National Library of Australia
The collection includes: general and publishers' correspondence; unpublished literary magazines edited and containing contributions by Mathew; typescripts of plays, poems and articles; hand drawn programs and flyers; sketchbooks by Pixie O'Harris; artwork; cuttings books; photographs; and printed material including programs, music, pamphlets and books. Early correspondence describes the Australian literary and theatrical scene from the 1940s until the early 1960s. Major correspondents include William H. Peters, Pixie O'Harris, Russell Cope, Nancy Keesing, Eunice Hanger, Christopher Koch and Tony Hippisley. Other correspondents include Charles and Barbara Blackman, Alec Bolton, Richard Bonynge, Vincent Buckley, David Campbell, Nancy Cato, Clem Christesen, Manning Clark, Tom Dimes, Rosemary Dobson, Geoffrey Dutton, Miles Franklin, James Gidley, Mary Gilmore, Oriel Gray, Myfanwy Horne, Guy Howarth, Don Maynard, Ian Mudie, Hal Porter, Robin Pratt (daughter of Pixie O'Harris), David Rowbotham, Roland Robinson, Eric and Olga Schlunke, Tom Shapcott, Vivian Smith, Douglas Stewart and Patrick White.
The collection is available for reference.
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Ray Mathew, National Library of Australia, MS 8264, [series/file number]'.
A first instalment of two cartons of papers was received by the Library in 1990 from Mathew's sister Lorraine Sankey, with whom they had been left by Mathew when he departed Australia in 1960. The Library purchased these papers in 1991 from Mathew who was at that time living in New York. After Mathew's death there in 2002, three cartons of papers were donated in 2002 and two cartons in two instalments in 2003, by Mrs Eva Kollsman (with whom Mathew was living at the time of his death). A final instalment of four cartons was donated to the Library in 2006 by Jeff Hyland, executor for both Mathew and Mrs Kollsman (who died in 2005).
Since the first consignment was received in 1990, the collection has undergone three phases of arrangement. The initial instalment was arranged and described in 1991 and comprised nine boxes in seven series. In 2005, three years after Mathew's death, several instalments received between 2002-2004 were added to the original series arrangement. An additional two series were created to accommodate diaries not previously represented in the collection and a substantial amount of photographs. A final instalment received in 2006 was organised in 2007 and at that time all instalments were consolidated into a single series sequence.
The final 2007 series arrangement differs from the original arrangement of 1991 as follows: in general the original 1991 material in each series appears at the beginning of each series, with later instalments incorporated consecutively (ie 1991, followed by 2002-2004, followed by 2006); Series 1-6 have been retained; Series 7 has been renamed 'Printed material: press cuttings and programs', with books previously included in this series moved to Series 8, Printed material: books (two folders now in Box 24 are the only items from the 1991 arrangement previously in Series 7); another two series have been added - Series 9, Diaries and notebooks and Series 10, Photographs.
For identification of the folders relating to each instalment, see the Record of Instalments at the end of this guide. Researchers seeking to locate material listed in the first Guide to the Papers of Ray Mathew (1991) should refer firstly to the Record of Instalments table for 1991 material and secondly to the Container List for the location of specific folders from that instalment.
Literary manuscripts of Mathew are held at MS 718, MS 5633, MS 5634 and MS 10018.
Mathew correspondence appears in the R.L. Cope Papers (MS 3421), Rosemary Dobson Papers (MS 4955), Geoffrey Dutton Papers (MS 7285), Nancy Keesing Papers (MS 5378), Pixie O'Harris Papers (MS 4800), Vivian Smith Papers (MS 4853) and Colin Thiele Papers (MS 8556).
An annotated script, review, program and photographs of Mathew's play 'Sing for St Ned' are held at MS 9776.
Reviews, Mathew's 'Notes for producers and others' and a program for Mathew's play 'We find the bunyip' are held at MS 10014.
Personal recollections by Robin Tranter of Ray Mathew are held at MS 9851.
Photographs of a young Ray Mathew with the Cope family are held in the Pictures Collection at PIC/9024/1-7 LOC Box PIC/9024.
Poetry readings by Ray Mathew are held by the Oral History Collection at ORAL TRC 1/66, ORAL TRC 1/77 and ORAL TRC 1/244.
Mathew's published plays, poetry, stories and a novel are listed on the Library's catalogue.
Material held in repositories other than the National Library of Australia. Playscripts of Mathew's plays are held in the Hanger Collection of Australian Playscripts at the the Fryer Library, University of Queensland and in the Campbell Howard Collection of Australian Plays housed in the Dixson Library at the University of New England, Armidale NSW. Mathew correspondence appears in the following collections at the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW: Kate Jennings Papers (MLMSS); Pixie O'Harris Papers (MLMSS 7558); and L.L. Woolacott Papers (MLMSS 7142).
'Ray Mathew awaits the critical attention he deserves. In retrospect, his was the most innovative mind ... His work also foreshadowed the more indigenous new forms that emerged in the 1960s.'
So declared Katharine Brisbane, co-founder of Currency Press, in 1995. Ray Mathew was predominantly a playwright, but also a poet, and writer of short stories, a novelist, an author of non-fiction, and an art and literary critic. Influenced by the writings of Rimbaud, Lorca, Verlaine, Browning and Christopher Brennan, his creative output includes three anthologies of poetry, poems for magazines such as The bulletin, a novel, The joys of possession, and radio plays and film scripts. He also wrote studies of Miles Franklin, whom he much admired and finally met in the 1950s at a poetry reading, and Charles Blackman, with whom he became friends in London in the 1960s. Mathew was also close to Barbara Blackman, Pixie O'Harris, Rosemary Dobson, Patrick White, Nancy Keesing and Donald Horne.
Born in Sydney in 1929, Mathew lived first in Leichhardt, and then moved with his family to Bondi at the age of 12. He attended Sydney Boys High School and later Sydney Teachers College. He taught in New South Wales country schools for three years, from 1949 to 1951. While in Derriwong (near Condoblin) - where his best-known play, A Spring Song, is set - he had his first poem accepted for publication in The bulletin, under the literary editorship of Douglas Stewart, who would become a lifelong mentor. His last teaching post was in Ironbark and it was here that he made the decision to become a writer. In his diary, he outlined the conditions necessary to this end: no wife or children, no nine-to-five job. Returning to Sydney, he gave adult education lectures at the University of Sydney, wrote reviews for The Sydney morning herald and worked at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). There he met fellow writer, Mena Abdullah, and together they wrote The time of the peacock, a collection of short stories.
In 1960, Mathew boarded a boat for London, via Naples, and never returned to Australia. He had won a British Arts Council bursary for drama - the first Commonwealth writer to do so. Mathew loathed his first year in London. He had little money and hated the cold. Furthermore his play, The Life of the Party, which was a finalist in the London Observer competition and which he was waiting to see produced, failed to attract critical acclaim. However, he eventually found his niche and over the next few years, undertook a variety of jobs: editorial work for The transatlantic review, typing newscasts for BBC television, and working as a barman in an actors' club. He also continued to write, producing his only novel, The joys of possession.
Much later in life, Mathew told Kate Jennings that the real reason he left Australia was the 'mess' in which he had found his personal, emotional and professional life at the time. In his play, A spring song, one of the characters, a country schoolteacher, offers further insight into Mathew's reasons for leaving:
'Peter: I couldn't [stay in the town]. It's too close for me, too small and too big ... I will go away. It turns out I need a city. You can be lonely and not lonely in the city. Here, you're on top of people, they're never away from you. And never close, I suppose. And I can't see things. I need to go away.'
In 1968, Mathew left London for New York, with the promise of a publishing project. Here he befriended the German-American engineer, Paul Kollsman, and his wife, Eva, and spent the rest of his days sharing their uptown apartment. With their connections in the art and film worlds, Mathew easily immersed himself in New York's literary life. He worked freelance and as an art writer until his death from cancer in 2002 at the age of 73.
Hailed a promising writer in the 1950s and, more specifically, a 'trailblazer' of Australian theatre, Mathew had no new plays or books published after 1967. He believed that his early critical acclaim came to stifle his creative impulse. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that Mathew played a significant role in the artistic life of Australia in the 1950s and 1960s.
Excerpt from An Australian for life : Ray Mathew, compiled by Sarah Gleeson-White, Canberra : National Library of Australia, 2005, pp. 1-2.
Note: Discrepancies occur between dates from different sources. In addition no other documentary evidence has been found for some information taken from Mathew's resume.
Mathew, Ray. 'Resume', MS 8264/2/4, c. 1981
Shapcott, Thomas. 'Introduction', Uncollected prose of Ray Mathew : tense little lives. Canberra : National Library of Australia, 2007
Who's who of Australian writers. Port Melbourne : D.W. Thorpe in association with National Centre for Australian Studies, 1991
|1929||14 April, born Sydney, son of Frank Leslie James Mathew and Lily Elizabeth Ann (Latta) Mathew|
|1947-1949||Sydney Teachers' College|
|1949-1951||Teacher in outback NSW schools|
|1950||Founded Tottenham (NSW) Drama Society and produced and acted in its productions|
|1950||Play 'Church Sunday' (second prize National Theatre Movement Author's Competition, Ballarat)|
|1950||Play 'Puppet love'|
|1951||Actor, Forbes Drama Society|
|195?||Actor, reader, advisor, Mermaid Theatre, Sydney|
|c. 1951||Play 'Sing for St Ned' (runner up Commonwealth Jubilee award, produced Brisbane c. 1961, Sydney)|
|1951||With Cypress Pine (verse), published by Lyre-Bird Writers|
|1951-1952||Freelance journalist, Sydney|
|1952||ABC verse radio play 'The love of Gautama'|
|1952||Grace Leven Prize for poetry (letter of commendation)|
|1952-1954||Accounts officer, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Sydney|
|1953||Play 'The boomerang and the bunyip' (produced Sydney Mercury Theatre)|
|1954||ABC verse radio play (adaptation) 'The Medea of Euripides'|
|1955||'We find the bunyip' (runner up Playwrights' Advisory Board, Sydney, produced Wollongong, Sydney)|
|1955||Play A spring song|
|1955-1960||Tutor and lecturer in drama at University of Sydney and in drama and literature for the Workers' Education Association, NSW|
|c. 1956||'The boomerang and the bantam' (unpublished)|
|1956||Song and dance (verse), published by Lyre-Bird Writers|
|1956-1957||Writer, Dept of the Interior (Film Division)|
|1957||Plays 'Lonely without you' (runner up Tasmanian Mercury Play Competition) and 'The bones of my toe'|
|1957||Play 'The life of the party' finalist in the London Observer international play competition|
|1957||Commonwealth Literary Fellowship|
|1957||Play A spring song, Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust reading, Melbourne (later produced Brisbane, Sydney, Edinburgh, London, Canadian TV)|
|1958||Commonwealth Literary Fund Grant for first two books of verse and first two collections of stories|
|1958||Play A spring song (produced Brisbane)|
|c. 1959||Commonwealth Literary Fund Lectures on Australian writing, University of Adelaide|
|1960||Leaves for Europe, spending time in Italy before arriving in London|
|1960||Arts Council of Great Britain bursary for drama, London|
|1960||'The life of the party' produced, London|
|1961||A Bohemian affair (short stories), published by Angus and Robertson|
|1961||A spring song (play), published by Queensland University Press|
|1961||South of the equator (verse), published by Angus and Robertson|
|1961||'The life of the party' produced Edinburgh Fringe Festival|
|1963||Miles Franklin (criticism), published by Lansdowne Press|
|1962||'The bones of my toe' produced Newcastle|
|1964||A spring song produced London and Edinburgh|
|1964-1966||Lives in Italy, returning to London in 1966|
|1965||(With Mena Abdullah) The time of the peacock (stories), published by Angus and Robertson (reissued 1967, 1992)|
|1965||Charles Blackman's painting, published by Georgian House|
|1966||TV adaptation 'A spring song' (Canada)|
|1966-1968||TV/film episodes co-written with Alvin Rakoff, London|
|1967||The joys of possession (novel), published by Chapman and Hall|
|1967||Suicide of Tony Hippisley|
|1968||Royal Society of Authors grant|
|1968||(With J. McKinney and S. Locke Elliot) Khaki, bush and bigotry: three Australian plays, published by University of Minnesota Press|
|1968||Arrives New York with fellow expatriate poets, Peter Porter and Charles Osborne|
|1970||Screenplays 'Training champions', 'Pearl of the Pacific'|
|1971||Storyline for 'Say hello to yesterday' USA|
|1981-?||Senior editor and art critic for Art/world, New York|
|1965||(With Mena Abdullah) The time of the peacock (stories), published by Vanguard|
|1985||A spring song (play), published by Currency Press|
|1965||(With Mena Abdullah) The time of the peacock (stories), published by Sirius|
|2002||27 May, dies New York, aged 73|
Hanger, Eunice. 'The lonely playwrights', Contemporary Australian drama, Rev. ed. Sydney : Currency Press, 1987
This series contains correspondence spanning Mathew's career and personal life in Australia, England, Italy and the USA. The letters include poems, prose and commentary of literary events of the time, and writers describe their work and inspiration, sometimes enclosing pieces for review. Mathew's relationship with Tony Hippisley in the 1960s and Hippisley's suicide in 1967 is documented through a long series of correspondence whilst Mathew was in Italy, condolence letters and papers relating to Hippisley's estate (see also Series 4 for other papers relating to Hippisley). Letters tracing Mathew's long friendship with Pixie O'Harris continue up to the time of her death in 1991.
Includes a letter from James Gidley enclosing a copy of his text, 'The city of honourable parts' and poems of Pixie O'Harris.
Includes poems and a photograph of Pixie O'Harris.
Includes prose poems of Koch, 'The boy in the island'.
Largely letters from Nancy Keesing and Roland Robinson, together with some from Eric Schlunke and Pixie O'Harris and a copy of Christopher Koch's 'The boy in the island'.
Includes letters from Miles Franklin, Russell Cope, William H. Peters, Pixie O'Harris (enclosing poems and stories), Christopher Koch and Vivian Smith.
Includes letters from Vivian Smith, William H. Peters and from Peters' mother, Nancy Keesing, Rosemary Dobson, Roland Robinson, Christopher Koch, Pixie O'Harris (enclosing poems, sketches and stories by 'Morgan Field') and Alison Norbury (aka folksinger Kathleen McCormack?).
Includes letters from Christopher Koch, Vivian Smith, Nancy Keesing and Eunice Hanger and a single letter each from Hal Porter and Patrick White.
Includes letters from Mena Abdullah, Robin Pratt, Geoffrey Dutton, Pixie O'Harris, William H. Peters and Alec Bolton and single letters from Mary Gilmore, Miles Franklin, Rosemary Dobson and performing artist, Thea Rowe.
Includes letters from Nancy Cato and single letters from Nancy Keesing, Rosemary Dobson and Don Maynard.
Includes sketches by O'Harris and photographs of her paintings.
Includes letters from Mathew's sister and Lorraine Sankey, and a single letter from Mena Abdullah.
Includes two suicide letters from Tony Hippisley (1967), letters from Pixie O'Harris and Robin (Pratt) Tranter, cards from James Lee Byars, a photograph of Mathew with Don and Jacqueline Munro (1999) and single letters from Mena Abdullah, Don Maynard and Russell Cope.
Largely cards from James Lee Byars and a letter from Pixie O'Harris' daughter Halcyon, describing Pixie's funeral, 1991.
Includes many letters and cards from Mathew to Tony Hippisley.
Includes letters from Mena Abdullah, Tom Shapcott and Barbara Blackman, notes from Eva Kollsman and single letters from Patrick White and Nancy Keesing. There are also papers relating to the estate of Tony Hippisley.
Includes correspondence between Mathew and Hippisley, Hippisley's will, letters of condolence (including one from Barbara and Charles Blackman), letters from Mathew's family, copies of two letters from Hal Porter to Beatrice Davis describing meetings with Mathew which were being considered for inclusion in the Oxford Book of Australian Letters, a letter from Tony Hippisley's niece, Lynda Harvey (1989) and a letter from Pixie O'Harris.
Includes letters from Pixie O'Harris and Mathew's sister Lorraine Sankey, and a single letter from Ruth Cracknell.
Includes letters from Pixie O'Harris (including a typescript account of Mathew's first visit to the Pratt's house in Vaucluse in 1954 and a photograph of Mathew), a single letter from Mena Abdullah and a copy of a letter from Mathew describing the effects of his alcoholism and his subsequent cure.
Includes letters from Pixie O'Harris, Barbara Blackman, Theo Lang, Douglas Stewart and Tom Shapcott, and single letters from Patrick White, Eva Kollsman and Nancy Keesing.
Includes letters from Ray Lawler and the Elizabethan Theatre Trust regarding a production of Mathew's 'A spring song', and single letters from Barbara Blackman and Mena Abdullah.
Includes a poem entitled 'May we live' by Don Maynard and a single letter from Russell Cope.
Includes press cuttings, poems, notes, a portrait and sketch of 'Tom' (possibly Tom Hungerford, O'Harris' grandson) by Pixie O'Harris and a copy of a letter from Richard Bonynge.
Includes single letters from Tom Shapcott, Nancy Keesing and Mena Abdullah.
This series comprises correspondence relating to the submission of work for publication and payment and general correspondence with publishers and others. Royalty statements and other business-related correspondence and records can also be found in Series 1, 3 (Folders 11-12) and 4.
Includes letters from Geoffrey Thomas, Guy Howarth, James Gidley, John Thompson, Nancy Cato, Barbara Day, L.L. Woolacott and Clem Christesen.
Writings by Mathew including drafts, typescripts and copies of published and unpublished work. There are manuscript journals which Mathew edited and/or contributed to, articles, poetry, plays, prose and novels which together document Mathew's development as a writer.
Two issues from 1948 of 'The idler's hour', a hand-written literary periodical edited by Mathew. The correspondence includes letters from Christopher Koch and Pixie O'Harris.
'Orestes' was a manuscript literary magazine edited by William H. Peters and containing contributions by Mathew.
Includes correspondence, program, poster and royalty statements relating to a production of A spring song by Canberra Repertory in 1994. Also included is an outline of Mathew's unpublished novel 'American beauty'.
Includes publishers' correspondence.
'The son of Hamlet' ( a TV series written with Alvin Rakoff), 'Sing for St. Ned' and a notebook.
'The wonderful world of America' (novel?) and 'A child to come in' (play).
Includes 'Lonely without you' (play), 'The wonderful world of Amerika' [sic] (novel?), 'The bones of my toe' (play), 'Puppet love' (play) and correspondence relating to 'The life-line'.
Typed poems with publication references, and photocopies of Mathew's published anthologies, With cypress pine, Song and dance and South of the equator.
Includes a letter from the Sydney Playwrights' Advisory Board announcing the winners of the 1955 Australian Stage Play Competition, in which Ray Lawler's Summer of the 17th doll won equal first place and Mathew's 'We find the bunyip' was highly commended.
Includes (possibly fictional) writings of recovering alcoholics and a partial letter from Maggie Blinco of Associated Actors regarding a proposed season of Mathew plays during the Australian bicentennial celebrations.
Three 'publications': 'Tread upon trenchers' (writings of William H. Peters) compiled by Mathew; 'Shaw rules for play producers'; and 'Cockatoo-crested morning: poems by Ray Mathew'.
'Whatever happened to happy endings?' by Mathew and Alvin Rakoff, and an adaptation of Mathew's A spring song.
On the title page 'The joys of possession' has been crossed out and replaced with 'The spoilt by Pine Farm'.
Personal papers, including certificates, photographs and financial records, mainly belonging to Mathew, but also a small number of Tony Hippisley's documents.
Sydney Boys' High School Intermediate Certificate, postcards and photographs of Mathew.
Includes Tony Hippisley's RAF service book, a copy of Mathew's birth certificate and Mathew's resumé, focusing on his theatre activities.
Includes royalty statements, financial records and Tony Hippisley's apprenticeship indenture certificate.
Sketchbooks, sketches, prints and an exercise book belonging to Pixie O'Harris, plus a small number of press cuttings and photographs of O'Harris and her works.
Includes one sketch of 'Ray - much too strong in the chin, March 1955' and one of 'Mena' (Abdullah?).
Includes a sketch of 'Ray sleeping' and notes, mainly about poetry.
Private notebook containing entries describing literary and theatre events and figures in Sydney, but mainly expressing O'Harris' feelings for Mathew.
This series includes hand drawn programs for plays, manuscripts (some with assessments by Mathew), playscripts, cutting books and artworks.
Includes hand drawn programs for plays, an illustrated manuscript copy of Christopher Brennan's 'The wanderer' edited by Mathew, and a typescript 'publication' of Stephen Spender poems from 'The edge of being'.
This series comprises: programs of plays and concerts; issues of periodicals; cuttings books and loose press cuttings; pamphlets; sheet music and song books; and correspondence. A poster for a production of A spring song previously in Folder 9 of this series has been relocated to Folio Box 1 and two folders containing books (previously numbered 17-18) have been moved to Series 8, Box 24. Folder numbers 17-18 have been reallocated to printed material from the 2002-2004 instalments.
Some programs are autographed by performing artists.
Includes autographed programs and hand-printed programs for plays which Mathew produced and/or in which he was a member of the cast ('The country wife' by William Wycherlie and 'Antigone').
Includes autographed programs and a program for three plays presented by the Tottenham (NSW) Dramatic Society, two of which Mathew produced ('My turn next' by Thomas J. Williams and 'Happy journey' by Thornton Wilder). He was also a member of the cast in 'Happy journey'.
Some programs are autographed by performing artists.
Some publications contain poetry or reviews by Mathew.
Includes two letters (one a copy) from Norman Lindsay (sent to Mathew by Nancy Keesing and Douglas Stewart in 1951) containing Lindsay's comments on Mathew's work.
Includes programs, photos and a poster from a Nimrod production.
Includes correspondence with publishers and theatre companies, royalty statements, photographs and programs ('Sing for St Ned', A spring song, 'We find the bunyip'). Some of this material relates to a production of A spring song by the Playbox Theatre Company in 1985 and includes letters from actress Maggie Blinco and director Rex Cramphorn. There is also a copy of a report by the Commonwealth Literary Fund on five of Mathew's plays.
Includes a letter from Mathew in Italy, 1965.
The programs are for productions of 'We find the bunyip' and A spring song.
Reviews and program for a London production of 'The life of the party'. Includes a copy of a letter from Mathew to Katharine (Brisbane?) of Currency Press about the play.
Programs for 'The bones of my big toe', 'The life of the party', 'We find the bunyip' and A spring song.
Includes an autographed program and one for 'The life of the party'.
Includes a photograph of Mathew with Eva Kollsman and programs for A spring song.
Contains Mathew's article 'The Australian tradition'.
Hemisphere contains a short story by Mena Abdullah.
This series consists of books collected by Mathew, including copies of his own published works as well as anthologies of poems, plays and fiction by (mainly) Australian authors, illustrating his interests and literary influences. Amongst the books are a substantial number relating to Alcoholics Anonymous. Some of the publications contain correspondence, programs, cuttings and/or notes, and some are signed or annotated. Two folders of books previously numbered 17-18 in Series 7 are now in Box 24 of this series.
This series comprises Mathew's diaries, 'observation books', notebooks and an address book.
Contain both writings and travel itinerary apparently of Mena Abdullah.
Photographs of Mathew from his childhood and later years as well as some apparently taken by Mathew during his time as a teacher in outback towns in New South Wales. Dates for some photographs have been added by the Library and have not been verified. Photographs occurring in other series are highlighted in folder titles or notes.
A small folder of photographs and pages from a photograph album. Includes family photographs (largely uncaptioned and/or undated) and photographs of Tottenham, Streeton and Derriwong depicting schools, schoolchildren and country scenes.
|5||Folio 5||Folio Box 1|
|6||Folio 6||Folio Box 1|