Guide to the Papers of Elizabeth Harrower

MS 8237, MS Acc06.016, MS Acc06.142

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Harrower, Elizabeth
Papers of Elizabeth Harrower
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 8237, MS Acc06.016, MS Acc06.142
4.51 metres (29 boxes + 3 folders + 1 security binder)
Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection comprises papers relating to Harrower's work as an author and her involvement in the literary field. There are manuscripts of her novels, short stories and plays and a large quantity of personal correspondence with fellow writers and artists. The correspondents include Bill Cantwell, Dorothy Green, Antigone Kefala, Cynthia Nolan, Nancy Phelan, Christina Stead, Judah Waten, Patrick White and Christine Williams.

Conditions Governing Access

Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information (

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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


The papers of Elizabeth Harrower were purchased from her by the Library in two instalments, one in 1990 and one in 1999. Further papers were received in two instalments in 2006.


The papers in MS 8237 have been arranged into series by the Library, with files created by Harrower kept intact.

The Oral History Collection of the Library holds the tape of an interview with Harrower, conducted by Hazel de Berg in 1967.

Biographical Note

Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She spent her first eleven years in Newcastle, the model for Ballowra in her novel The long prospect. Harrower lived in London in 1951-59. After returning to Sydney she worked for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as a reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald, and for a publishing firm. Harrower has written four novels, Down in the city (1957), The long prospect (1958), The catherine wheel (1960) and The watch tower (1966), and a number of short stories. In 1996 Harrower won the Patrick White Literary Award.

Biographical Reference(s)

The Oxford companion to Australian literature, pp 321-322.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 8237. Consignments received 1990 and 1999

Comprises manuscripts of Harrower's novels, short stories and plays and a large quantity of personal correspondence with fellow writers and artists. The correspondents include Bill Cantwell, Dorothy Green, Antigone Kefala, Cynthia Nolan, Nancy Phelan, Christina Stead, Judah Waten, Patrick White and Christine Williams.

Contained in 21 boxes, 3 folders, 1 security binder.

Series 1. Novels, 1969-1970

Harrower did not keep the drafts of her first two novels. This series contains typescripts with manuscript amendments, notes and printer's proofs of three of her novels, one of which, 'In certain circles', was never published.

Note: Correspondence with publishers may be found in Series 6.

File 1-7. The catherine wheel
File 8-23. The watch tower
File 24-42. 'In certain circles'

Series 2. Short stories, 1976-1977

This series contains several drafts and typescripts of short stories by Harrower. It also includes reviews by Harrower of books by Lesley Rowlands, Eric Linklater, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Harrison Salisbury, Colin McInnes, Walter Allen and others.

Note: Correspondence with publishers may be found in Series 6.

File 1. Alice
File 2. The beautiful climate and The cost of things
File 3. The retrospective grandmother
File 4. The fun of the fair; The North Sea; The cornucopia
File 5. It is Margaret
File 6. The last days
File 7-8. A few days in the country
File 9-10. Typescripts of early short stories including A Greek island, The expatriates, Absent friends, Are the chips down tonight, Pleasures of blood-banking

Series 4. Personal correspondence, 1963-1999

The strength of the collection lies in this series, comprising as it does almost entirely in-coming letters. Most of the correspondents are fellow writers and artists. The most extensive series of letters are from Nancy Phelan. There are also long runs of letters from Bill Cantwell, Dorothy Green, Antigone Kefala and Judah Waten.

File 1. Adams, Nola, 1980-82
File 2. Allen, Nessy and Jim, 1986-1990
File 3. Beaver, Brenda and Bruce, 1983-1990
File 4. Blake, Audrey and Jack, 1986-1990
File 5. Brink, John and Margaret, 1972-1990
File 6-7. Cantwell, Bill, 1969-1987
File 8. Claire, Stephanie and Zofrea Salvatore, 1983-1990
File 9. Costigan, Margaret and Michael, 1983-1988
File 10. Davidson, Jim, 1980-1982
File 11. Geering, Dorothy and Ron, 1971-1990
File 12. Golson, Clare, 1981-1983
File 13. Green, Dorothy, 1968-1990
File 14. Hiramatsu, Mikio, 1973-1982
File 15. Hughes, Robert Reid (Harrower's uncle), 1981-1989
File 16. Karig, Sara (Hungary),1978-1984
File 17. Kefala, Antigone, 1978-1990
File 18. Levis, Eve and Ken, 1964-1990
File 19. McInerney, Sally and children, 1978-1987
File 20. McInherny, Frances, 1981-1988
File 21. Madigan, Ruby and Col, 1986
File 22. Nolte, Helene and Ferdi, 1975-1986
File 23-28. Phelan, Nancy, 1968-1990
File 29. Smith, Vivian and Sybille, 1980-1990
File 30-32. Waten, Judah and Hyrell, 1963-1987
File 33. Whitlam, Gough, Margaret and Freda, 1976-1984
File 34. Williams, Margery, 1968-1975
File 45-41. Miscellaneous personal correspondence A-Z

Correspondents include Jessica Anderson, Murray Bail, Manning Clark, Rosemary Dobson, Geoffrey Dutton, David Foster, Rodney Hall, David Malouf, Edna O'Brien and Dal Stivens, 1972-84

File 42. Miscellaneous personal correspondence (christian name only)
File 43. Blake, Audrey and Jack, 1990-1994
File 44. Beaver, Brenda and Bruce, 1990-1999
File 45-46. Costigan, Michael and Margaret, 1992-1998
File 47. Green, Dorothy, 1990
File 48-49. Kefala, Antigone, 1991-1998
File 50-51. Phelan, Nancy, 1991-1999
File 52. Whitlam, Gough, 1993-1997
File 53. Christmas cards, 1989
File 54. Christmas cards, 1990
File 55. Correspondence re Bill Cantwell, 1990-1992

Series 5. General correspondence and papers, 1961-1996

This series contains correspondence relating to various literary activities with which Harrower has been involved. They include the Age Book of the Year Award for which Harrower was on the 1985 Judges' Panel, the National Book Council for which she was on the 1981 Judges' Panel, the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards for which she was a judge in 1987 and the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education where she was appointed Writer-in-residence in 1978. There is correspondence with the Commonwealth Literary Fund from which Harrower received a one-year Fellowship in 1967 and with the Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts (later the Australia Council) from which Harrower received a two-year Fellowship in 1973.

There is correspondence with a number of institutions and miscellaneous business papers, including correspondence with editors, invitations and papers about interviews. There is also a copy of a paper written by Beverley Brown of Sydney University, together with related correspondence and letters of congratulation sent to Harrower on her winning the 1996 Patrick White Literary Award.

The major correspondents include Sidney Baker, W.R. Cumming, Max Harris, Jill Hellyer, Laurie Hergenhan, Chris Hemmensley, Nancy Keesing, Leonie Kramer, Stephen Murray-Smith, Barrett Reid, Eric Rolls, Stuart Sayers, Anne Summers and Judah Waten.

File 1. Age Book of the Year Award, 1985
File 2. Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, 1978
File 3. Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1981-1989
File 4. Commonwealth Literary Fund, 1967-1970; Literature Board, Australian Council for the Arts/Australia Council, 1973-1981
File 5. National Book Council, 1981
File 6. New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, 1987
File 7. Correspondence with various public institutions, 1973-1984
File 8. Beverley Brown: paper and related correspondence, 1984
File 9-11. Miscellaneous correspondence
File 12. Letters of congratulation re Patrick White Literary Award, 1996

Series 6. Correspondence with publishers, 1956-1990

This series contains correspondence with publishers and literary agents, mainly concerning publication of Harrower's books. There is correspondence with Cassell & Co. Ltd. concerning Down in the city and The long prospect, with Cassell & Co. Ltd. and David Higham Associates concerning The catherine wheel, with A.P. Watt & Son, Richard Scott Simon, Macmillan & Co. and others concerning In certain circles, with Sun Books concerning The long prospect and with Robert Cross of St Paul's Bibliographies. Also included are contracts, royalty statements and reviews.

The correspondents include Geoffrey Dutton, Max Harris, J.D. Pringle and Brian Stonier.

File 1-2. Cassell Co. Ltd, 1956-1962
File 3. Cassell Co. Ltd. and David Higham Associates, 1959-1963
File 4. A.P. Watt Son, Richard Scott Simon, Macmillan Co. and other publishers, 1970-1972
File 5. Sun Books, 1965
File 6. Macmillan Co., 1963-1990; Robert Cross, 1984-1990

Series 7. Patrick White, 1968-1996

Harrower was a close personal friend of Patrick White. Contained in this series is correspondence, newspapers cuttings and papers relating to White and the transcript of an interview with White's companion Manoly Lascaris by Rodney Wetherell in 1996. Correspondence includes letters from White and Lascaris, condolence cards sent to Harrower on the death of White and correspondence with David Marr relating to his editing and publication of Patrick White: letters. There is a publisher's advance copy of Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda, which was sent to White with a covering letter from the University of Queensland Press.

File 1. Letters of Patrick White, 1968-1988
File 2. Letters of Manoly Lascaris, 1974-1995
File 3. Letters of Manoly Lascaris, 1980-1991; Condolence letters, 1990
File 4. Correspondence and newspaper cuttings, mostly relating to the death of White, 1982-1994
File 5. Correspondence with David Marr, 1993-1994
File 6. Transcript of Lascaris interview, 1996
File 7. Publisher's advance copy of Oscar and Lucinda, 1987

Series 8. Cynthia Nolan, 1967-1997

Harrower was a close friend of Sidney and Cynthia Nolan. She corresponded with Cynthia Nolan from 1967 until Nolan's death in 1976. This series comprises letters of Cynthia and Jinx Nolan and miscellaneous papers relating to the Nolans. There is also correspondence about and drafts of Harrower's introduction to the re-publication of Cynthia Nolan's four travel books by HarperCollins in 1994 in one volume entitled Outback and Beyond. At one stage, Cynthia Nolan suggested to Harrower that she write her biography and included in the papers is a notebook containing notes taken by Harrower during conversations with Cynthia Nolan.

Note: Files 1-3 of this series are closed.

File 1. Letters of Cynthia Nolan, 1967-1976
File 2. Letters of Jinx Nolan, 1980-1990
File 3. Cuttings, photocopies, art exhibition catalogues and notes relating to Sidney and Cynthia Nolan, 1967-1976
File 4-5. Correspondence and papers relating to Outback and Beyond, 1994-1997

Series 9. Christina Stead, 1969-1997

Harrower was a friend of Christina Stead and corresponded with her from 1969 until Stead's death in 1983. Contained in this series are letters to and from Stead and papers relating to Stead. There is also correspondence with Chris Williams, who published Christina Stead : a life of letters in 1989, and Hazel Rowley, who published Christina Stead : a biography in 1993.

File 1-3. Letters of Christina Stead,1969-1983
File 4. Letters from Harrower to Stead, 1969-1983
File 5-6. Letters of Chris Williams and papers relating to Stead, 1982-1989
File 7-8. Correspondence and papers relating to Christina Stead

Correspondents include Chris Williams, Hazel Rowley, Jonathon LaPook, Mary Lord and Barrett Reid, 1989-1997

Series 10. Miscellaneous papers, 1963-1987

This series includes a copy of a 1982 MA thesis by Nola Adams entitled 'A dark realism; the fiction of Elizabeth Harrower' and cuttings and papers, some relating to Edward Ford, sent to Harrower by Bill Cantwell.

File 1. Nola Adams thesis, 1982
File 2-3. Cuttings and papers from Bill Cantwell, 1963-1987

Class MS Acc06-016. Consignment received January 2006

Comprises manuscripts of short stories, reviews, correspondence with publishers and agents, general correspondence, newspaper cuttings, circulars and photographs. Also included are typescripts and correspondence of her cousin, Margaret Dick.

Contained in 4 boxes.

Class MS Acc06-142. Consignment received August 2006

Comprises an extensive series of letters from Shirley Hazzard to Harrower, spanning almost forty years, 1966-2005. There are also several letters written by Francis Steegmuller and a number of cuttings, mostly relating to Hazzard's life and career. Included in the instalment are letters from Hazzard's mother, Kit Hazzard, to Harrower for the period 1966-1981 and letters to Harrower from Hazzard's sister, Valerie Barnes, for the period 1976-1981. A small envelope contains miscellaneous letters and/or cards from correspondents including Dorothy Green, 1989, Ron Geering, 1990-1997, Colin and Ruby Madigan, 1989 and 2004, and Nancy Phelan, 1989.

Contained in 4 boxes.

Container List

Series File Box (MS 8237)
1 1-7 1 (MS 8237)
1 8-14 2 (MS 8237)
1 15-21 3 (MS 8237)
1 22-28 4 (MS 8237)
1 29-35 5 (MS 8237)
1 36-42 6 (MS 8237)
2 1-8 7 (MS 8237)
2 9-10 8 (MS 8237)
3 1-2 8 (MS 8237)
4 1-4 8 (MS 8237)
4 5-13 9 (MS 8237)
4 14-20 10 (MS 8237)
4 21-27 11 (MS 8237)
4 28-35 12 (MS 8237)
4 36-42 13 (MS 8237)
4 43-49 18 (MS 8237)
4 50-55 19 (MS 8237)
5 1-7 14 (MS 8237)
5 8-10 15 (MS 8237)
5 12 20 (MS 8237)
6 1-5 15 (MS 8237)
6 5-6 16 (MS 8237)
7 1-6 20 (MS 8237)
7 7 21 (MS 8237)
8 1-3 16 (MS 8237)
8 4-5 21 (MS 8237)
9 1-6 17 (MS 8237)
9 7-8 21 (MS 8237)
10 1-3 17 (MS 8237)