Guide to the Papers of John O'Grady

MS 8046 et al

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

John O'Grady
Papers of John O'Grady
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 8046 et al
1.93 metres (12 boxes, 1 packet, 1 folder)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

A summary list of his papers (based on list prepared by John O'Grady Junior)

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 John O'Grady, National Library of Australia, [class number, box number and series and/or file number]'.

Separated Materials

One quarter inch audio tape of Unstrung Bow, as broadcast by ABC radio in 1956, sent to Oral History.

Finding Aid Source(s)

Please note: This finding aid may comprise or contain descriptive information provided by donors, researchers and/or volunteers.

Collection Retrieval Advice

Please note: each consignment in this collection has a separate box number sequence (i.e. there may be multiple Box 1s). Please cite the relevant Class number as well as the Box number when requesting retrieval of material from the collection.

Biographical Note

Author. O'Grady was a qualified pharmacist and he had a variety of jobs, including serving with the Army Medical Service 1942-50 and working in Samoa 1956-1958. O'Grady's first and best known book is They're a weird mob, written in 1957 under the pseudonym of Nino Culotta.

Although born in Sydney, he spent much of his childhood on a remote New England farm and had no formal education until the age of twelve. He qualified as a pharmacist, but found the profession unsatisfying. In 1936 he began work as a commercial traveller selling medical goods. During WWII he served with the army Medical Service. He left the army in 1950 and worked as a pharmacist, builder's labourer, teacher of pharmacy for the NZ government in Samoa, and a fisherman. He wrote several books under the name of Nino Culotta. The most successful being They're a weird mob (1957), which was later made into a movie. He also wrote 16 books under his own name, as well as short stories and plays.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 8046. Original consignment

Comprises family and general correspondence, diaries and notebooks dating from 1942, handwritten and typewritten literary manuscripts (some of which are unpublished), press cuttings, ledgers and other financial records including royalty statements, legal documents and photographs relating to O'Grady's life after 1942. The collection also includes screen plays for They're a weird mob by Richard Imrie and On the beach by John Paxton, and the thesis, in English, "Erzähltechnik und soziale Probleme in Nino Culottas Romanen" by Friederike Stiegler (1975-1976).

Contained in 12 boxes.

Series [unnumbered]. Correspondence

File 1-2. Letters to Mary (Molly) Carrol, whom he later married (1945-47) - Box 1
File 3. Letters from Samoa (mainly) covering period before and after publication of Weird Mob", plus a few cards and letters from Europe (1956-60) - Box 1
File 4. Correspondence with Michael Powell and others concerning film scripts. Letters from actors. Hunting chapter deleted from They're a Weird Mob (1962-64) - Box 1
File 5. Letters from his sister Kathleen Casey (1974) - Box 1
File 6. Assorted letters, including fan letters, letters from ABC, letter to Ewart Wade of the Editors Guild (1957-80) - Box 1
File 7. Letters from Barrier Reef and Kingscliff, mainly concerning research for Gone Troppo, also includes period of Molly's cancer (1970) (1965-71) - Box 1
File 8. Newsday file - notes, letters, contract concerning column for new paper (1969) - Box 1
File 9-10. Correspondence between John O'Grady Jnr. and assorted persons concerning O'Grady work (1960-71) - Box 1

Series [unnumbered]. Diaries and Notebooks

File 11. Selected exercises for recruits, from P R.T manual, 1941, with no.1 Amendment, 1942 (notebook) - Box 2
File 12. Bahasa Melayu (handwritten course on how to speak Malay - handwriting and C of A notebook suggests war years) - Box 2
File 13. Nihon-go (handwritten course on how to speak Japanese in C of A notebook) - Box 2
File 14. Record of a voyage in HMAHS Manunda commencing July 5th 1945 (in C of A notebook) - Box 2
File 15. Voyage of HMAHS Manunda to Japan, March 9th to May 19th, 1946 (in C of A notebook) - Box 2
File 16. Sydney on the Bush, Mobil Run film script, Yesterday, Dictionary of Slang, New York World's fair; includes draft of first scene for Light me a Lucifer, drafts of Addo and Peto - Box 2
File 17. Projects '66-'67; includes ideas for a "Weird Mob" cartoon strip, New Guinea diary, Vietnam diary - Box 2
File 18. "Weird Mob" film treatment, Beatles concert, N.T diary, Pokin' around (rewritten and extended), profit out of Hey Snow - where's Paddy? film, 88 cents in your kirk; includes diary of trip to north Queensland (back cover of exercise book detached) - Box 2
File 19. Notes for Gone Gougin' and The Housekeeper for Melb Sun; includes diary of two trips to Lightning Ridge - Box 2
File 20. Aussie English 2, notes from north Queensland, Irish family mottos: includes end of Are you Irish or normal, second half of Aussie English (binding on spine is coming away) - Box 3
File 21. What did you say your name was? Al Porje, Brampton diary, play notes, Listen mate - Box 3
File 21. Yesterday: includes first chapter for Where's yourfeathers?, a thinly disguised autobiography about the war - Box 3
File 22. Includes The Originals, Integrated Adjective, Ecumenical, notes for commentary on Cyril Pearl's book So you want to be an Australian, draft screen play for They're a weird mob, and editing note for Gone fishin - Box 3
File 23. Weird Mob film (diary of the making of the film) - Box 3

Series [unnumbered]. Drafts (handwritten)

File 24. They're a Weird mob (presumed first draft, handwritten in minute book) - Box 3
File 25-26. They're a weird mob (handwritten, loose leaf, as sent from Samoa, with handwritten pages deleted from original manuscript) - Box 3
File 27-28. Cop this lot (handwritten in two notebooks) - Box 3
File 29-30. Gone fishin' (original title-Scaled and gutted) - Box 4
File 31. Always dreamin' or Saddle a white horse (draft of Gone Troppo) - Box 4
File 32-33. No kava for Johnny - Box 4
File 34-35. The things they do to you - Box 4
File 36. Gone gougin' - Box 4
File 37. Aussie Etiket, Smoky Joe - Box 5
File 38. Dog house cook book, columns for Melbourne Age (Newsday) - Box 5
File 39. Essays (so sue me) - Box 5
File 40. Aussie Grog (draft of Your shout, mate) - Box 5
File 41. There was a time (draft of There was a kid) - Box 5
File 42. Notes for Down Under Topside - Box 5
File 43. Down under to topside - Box 5
File 44. Irish stew - Box 5

Series [unnumbered]. Drafts (typewritten)

O'Grady typed all his manuscripts himself

File 45-46. Gone troppo - Box 6
File 47-48. Are you Irish or normal (with handwritten corrections) - Box 6
File 49-50. Are you Irish or normal (publishers paste-up) - Box 6
File 51-52. Are you Irish or normal (editors copy) - Box 6
File 53. Gone gougin' - Box 6
File 54. Aussie etiket - Box 6
File 55-56. Your shout, mate (much of this is handwritten) - Box 7
File 57. So sue me and other pieces - Box 7
File 58. Survival in the doghouse - Box 7
File 59-60. Down under to topside Stage Plays (most were written while he was running the Sydney Repertory Theatre) - Box 7
File 61. They're a weird mob (referred to in Samoan letters but never produced, handwritten loose-leaf pages, cardboard front and back covers detached) - Box 7
File 62. Handwritten drafts of Mr Slattersby, Green Olives, Unstrung Bow and Joseph of Arimathaea (written in war-time Italian medical records book) - Box 7
File 63. Mr Slattersley (three typed copies) - Box 8
File 64. Green Olives (two typed copies) - Box 8
File 65. The Valley (two typed copies) - Box 8
File 65. Unstrung Bow - Box 8
File 65. Joseph of Arimathaea - Box 8

Series [unnumbered]. Other manuscripts

File 66. There was a student (was to be second volume of his autobiography but his health was failing fast) - Box 8
File 67. Thieme Book, referred to in Samoan letters, written immediately after They're a weird mob but before publication, never published, written in a 1957 diary - Box 8
File 68. There was a ship (unfinished section of his autobiography) - Box 8
File 69. There was a ship (two typed copies) - Box 8
File 70. Come the revolution, The machine that went onka (two episodes of proposed radio serial for children, never submitted), Egoectomy, Uncle Fred's Christmas for Coast to Coast, 8th Mobil Economy Run diary and commentary for film - Box 8
File 71-72. Assorted essays - Box 9
File 73. "Weird Mob" tour of Vietnam, and "Light me a Lucifer" manuscript, TV play produced by ABC TV, December 1962 - Box 9
File 74-76. Short pieces - mainly columns but variously reproduced - Box 9
File 77. Verse - Box 9
File 78. Idiomatic version of Julius Cesare - incomplete (handwritten, cover of notebook detached) - Box 9
File 79. 'Specially on Sundays' - a comedy drama for television - Box 9

Series [unnumbered]. Miscellaneous

File 80. Screenplay for Weird Mob by Richard Imrie (with handwritten notes) - Box 9
File 81. They're a weird mob screenplay by Richard Imrie (with handwritten notes) - Box 10
File 82. They're a weird mob screenplay by Richard Imrie - Box 10
File 83. On the beach (screenplay by John Paxton; given to O'Grady while discussing Peck version of Weird Mob as film) - Box 10
File 84. Erzahtechnik and sociale probleme in Nino Culotta's Romanen (thesis with letters by Friederike Stiegler) - Box 10
File 85. File entitled "No kava for Johnny", includes press clippings, promotional material, copy of Australian writer and Dramatist, spring edition - Box 10
File 86-87. Two account books 1960-82, with letters - Box 10
File 88-89. Royalty statements (1959-70) - Box 10
File 90. 2 notebooks: listing gifts of money to family, and with itinerary for southern tour, expenses for trip to NT and QLD - Box 11
File 91-93. File entitled "Cop this lot", includes contracts and royalty statements 1957-76 - Box 11
File 94. Oatley house building contract 1959; copy of will - Box 11
File 95. File entitled "Film notes They're a weird mob et al”, includes assorted papers, including copy of Il progresso, December 25 1965 - Box 11
File 96. Quadrant, winter 1958 - Box 11
File 96. Script, screen and saac, Vol. 1, no. 6, 1968 - Box 11
File 96. ABTA Bulletin, January 22, 1966 - Box 11
File 97. Australasian Post, May 13 1965, June 17 1965 - Box 11
File 98. Gone fishin was researched on the George's River when he went professional fishing with local man Kenny Denis (photographs) - Box 11
File [unnumbered]. Box of black and white photographs, labelled "Pictorial record - Tokelau Islands", probably 1958, with negatives - Box 12
File [unnumbered]. Box of unidentified black and white photographs of Western Samoa, with negatives - Box 12

Class Acc08-174. Consignment added 2008

Comprises a box of slides that belonged to O'Grady. Subjects include Apia Samoa, Algernon Street Oatley, Tokelau Islands, Georges River, Atlantic Ocean and the Panama Canal.

Contained in 1 packet.

Class Acc11-060. Consignment added 2011

Comprises typescripts of poetry and one short story written by O'Grady. Some of the typescripts were compiled during the Second World War and subsequently when O'Grady was working as a pharmacist on the island of U'polo.

Contained in 1 folder.