Papers of Geoffrey Fairbairn (1924 - 1980)
Scope and Content Note
1832-1982 (bulk 1959-80)
1.96m (14 boxes) + 1 folio box
Access to Series 5 is restricted; access to the remainder of collection is also restricted until access is determined.
The papers were acquired in 1998 from Fairbairns wife, Anne
Fairbairn, under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.
The papers consist of general correspondence, family correspondence and
papers, including correspondence of Anne Fairbairn, notecards, 32 notebooks,
manuscripts and typescripts relating to Fairbairns writings, journals,
family photographs, and ephemera. There is also a large collection of newspaper
clippings, and miscellaneous items including a South Vietnamese flag, a 45rpm
vinyl record, and a tape recording of Fairbairns funeral service.
The papers in the collection provide a very good selection of
Fairbairns writings, particularly those relating to Southeast Asian
politics, the Vietnam War and guerrilla warfare. Also, the career of
Fairbairns father, James Valentine Fairbairn, during the time he was
Federal Minister for Air (1939-40) in the Menzies Ministry is well documented
in a book of newspaper clippings from 1940.
A number of items in the collection are in very poor condition, due to
the effects of damp and mould. Anne Fairbairn has annotated many of the
As the papers were in considerable disarray, the Library has imposed its
own arrangement on the papers.
Geoffrey Forrester Fairbairn was a Reader in History at the Australian
National University, Canberra, and a well respected commentator on Southeast
Fairbairn was born in Melbourne on 6 October 1924. He was the son of
James Valentine Fairbairn, who was Minister for Air in 1939-40 in the first
Menzies Ministry. His father died tragically in an air disaster in Canberra in
1940. The RAAF Fairbairn Base in Canberra was named in his honour in 1941.
Fairbairn attended Geelong Grammar School, leaving early to serve with
the Royal Australian Navy during World War II. After demobilisation, he went on
to obtain a Degree of Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge University in 1949. He
then spent some time in Australia working on the familys property in
Victoria, before returning to England where he tried (unsuccessfully) to write
novels. In 1961 Professor Manning Clark, who had been one of Fairbairns
teachers at Geelong Grammar School, offered him a lectureship in History at the
Australian National University, which he accepted. He remained with the
University until his retirement in 1979.
Fairbairn travelled extensively in Southeast Asia, and developed an
abiding interest in the politics of the region. By the late 1960s, he was
regarded as one of the leading conservative analysts of the Vietnam War and
Southeast Asian affairs generally. Fairbairn became the countrys foremost
expert on the theory of guerrilla warfare, publishing two books on the
Fairbairn was married twice. In 1945 he married Rosamund, daughter of
the 13th Lord Clifford of Chudleigh. They had three children. They were
divorced, and in 1965 he married Anne Body, neé Reid, granddaughter of
Sir George Reid. Fairbairn died in London of lung cancer on 11 September
Fairbairns publications include:
· Revolutionary warfare and communist strategy: the threat to
South-East Asia, Faber, 1968
· Revolutionary guerrilla warfare: the countryside
version, Penguin, 1974
1 General correspondence, 1959-79
2 Fairbairns writings, 1961-79
4 Newspaper cuttings and journals, 1940-80
5 Family correspondence and papers, 1936-82 (bulk 1970-80) RESTRICTED
6 Miscellaneous, 1832, 1877, 1959-80
Series 1 General correspondence, 1959-79
Fairbairn had an extensive network of friends, including many who shared
his conservative values. This series comprises a small collection of
correspondence from both friends and colleagues. Principal correspondents
include John Bennetts, Gerald Caine, Axel Clark, Manning Clark, Pat Connelly,
Sir James Darling, Ken Gee, John Gorton, Bill Heseltine, Brian Hill, A.G.W.
(Bill) Keys, John Manifold, B.A. Santamaria, Bob Swan, Jim Taylor, and Denis
Folder 3 contains correspondence from Vladimir Lezak-Borin, a prominent
Czechoslovakian Communist who migrated to Australia in 1952 and became a close
friend of Fairbairn.
The correspondence has been sorted by year.
1-2 Letters from friends and colleagues (1959-79). Also included are
letters from B.A. (Bob) Santamaria regarding the development of a Code of
Principles for the Defend Australia Committee and typescript
notes for discussion (1965).
3 Correspondence between Fairbairn and Vladimir Lezak-Borin. Included
are two photographs of Lezak-Borin, 1961-68. (See also Series 6)
4 Correspondence, mainly with publishers Faber and Faber, relating to
publication and promotion of Fairbairns book Revolutionary warfare
and communist strategy: the threat to South-East Asia, 1968, 286pp.
Included is a review of the book. (See also Series 2)
Series 2 Fairbairns writings, 1961-79
This series comprises papers, mostly undated, relating to
Fairbairns writings. They include notes, draft typescript of articles,
seminar papers, notecards and loose pages of poetry, prose and fiction. Also
included are copies of Fairbairns two books about guerrilla warfare, as
well as bound typescript of two unpublished works of fiction.
(See also Series 3 and 4)
1 Notes and draft typescripts of articles. Topics include guerrilla
warfare, Vietnam, terrorism, and Southeast Asian politics. Also included are
handwritten notes made by Fairbairn while he was in Vietnam (1968).
2 Typescript of miscellaneous writings. They include book reviews, the
outline for a work on Vietnam, book chapters and numerous loose pages. Topics
include colonialism, imperialism, and an account by Fairbairn of an experience
in Borneo in World War II and a trip to Southeast Asia in 1951. Also included
are draft typescripts of two pieces about Vietnam, entitled Cordon and
Search and Operation Oakleigh.
3-4 Papers relating to Fairbairns work as an academic. They
include notes, tutorial topics, exam questions, and typescript notes on Muslim
India for lecture presentations. Also included is a copy of an essay by Stephen
Holt entitled James Mills history of British India: the historian as
5Copies of papers from two seminars at which Fairbairn was a speaker.
The first was a seminar on the Provincial Press held at the
University of New England in May 1968, and the second was a seminar on
China and the future of Southeast Asia organised by the Australian
Institute of International Affairs (A.I.I.A.) in July 1968. Also included is
the draft of an address to the Queensland National Party (1979).
6-7 Notecards and loose pages of handwritten and typed poetry and prose
(1961-79). Also included are handwritten and typescript drafts of short stories
and book chapters.
8 Copy of Fairbairns book Revolutionary warfare and communist
strategy: the threat to South-East Asia, Faber, 1968. The book contains
copies of reviews and several congratulatory letters. (See also Series 1)
9-10 Two copies of Fairbairns book Revolutionary guerrilla
warfare: the countryside version, Penguin, 1974. One copy is an
uncorrected proof, and the other is a paperback edition inscribed For
, 16 October 1979.
11 Typescript draft of an unpublished novel The Peking microbe: a
story of German warfare or alternative title Across the river is
12 Typescript draft of an unpublished novel The shabby
Series 3 Notebooks
This series comprises a number of notebooks kept by Fairbairn, mostly
undated. The majority contain rough notes, quotations and random jottings. Many
comprise only several pages of notes, with the remainder of the notebook blank.
Several of the notebooks contain writings mainly relating to Southeast Asian
politics, and these have been grouped together. In the remainder of the
notebooks there are writings on a variety of topics, often with several topics
covered in the one notebook. These topics include world politics, art,
religion, and travel notes.
1 Notebook containing miscellaneous notes, jottings, scraps of prose,
notes for articles and an idea for a novel. They cover a wide range of topics,
and many appear to be political and social observations made while Fairbairn
was in the United Kingdom. Also included is a typescript of a paper entitled
Random notes on England, 1961.
2 Notebook containing manuscript of an unpublished novel The
island and the flame or The island and the fire, plus other
3 - 4 Twelve notebooks, mostly relating to Southeast Asian politics.
5 - 7 Eighteen notebooks covering a variety of topics.
Series 4 Newspaper clippings and journals,
Fairbairn published widely in a variety of journals, newspapers and
magazines. This series comprises the collection of newspaper clippings and
journals he compiled of his writings. Topics mainly relate to Southeast Asian
politics and the Vietnam War.
A number of the clippings have been photocopied, due to the poor
condition of the original.
1 The contents of a scrapbook of newspaper clippings. They consist of a
collection of articles written by Fairbairn on issues relating to Southeast
Asia, the Middle East, China, and Vietnam, as well as book reviews (1967-68).
Also included is a collection of articles by other authors on issues relating
to India, Japan and Malaysia, mostly from the journal Far Eastern Economic
2 Journals which contain articles written by Fairbairn, mostly relating
to the Vietnam War. They include Australian Outlook, Current Affairs
Bulletin, Dissent, Hawk, Hemisphere, Nation, News Weekly, Pacific
Community, Pacific Defence Reporter, Prospect, and Vietnam
3. Journal and newspaper clippings of articles, reviews and letters to
the editor written by Fairbairn, and mostly relating to Southeast Asian
4 Newspaper clippings of articles by other authors, many relating to
Vietnam and Southeast Asian politics, 1957-79.
5 Newspaper clippings, 1941-73. Included are reports of the naming of
Canberra Aerodrome as the Fairbairn Aerodrome, in memory of Fairbairns
father (1941), and a copy of the journal Stand to containing an
article about the air disaster in which Fairbairns father was killed.
Folio 1 A large scrapbook of newspaper and journal clippings of
articles, letters to the editor, and book reviews written by Fairbairn, and
covering a range of topics, 1962-64.
Folio 2 A scrapbook of newspaper clippings from 1940, relating to
Fairbairns father, James Valentine Fairbairn, who was the Federal
Minister for Air (1939-40).
Series 5 Family correspondence and papers, 1936 82 (bulk
This series mainly comprises personal correspondence between Fairbairn and members of his family, together with other related papers. The correspondence has been sorted by year.
Note: access to Series 5 is RESTRICTED.
Series 6 Miscellaneous, 1832, 1877, 1959-80
This series contains a miscellaneous collection of material, including
papers, journals and ephemera.
1 Writings of Vladimir Lezak-Borin, mostly undated. Included are copies
of booklets: How to betray your country (about Lenin and communism),
The protectorate of Czechoslovakia and This may happen to you
(about the Vietnam War), with an introduction by Fairbairn. Also included are
typescripts of a number of short pieces on issues relating to communism, and
typescripts of two larger works, one entitled Human Manifesto. (See
also Series 1)
2 Typescript of a series of short stories on marriage and relationships
by Mrs Miroslava Kramer (a friend of Lezak-Borin).
3-4 Thirty copies of the journal Nation, 1969-72.
5-6 Copies of papers presented at a conference Fairbairn attended on
New foundations for Asian and Pacific Security, Pattaya, Thailand,
7 Copies of six papers presented at a seminar entitled Loss of
faith as reflected in Australian literature of the late 19th and early
20th centuries, held by the Christopher Brennan Society, Wesley College,
University of Sydney, 1978. The papers were presented by Vincent Buckley,
Manning Clark, Dorothy Green, A.D. Hope, Patrick Morgan and Elizabeth Perkins.
Also included are copies of Tribune, 1977 and Clarion,
8 This folder contains the following items:
A Christmas card from Harold and Zara Holt to Fairbairns mother
and stepfather (1964), a letter from Sir Robert Menzies to Fairbairns
mother (1967), a copy of the memorial service for Harold Edward Holt in
Westminster Abbey, London (1968), a copy of the memorial service for Lt. Col.
Frederick Spencer Chapman, London (1971), a small book The imitation of
Christ given to Fairbairn in 1953 by Reg Keating, a booklet Warning to
the Western world by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1976), a coloured print of a
work entitled Summer Bounty by Albert Williams (1959), and two news
banners, one announcing the death of Lord Casey (1976) and one with the heading
The Bulletin January 8, 1966/Geoffrey Fairbairns Vietnam/Memories
of a Jewish Boyhood. Also included are a roneoed copy of a typescript
letter, dated 1832, from J. Woolley (Professor Joseph Woolley) to his father,
describing his arrival in Sydney and his first impressions; a typescript
account by P.S. Lang (1968) of The death of William Ruddock, an
employee of Mt Elephant Station (the Fairbairns family property) who died
in 1857; and a photograph of a cricket team with the notation The
Jolimonters at Adelaide 1877.
9 One South Vietnamese flag, and a 45 rpm vinyl record entitled
Wisdom of years, by Major the Rev. John Fall, Rhodesian Army Corps of
Created April 1999. Modified October 2005.