work, in particular her plays, including radio plays, and also an outline for an intended novel, a libretto for 'Beckett', transcripts of interviews by Beckett with Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles, proposals for using these interviews and other related papers.


The collection is available for reference.


The Library purchased the first instalment of the papers from Wendy Beckett in 1993. Beckett donated the second instalment in 1997 under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Related Material

Publications by Beckett, received with the second instalment, have been incorporated into the National Library's book collection.

Papers of Peggy Glanville-Hicks are held in the Manuscript Collection at MS 9083 and by the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Wendy Beckett, National Library of Australia, MS 9084, [series and/or folder number]'.

Biographical Note

Wendy Beckett was born in East Gippsland, Victoria in 1959 and worked as a journalist with the National Times and the Melbourne Age in the years 1976-1977.

Always interested in the theatre, she had her first play performed when she was nineteen and has since written many more.

As well as writing plays, she has worked as a school teacher, a print and radio journalist and a librettist. She has received literary grants from both the South Australian government and the Australia Council.

In 1982 Beckett completed a diploma of teaching and was the writer-in-residence at Kingston, South Australia, for writers week during the Adelaide Arts festival.

Beckett's biography Peggy Glanville-Hicks was published by Angus & Robertson in 1992.

Series List and Descriptions

Series 1 Peggy-Glanville Hicks: recorded interviews and transcript notes, 1988-1990

18 cassette tapes of interviews conducted by Beckett for the Glanville-Hicks' biography. All interviews are recorded on 90 minute tapes with the exception of 2 micro cassettes.

Folder 1 Interviews, 1989-1990

Including Carlos Surinach, 1989, Ralph Buckland, 1989, Oliver Daniels, 1989, Walter Trampler, 1989, Jack Murphy, 1989, Misa Criolla, Joe Jackson, John Butler, 1989, Virgil Thompson, 1989, Bernard Heiden, 1989, Coca Heiden, 1989, Roger Glanville-Hicks (two interviews), 1990, and Peggy Glanville-Hicks (two interviews).

Folder 2 Interviews, 1988-1989

Including Robert Graves, John Cage, 1989, Ester Rolfe, Caroline Buckland, Yehudi Menuhin, 1988-1989, and two unidentified tapes.

Folder 3-4 Various notes and transcripts from taped interviews

Series 2 Peggy-Glanville Hicks: research material, 1928-1991

The research material includes photocopies of various articles by and about Peggy Glanville-Hicks. There are press clippings relating to Stanley Bate (Glanville-Hicks' husband) as well as numerous photographs. Included are introductory ideas for the biography and chapter headings.

Folder 1-2 Copies of articles by and about Glanville-Hicks, 1950-1991

Includes a copy of the program for the opera Nausicaa and program notes from the opera Transposed Heads.

Folder 3-4 Articles relating to some of Glanville-Hicks' friends, 1928-1988

Including Carlos Surinach, John Butler and Paul Bowles. There is also a magazine entitled Come 2 featuring an article on Glanville-Hicks and a program of lunchtime concerts held at the Powerhouse Museum.

Folder 5 Time-line of major events in Peggy Glanville-Hicks' life from 1912 to 1988

There is also a photocopy of a 'Sonata for piano' written in 1951 by Glanville-Hicks and a copy of 'A bibliographic study on the resources by and about Peggy Glanville-Hicks' by Joel Crotty.

Folder 6-7 List of compositions by Peggy Glanville-Hicks and biographical information about her.

There are press clippings relating to Stanley Bate, 1955-1956 collected by Durrants Press Cuttings, London and a listing of all his works. Photographs of Kardiani Tinos and her home in Athens, Glanville-Hicks' home in Paddington, Sydney as well as photographs of her with various people including Yehudi Menuhin and Wendy Beckett. There are also portrait photos of Carlos Surinach and John Cage.

Folder 8 Various hand written notes and information for use in the biography as well as rough sketches of chapters
Folder 9 Information covering the years 1940 to 1950

The notes are not organised and include ideas for various chapter headings.

Series 3 Peggy-Glanville Hicks: correspondence, 1987-1990

Letters requesting interviews and information with various people including Gore Vidal, Leonard Bernstein and Yehudi Menuhin. There is also a letter of introduction from Peter Sculthorpe and notes and addresses of meetings and venues.

1 Folder

Series 4 Peggy-Glanville Hicks: film documentary, 1989

In 1989 a script development agreement was signed between Wendy Beckett and The Australian Film Commission to produce a documentary film on the life of Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Wendy Bennett was the script-writer and Peter McClean was hired to direct the project. Although there is a pre-sale synopsis of the documentary there is no information regarding the completion of the project.

The correspondence in includes letters to Phillip Adams (2UE), NSW Film and Television Office, ABC Documentary Division, SBS, Australian Film Commission, Channel 4 TV (UK), Central Independent Television (UK), BBC, Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation.

Folder 1 Correspondence requesting support for the film documentary, 1989

Also includes a photocopy of a letter from Glanville-Hicks giving permission for Wendy Beckett and Peter McClean to produce a documentary of their life and a script development agreement between the Australian Film Commission and Wendy Beckett, 1989.

Folder 2 Handwritten draft of the film submission; pre-sale synopsis of the documentary; 1st and 2nd draft of the documentary script.
Folder 3 Two copies of the film synopsis as well as various notes regarding the film and its budget.

Series 5 Peggy-Glanville Hicks: drafts of the biography, 1991

Folder 1 Initial drafts of biography in chapter sequence (Chapters 0-5)
Folder 2 Chapters 6-11 of the initial draft
Folder 3 First corrections of the original draft
Folder 4 Second draft of biography
Folder 5-6 Chapters 1-8 of the draft biography with comments made by the editor for the work, Drusilla Modjeska of Allen and Unwin publishers

Includes a letter from Drusilla Modjeska to Wendy Beckett regarding editing issues, 1991

Folder 7 Chapters 9-11 of the draft biography with comments by Modjeska, 1991
Folder 8 Corrections to chapters 4-7 of the biography after Modjeska's comments

Includes some written notes regarding later chapters of the work.

Folder 9 Final edits of chapters 1-7 with comments by Modjeska
Folder 10 Chapters 5-10 after final edits

Series 6 Peggy-Glanville Hicks: financial statements and accounts, 1989-1990

Financial statements from the ANZ bank regarding payments and expenditures made by Wendy Beckett. This material includes two ANZ cheque books, ANZ bank statements and a report on the expenditure of the budget.

1 Folder

Series 7 Plays, 1980-1997

This series consists mainly of manuscripts and working notes of plays written by Beckett. There are also published versions of her plays. Handwritten notes by Beckett accompany the scripts, giving, for example, comments on the progress of a script, a note about the alternative endings of 'Isadora Duncan', where a play was first performed, and a brief background to the writing of the play, The drafts and working notes for 'Charity' are in order from the latest notes to the first draft notes, giving a good example of the process of writing a play.

Folder 1 'Anaïs Nin - one of her lives'

Second and third drafts, hand bound draft, 1992, one of about 20 copies sold out by Glebe Books, together with copy of published work, 1992.

Folder 2 'Charity'

Final version, performed under Beckett's direction at Belvoir Street Theatre in 1997.

Folder 3-11 'Charity'

Working back from the latest notes to the first draft notes, comprising mainly 17 typescripts, some with hand written annotations.

Folder 12 'D.A.T.I.S. : Down Among the Industrial Statues'

Draft typescript of a play funded by the Painters and Dockers and performed at their Port Adelaide Hall about 1981.

Folder 13 'The Glebe Point Road', subtitled 'This is your life'

Typescript of the comedy play by Wendy Beckett and Janet Hyde.

Folder 14 'Gross'

First, second and third drafts, and final annotated script used in the theatre for the first theatre play written by Beckett. Also Gross, Regression, Partake, three plays (1993).

Folder 15-16 'Hester'

Four drafts, one including comments by Audrey Blake. Also includes handwritten notes, correspondence, budget sheet and review.

Folder 17 'Isadora Duncan', 1983

Drafts of the play, which went on a national tour in the mid to late 1980s.

Folder 18 'Par-Take' and 'Regression'

Script of 'Par-Take', written in 1980-81. First to third drafts of 'Regression', the third draft containing stage notes, together with final script.

Folder 19 'Trilogy of women: three biographical plays, Joy Hester, Anaïs Nin, Isadora Duncan'

Final draft of all three plays put together for publication, 1996.

Folder 20 'Voices in the dream'

First and second drafts and final script, 1986. The play was never performed, although Beckett gave readings from it.

Folder 21 'Yankway'

Annotated directing copy and final script, a letter from the Adelaide State Theatre returning the script and tickets for the The Stables performance, 1996.

Series 8 Opera libretto: 'Beckett', c. 1990

'Beckett' was the last piece of music on which Peggy Glanville-Hicks worked. Although Wendy Beckett heard Glanville-Hicks play the music, she does not know if the work exists as Glanville-Hicks died before its completion.

Beckett worked with Glanville-Hicks to write libretto for the music.

1 Folder

Series 9 Other writings, 1981-1989

A miscellaneous series of Beckett's writings, mostly with a number of works in spiral bound volumes. It includes some of her earliest work. There are some related papers, such as correspondence with the ABC and publishers.

Folder 1 Collection of writings

Includes draft scripts of 'Par-Take', 'Refugee's', 'Sweeping up after the Onions' and the first draft of the early chapters of a novel 'Sitting Still', together with notes of the novel's intended direction and feedback from a friend working in film.

Folder 2-3 Collection of little stories, poems, plays etc written when Beckett was in her early 20s
Folder 4-6 Articles, drafts of a radio play, first draft of a novel written at the age of 16 or 17 and related papers, such as ABC payment advice, 1989, and rejection letters, 1981.

Series 10 Transcripts of interviews for the ABC, 1989-1990

The series consists mainly of transcripts for interviews by Beckett with Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles. There are also some accompanying notes, such as the wording of an introduction for the Durrell interview and production notes and a proposal for using the interviews.

Folder 1 Outline of proposal for using interviews with Paul Bowles, Lawrence Durrell and Gore Vidal and the proposal for a series of literary interviews including those with Durrell and Bowles, 1989-1990
Folder 2-3 Transcripts of interviews for the ABC with Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles, 1989-1990

Series 11 Other papers

This is a small series consisting of reviews of Beckett's early plays, mostly undated, and artwork for some of her later plays.

Folder 1 Reviews of early plays, a flyer for 'Writers in the Park' and artwork for later plays
Folio 2-3 Artwork for later plays

Container List

Series Folder/Item Box
1 1-4 1
2 1-4 1
3 5-9 2
1 2
4 1 2
2-3 3
5 1-5 3
6-10 4
6 1 4
7 1 4
2-9 5
10-17 6
18-21 7
8 1 7
9 1-4 7
5-6 8
10 1-3 8
11 1 8
2 Folio
3 Folio