Guide to the Papers of Anthony Lawrence

MS 9192, MS Acc06.030

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Anthony Lawrence
Papers of Anthony Lawrence
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9192, MS Acc06.030
3.86 metres (16 boxes, 2 folio boxes, 2 cartons)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The papers cover Lawrence's writing career from the publication of his first book of poems in 1989 to his seventh book, a novel, published in 2000. The bulk of the collection comprises drafts of Lawrence's poetry. The drafts provide an insight into his creative processes, documenting the various stages the poems go through as they are written and rewritten. There also working notes and drafts of Lawrence's play The boneyard, and his first novel In the half light.

Eight large scrapbooks covering the period 1979 to 2000 document Lawrence's career. They contain correspondence, newspaper articles relating to Lawrence, reviews of his work, cuttings of his poems appearing in publications, publicity material, photographs, invitations, programs and flyers. As well as personal letters, there are notes from editors and publishers, including Judith Rodriguez, Heather Cam, Barry Oakley, Ron Simpson, Paul Hetherington, Philip Mead, Paul Kavanagh, Michael Dargaville and David Reiter. Also included are readers' reports on manuscripts of Lawrence's published books by Les Murray, Heather Cam and Judith Rodriguez and applications to and letters from the Literature Board of the Australia Council.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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


The papers were purchased by the Library from Anthony Lawrence in several instalments: February 1991, December 1993 and May 1996 (boxes 1-11 plus folio items) and July 2001 (boxes 12-16 plus folio items)


Lawrence has organised all of his papers into titled files and the order of the contents of the files has been retained by the Library. Files relating to a particular work have been grouped together within each instalment, and this is reflected in the guide to the papers. Because the papers have been accumulated in instalments, all the material relating to one particular work may not necessarily be located together in the collection.

Biographical Note

Anthony Lawrence was born in Tamworth, NSW, in 1957. He has worked as a landscape gardener, fisherman, jackeroo, truck driver and teacher at both primary and secondary school. He has published six books of poetry and one novel. Lawrence has won a number of awards for his poetry including the inaugural Judith Wright Calanthe Award (Queensland Premier's Poetry Prize), the Harri Jones Memorial Award, the Gwen Harwood Memorial Prize, the Newcastle Poetry Prize, the New South Wales Premier's Awards - Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize. He has also been the recipient of several Literature Board Grants, including a six-month residency at the B.R. Whiting Library, Rome, in 1993.

Poetry: Dreaming in stone, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1989; Three days out of tidal town, Sydney, Hale &Iremonger, c1992; The darkwood aquarium, Melbourne, Penguin Books, 1993; Colds wires of rain, Melbourne, Penguin Books, 1995; The viewfinder, Brisbane, University of Queensland Press, 1996; Skinned by light: new and selected poems, Brisbane, University of Queensland Press, 1998.

Novels: In the half light, Sydney, Picador, 2000

Plays: The boneyard, co-authored with Mark O'Flynn and premiered at La Mamma Theatre, Melbourne in August 1999.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 9192. Original consignment

Contained in 16 boxes, 2 folio boxes.

File [unnumbered]. Dreaming in stone (working title 'Open season'): manuscript and typescript drafts of poems; four bound edited typescript drafts - Box 1

File [unnumbered]. Typescript and manuscript drafts of 'Blood oath', which was initially conceived as a film script but later reworked as a narrative poem; the poem was runner-up in the 1988 Grace Perry Memorial Award - Box 1

File [unnumbered]. Three notebooks of ideas and drafts, including works for Dreaming in stone and 'Blood oath' - Box 1

File [unnumbered]. Three days out of tidal town: loose pages of drafts of poems (7 files) - Box 2

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of the poems Pelican point, Cape Cuvier and Blowholes road - Box 2

File [unnumbered]. The darkwood aquarium: typescript with editor's annotations and corrected galley proofs; manuscript and typescript drafts of the following poems - Box 3

Climbing; The sound; The dictionary; Storm damage; The sleeping car; The prism; A part of it; Ichthyomancy; The guardian angel; Four people; The faithful; The deadline; The Capricorn; The aerialist

File [unnumbered]. The darkwood aquarium: manuscript and typescript drafts of the following poems - Box 4

Alexandria, New South Wales; The cold front; Whaling; The viewfinder; Two love poems; Twin; Trolling; The terminal; Steep point; Sooty oystercatchers; Mountview; A mouth-harp at dusk (2 files); The sea-colour of their hunting eyes; Soundings; Mark and Lars; Like saliva out of the mouth of Zeus; Letter to Richard Hugo; A most troublesome possession; The mercenary heart; A limited secrecy; At the sea's white edge; Michael; The range

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of poems for 'The deadline', (working title) - Box 5

File [unnumbered]. Bound, edited typescript of poems for 'A certain kind of flaming', which later became 'The deadline'. The cover artwork and the design for the contents page were hand-painted by Lawrence, 1989 - Box 5

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of poems for 'Kicking towards Capricorn', a pamphlet privately printed by Gascoyne Printers with photographs by Ross McVea - Box 5

File [unnumbered]. Cold wires of rain (working title 'Northstar raven and the grassman'): two notebooks and a file containing drafts of poems, draft list of contents, edited proofs and drafts of the following poems - Box 6

Wilpena Pound; Prints; Home after two weeks away; Arsehole; Dog Beach; Celestial burial; John Berryman in Dublin; Four portraits; Scriptwriting conference, Yanchep; Cricket; Insomnia, 4am; Bears; Harmony; Cherokee; The name, the bird; Dead men's fingers; Chapman River; Coma; Ireland; Gathering seed; The glass poems; Directions; Involuntary actions and thought control

File [unnumbered]. Cold wires of rain: drafts of the following poems - Box 7

Katoomba, 1993; Leaving WA; A plague of collisions; Pastoral; Routine; The smart bomb; Over Gippsland; The task; Planets; Wedding reception, East Fremantle Yacht Club; Whatever passes through; What the crayfisherman said; The outstation; Muftiah's hands; Ford Madox Ford and the dogs; The glance returned; The northstar raven and the grassman; Cold wires of rain; Groundswell; In a Limerick field; Greenough Hamlet; The Appian Way; Hibiscus; Uncertain music; The barn, the moon; The blood you carry; The shave; Ratshit and ash; Bulbs; The circus accident; Living alone; The syllables in your name; Trawlers at anchor

File [unnumbered]. The Viewfinder: a file of edited typescripts, early versions of 'Alchemy'(the first section of the book), a file of miscellaneous drafts and manuscript and typescript drafts of the following poems - Box 8

Aubade with dying river; The downhill; The chess heads; The dark ship; Bird Park; Scars; The fire-danger bird; Globe; The beauty forge; Insects; Oberon; Remedies; The Protestant cemetery, Rome; Whatever passes through; Skibbereen; In a bar overlooking the harbour; Allihies/Innishmoor

File [unnumbered]. Skinned by light: new selected poems: one file of miscellaneous drafts and working notes together with drafts of the following poems - Box 9

Elegy (for Philip Hodgins); Baiting bush rats; Brisbane waters (includes pen and ink artwork); When I used to burn; Lucca; Castel Sant'Angelo; Watching Dennis Potter drink; Charismatic megafauna; Toast; The great divide Ghazals; The line; Corrective Services; Tinnitus; Custodial bestiary; The rivermouth; The stages of decay; Following the skyward gaze of my dog, I found this poem; Insomnia; Brick; Skinned by light (3 files); Laura Riding; The well; Watching gypsies work; National velvet; Testaccio; Strategies for confronting fear; Incident at Mt. Victoria

File [unnumbered]. Three files of drafts of miscellaneous works in progress - Box 10

File [unnumbered]. Bound notebook entitled 'Reviews and radio plays' containing notes and drafts of poems and prose - Box 10

File [unnumbered]. Files of drafts of the following poems - Box 10

Rap; Springwood; Postcard from Italy; Assisi; Bundaberg; Weeping in the dark; Orchestration; Ladybirds; Each day's importance; Yellowtail; To my cousin Peter; The menace of place; Rupert Brooke & the skinhead; For Loreena McKennitt; Totem; The smoke, the moon; Pilots; No matter what you swallow; Something cruel; Three horses; The hookup; Casino Rock; The shark; Trebor Llewol; At the bower; The makings of the day; Behavioural science, Innsbruck Station; Time in the mangroves; Mongrels; The walk; Silence endeth the scene

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of the following short stories - Box 11

Incoming tide; Weeping in the dark; Luna Park on acid; Paradise; A rare & luminous beetle; Banshee; New Year's Eve; Ravens over Lisbon

File [unnumbered]. Manuscript and typescript notes for fishing articles by Lawrence (1 file) - Box 11

File [unnumbered]. Reviews of Lawrence's works Three days out of tidal town, Thedarkwood aquarium, and Cold wires of rain (1 file) - Box 11

File [unnumbered]. Four notebooks containing details of submissions of work to various publications - Box 11

File [unnumbered]. Literature Board project notes (1 file) - Box 12

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of poems in progress (5 files) - Box 12

File [unnumbered]. The boneyard: draft scripts of a play Lawrence co-authored with Mark O'Flynn, which premiered at La Mamma Theatre, Melbourne in August 1999 (6 files) - Box 12

File [unnumbered]. In the half light: early manuscript notes and edited typescripts (3 files) and edited typescript of one of three draft versions of the novel - Box 13

File [unnumbered]. In the half light: edited typescripts of two of three draft versions of the novel - Box 14

File [unnumbered]. Manuscript of a prose work entitled 'Skin' (1 file) - Box 14

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of poems, many of which relate to Lawrence's proposed book 'The sleep of a learning man'. There are also poems relating to his published works New and selected works, The viewfinder and Cold wires of rain. The titles of the poems are: Aeropelican: Sydney/Newcastle; Amazed by clouds; Another kind of death; Assassinations; Blood; The boiling head; Brown snake; Capri; Carchardodon Carcharias; Cropdusting; The deep scattering layer; Dependency; A few lives; The field; Gathering pine cones; Green Cape; The Harrington breakwall; Hill End, 1962; The horse; In the country they have left; Kelp; The language of bleak averages; The line retrieved; Listening to Paul Muldoon; Love poem (continued box 16) - Box 15

File [unnumbered]. Drafts of poems, many of which relate to Lawrence's proposed book 'The sleep of a learning man'. There are also poems relating to his published works New and selected works, The viewfinder and Cold wires of rain. The titles of the poems are: - Box 16

File [unnumbered]. Maria Callas; The missing; Mushrooms; Orchestration; Owls; Oyster farmers and fishermen, Dunalley; Olympic briefs; Pastoral; Pomegranates; The rain; Red bellied black snake; A riding boot on the Pacific Highway; The searoad (2 files); A short letter to my son; Stinkweed; Tarot reading, Salamanca Arts Centre; Mr Ted Hughes; Terry Gilliam's idea of heaven; Three poems; Two lives; Two roads; View from a cane chair over Coles Bay; The waggafish letters; Where the crane lies down; The wind; Wind sheer; Wybung Head - Box 16

File [unnumbered]. Eight large scrapbooks containing correspondence, newspaper articles relating to Lawrence, reviews of his work, cuttings of his poems appearing in publications, publicity material, photographs, invitations, programs and flyers, 1979-2000 - Folio-Box 1, 2

Class MS Acc06.030. Consignment added 2006

Comprises handwritten drafts of poems from, The sleep of a learning man (2003) and The welfare of my enemy; drafts on novels, including In the half light (2000) and The night horse; draft of screen play, Blood oath; reviews and literary awards and three scrapbooks of newspapers cuttings, reviews, correspondence, photographs and awards.

Contained in 2 cartons.