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Series 2: Literary notebooks, 1930s-1970s

Over the course of his writing career, White kept a series of notebooks in which he recorded literary references and research notes which he used as background material for his writings. Several of the notebooks also include draft writings, including dialogues and character studies for White's literary works. Material relating to at least 11 of White's 12 novels (The tree of man (1955) appears to be the exception), 2 of White's dozen produced dramatic works and several short stories is contained in these notebooks.

 

Item 1 Notebook with handwritten French poems, c.1932-1935
Notebook, probably compiled while White was studying at the University of Cambridge, containing poems by Moreau, Hugo and other French writers, and handcopied into the volume by White in pen
Item 2 Notebook, including material for Happy Valley (1939), The living and the dead (1941), The aunt's story (1948) and Voss (1957), c.1939-1941
Small quarto, upper cover missing, in pencil and ink. Begins as a commonplace book with quotes from Butler, Lawrence, Proust, La Rochefoucauld, Samuel Johnson, Webster, Rene [Crevel?], William James, Tagore, Cervantes, Thomas Browne, Gandhi, Schwietzer, Picasso, Malraux, Montaigne, Katherine Mansfield, Berkeley, Pirandello, Thoreau. Includes handwritten notes, dialogues, research notes for plays: Miracle (1936), outline and characters; 'Marriages are made in Hell', outline and draft dialogue; 'Man alone', outline and characters; 'The island', outline; '[Pure?] [words?] - a novel'; 'Part 1, Australia'; 'Part 2, Europe'; 'Part 3, A period of hopelessness and chaos'; 'The man touching amber'; The aunt's story, outline; de Maistre family tree; 'It's a pity she is blind', characters and outline - Aunt Margaret, Rodney, Joan, Noella, and many lesser characters in scenes - 'Sunday afternoon at the manor', 'At the riding school...'; 'Kitty Raspaldo', characters - Chervil, Mrs Rogers, Bruno Hinschel; 'How many virgins', plot outline; 'The cosmopolitans', characters and plot outline. Also includes notes and observations on Hedda Gabler and Emma Bovary; scraps of dialogue, list of names, rehearsals, showing transition from poet and stage writer to the extended observations of the novelist; notes for 'On the train'; quote for The living and the dead - '...you can't neglect the belly to feed the soul'; aphorisms; notes with page references to The living and the dead, (relating to an advanced draft, pp20-366); 'Oliver and Alys'; draft chapter for Happy Valley, summary, outline, numerically listed points 1-33, draft chapter; 'No more love', list of characters, names, draft timeline calculating dates and ages for characters, scene breakdown; 'Leichhardt', notes for Voss.
Item 3 War journal, including material for The aunt's story (1948), c.1941
Exercise book (56pp), ruled, handwritten in ink and pencil. Begins with war journal entries (January-May 1941), then notes relating to: 'The woman who knew best'; 'Three poems from the desert'; a list of the titles of nine stories, including 'The twitching colonel' (published 1937), 'Cocotte', 'Diddy Dumpkins', 'The book makers', 'Ridley's here', 'The hyena', 'There's nothing like chintz', 'Road's end' and 'Chambers'; 2 war lyrics; 'Sudan blues'; reference to the 'jardin exotique' in The aunt's story; Theadora Goodman; short story 'The Hoxton rose'; quotes from Olive Schreiner at end of volume.
Item 4 Notebook, including material for Voss (1957), Riders in the chariot (1961) and A fringe of leaves (1976), c.1947-1976
St George brand exercise book, handwritten in pencil and blue ink. Contains research and preparation for Voss - Leichhardt, diction, terms, phrases, details for follow-up, prospective names and parts; dialogue (notes evolving into a novel), comprising exchanges in draft developing key themes and character dispositions. Also includes notes relating to: Riders in the chariot; notes in and from the German by Gershom Scholem on the Kabbalah; notes on Jewish thought and Hassidism (Alf Dubbo and Himmelfarb emerge on these pages); 'Brainstorm - What is love but a half hour with Liberace?'; Mitchell Library call slip for C.C. Petrie's Reminiscences of early Queensland, 9 October 1973, inserted; notes to background and historical detail for A fringe of leaves; timeline of records and events; notes on geography, topography and climate.
Item 5 Notebook containing research for Voss (1957), c.1955-1957
Small exercise book with 'Gro?e Fugel In B Flat Opus 133' [Beethoven] written on cover in White's hand; largely in pencil, some blue ink towards end of volume. Comprising research notes for Voss, principally relating to Leichhardt's 1846 expedition, including: timeline, 1846-1847; weather notes; copied map of Sydney, 1842; details of expedition supplies; notes on fashion; events; buildings; society; manners. Also includes bibliographic references and sources; 'Paddy O'Cock'; addresses and phone numbers in Athens and Alexandria.
Item 6 Notebook, including material for The solid mandala (1966), The vivisector (1970), Memoirs of many in one (1986), The eye of the storm (1973) and other works, c.1964-1976
Medium-sized notebook with faux marbled cover; entries by White, principally in pen. Includes: notes for The solid mandala; timeline, 1892-1964; 'Death of Waldo'; 'Points to develop in Arthur's story'; corrections to a presumed advanced draft; dialogue for Mrs Poulter; 'The cockatoos' (published 1974); miscellaneous quotes; 'A woman's hand'; 'Dolly Formosa and the happy few'; The vivisector, with references to an advanced draft; 'Memoirs of one in many' [sic] (published as Memoirs of many in one); military notes relating to 'AFC' (Australian Flying Corps), 1915-1919; 'Hunger? or The full belly?'; 'The vivisectionists' [sic]; timeline, names of characters, possible epigraphs; notes on The eye of the storm; 'Within the eye' characters; cyclones; short dialogue between a King, a Queen and a Prime Minister.
Item 7 Notebook, including material for A fringe of leaves (1976), 'For binoculars - Helen Nell', The Twyborn affair (1979), Netherwood (1983), Big toys (1977) and other works, c.1976-1983
Swain's brand small exercise book; in characteristic broad nib, blue ink and pencil; also ballpoint in red and blue. Comprising: notes relating to A fringe of leaves, including description of Fraser Island and other Queensland locations; character notes on Ellen Roxburgh; 'For binoculars - Helen Nell'; '1836'; 'Barbara Thompson'; 'Brisbane in the thirties'; The Twyborn affair; Netherwood; Big toys; 'The faery kingdom'; 'The monkey puzzle' (written c.1977), draft dialogue; notes on the history of Babylon; Netherwood, long dialogue; 'The empty chair', brief list of characters. Also a transcribed recipe for raw fish; with bibliographical references and Mitchell Library call slip (26 August 1981) included as inserts at end of volume.
Item 8 Notebook, containing draft material, 1970s-1980s
Spriax brand, foolscap. Comprising: first draft [?] handwritten manuscript in blue ballpoint with revision in red ballpoint of 'The last long weekend' radio play; family tree for 'Sir Benedict Moneypenny (Tug), Eleanor Clifton'; drafts of 'Four love songs', 'The park', 'The cat', 'The nun'; draft of 'III. My big American' radio play; notes beginning 'My memories of last Palm Sunday march...'.
Item 9 Notebook, containing draft material, 1970s-1980s
Foolscap torn-out sheets, 14pp, 14pp, 7pp. Comprising: 'Three [strikethrough] 2 love songs: The park, The cat, The nun [strikethrough]'; 'Memorial park'; 'I. The park'.
Item 10 Notebook, containing draft material, 1970s-1980s
Spirax brand, foolscap. Comprising 'Four [strikethrough] three (or four) love songs: The cat'.
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