National Library of Australia
The papers include approximately 600 letters (in-letters and out-letters), cards and faxes about personal and business matters, notebooks, research notes, drafts of published and unpublished plays, novels and screenplays, reviews, newspaper clippings, photographs, printed material and papers relating to Seymour's travels and domestic life.
The major correspondents are his sisters, Mary, Eleanor, Winifred and Mabel, his niece Anna Petterson, his nephews David Petterson and Clem Gorman, his great-niece Nicole Petterson and partner Ron Baddeley.
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn457326).
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Alan Seymour, National Library of Australia [class number, box number and series and/or file number]'.
The papers were purchased by the Library from Alan Seymour in three consignments dated 17 May 1993, 18 July 1996 and 9 September 1996.
Seymour's consignments were received by the Library in unsorted bundles of files and packages with some bearing brief labels describing general contents. Although the Library staff have attempted to arrange some of the correspondence in rough chronological order, the basic random arrangement of papers has been preserved. While preparing his papers for delivery to the Library, Seymour added many explanatory comments and notes.
Other personal papers from Seymour are held by the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.
Alan Seymour was born on 6 June 1927 in Perth, Western Australia. He was brought up by his eldest sister May, after the death of his parents when he was nine years old. He was educated at Perth Modern School, leaving at 15 after failing to complete the Junior Certificate. After leaving school he found work as a radio announcer in a commercial radio station 6PM. During his two years there he wrote a number of short radio plays that were broadcast live.
In 1945 Seymour moved to Sydney where he worked as an advertising copy-writer with 2UE. He returned to Perth after the war where he worked as a free-lance writer for ABC Radio, choosing the music and writing the script for a series 'A little night music'. Seymour became ABC Radio's film critic, writing a quarter-hour script each week reviewing new films. He joined a commercial radio station 6KY as an announcer and copy-writer and after six months was offered an announcing post at the ABC. After the death of his sister May in November 1949, Seymour returned to Sydney where he became an educational and freelance drama writer for ABC Radio and later television. From 1953 to 1957 he was theatrical director for the Sydney Opera Group. His first play, Swamp creatures, premiered by the Canberra Repertory Society, was a finalist in the London Observer play competition in 1957.
In 1960 his play, The one day of the year, was first performed by an amateur organisation, the Adelaide Theatre Group. The play had been rejected by the Adelaide Festival's Board of Governors on the basis that it might cause offence to former armed forces personnel for its treatment of Anzac Day commemorations. In 1961 the play was performed professionally with great success in Sydney with the support of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. It was also performed in London. Seymour flew to the U.K. to attend this production.
In 1961 Seymour left Australia to live overseas where he resided for over 30 years. Initially, he lived and worked in London where he became a successful television writer, producer and editor with BBC and was also theatre critic for the London Magazine, 1963-65. From 1966 to 1971 Seymour lived in Turkey and wrote novels, stage plays and magazine articles. In 1974-81 Seymour was a script editor and occasional producer with BBC Television, after which he returned to free-lance writing. Seymour returned to live in Australia in January 1995.
Seymour has won the following awards:
Sydney Journalists' Club competition, 1960 for Donny Johnson
Royal TV Society special Creativity Award, 1979, for Eustace and Hilda
BAFTA Award, 1984, for Box of delights.
A production of The one day of the year by John Sumner and the Union Theatre Company won an Awgie Award for best TV drama production in 1962. Although Seymour is best known in Australia for The one day of the year, his reputation overseas relates not only to this early play, but also to his many screenplays, television scripts and adaptations of novels for film and television.
Swamp creatures, 1958.
The one day of the year, 1960 (published Angus and Robertson, London, 1962)
Gaiety of nations, 1965 (produced in the U.K.)
A break in the music, 1966.
Pope and the pill, 1968 (produced in London)
'The shattering', 1973. (never produced)
The wind from the plain adapted for the theatre, from the novel by Yashar Kemal.
Film, television and video scripts and adaptations for the screen
Calling Sydney Harbour (Australian Commonwealth Film Unit, Australia, 1960)
The earth reveals (Australian Commonwealth Film Unit, Australia, 1960)
North of the centre (News and Information Bureau, Australia, 1960)
Not by choice (Double Crown Productions, Australia, 1960)
The living north (Australian Commonwealth Film Unit, Australia, 1960)
41 backyards, 1962.
The Runner, 1962 (produced by ATN Channel 7 in 1960 or 1961)
Lean liberty, 1962.
It wasn't just the feathers, 1962.
Trial and torture of Sir John Rampayne, 1965.
Stockbrokers are smashing but banks are better, 1965.
Eustace and Hilda, dramatised by Seymour, from the trilogy by L.P. Hartley, 1977.
Sara Dane adapted by Seymour from the novel by Catherine Gaskin for ABC Radio in the 1950s and for television (South Australian Film Corporation) in 1981.
The fortunes of Richard Mahony dramatised for television by Seymour for the South Australian Film Commission, from the trilogy by Henry Handel Richardson (not produced).
Frost in May dramatised by Seymour, from the four autobiographical novels of Antonia White, 1981. The three other novels aired under the title Frost in May were The lost traveller, The sugar house and Beyond the glass.
Box of delights, dramatised by Seymour, from the novel by John Masefield, (BBC TV, 1984).
Care of time, (ITV, 1989).
Tudawali written by Seymour, photographed by Michael Edols, produced by Julia Overton, Paul D. Barron (SBS, Australia, 1987)
Menace unseen, 1988.
The chronicles of Narnia dramatised by Seymour, from the novels by C.S. Lewis (BBC TV in association with Wonderworks, London, 1987-88)
The house of Eliott, Series 1, vols 2-3 (BBC Worldwide, London, 198-)
'One red rose for Valentino' (feature film outline- not produced)
'Narrow corner' (feature film outline - not produced)
Radio scripts and adaptations for radio
A winter passion, 1960.
Donny Johnson, 1965.
Sara Dane by Catherine Gaskin.
The coming self-destruction of the United States of America (novel, published by Souvenir Press, London, 1969)
Anzac : meaning, memory, and myth, edited by Seymour and Richard Nile (London, Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, 1991)
The one day of the year, (Souvenir Press, London, 1967) - a novel-adaptation of his play
Contributions to various Australian publications including Sydney Morning Herald, Western Mail, Meanjin, Overland, Bulletin, Age, and Masque and to various overseas publications including Observer, London Magazine, and New Stories
Comprises over 600 pieces of correspondence pertaining to personal and business matters; notebooks; research notes; drafts of published and unpublished screenplays, novels, and plays including The one day of the year; reviews; newspaper clippings; photographs; printed material; papers relating to Alan Seymour's travels and domestic life. Major correspondents include Seymour's sisters, nieces, nephews, Ron Baddeley, Sumner Locke Elliot, Margaret Fink, Gillian Armstrong, Michael Thornbill, Katharine Brisbane, Brandon Lunney, Shiela Geddes and Laurence Collinson.
Contained in 12 boxes, 1 folio packet.
The correspondence has been arranged in rough chronological order. Correspondents include family members, friends, business contacts, writers, publishers and producers. As well as in-letters, Seymour has included copies from 1957 onwards of many out-letters, either carbon copies, or printouts from computer discs or copies of faxes. Seymour's out-letters contain lengthy analyses of his thought processes and methodology and he has added many comments about the success or otherwise of film or play proposals. In his copious explanatory notes, some of which were made when preparing the instalment for the Library, Seymour has identified and made comments about the background of many of his correspondents.
Some of the correspondence relating to individual plays or publications, such as 'Edens lost', Eustace and Hilda, 'Mateship', 'Ned Kelly', 'But Chinese Morrison walked unarmed', Wanderers and The one day of the year, is included with the relevant title in Series 2.
Comprises 21 letters to Sheila Geddes, 1957-70. Subjects of letters include performance of his new play The one day of the year, imminent departure for London, production of Seymour's plays, production of Ray Lawler's Summer of the seventeenth doll in London, films, Australian culture, life in Lebanon and Turkey, ideas for projects, comments on scripts by others, comments about people such as Joan Hammond, John Sumner, Doris Fitton and Stefan Haag.
Also contains 26 computer printouts of letters, 1987. Correspondents include family members, Terry Stapleton (first person to play Alf in The one day of the year), Keith Richards, Harold Lander, John Sumner, George Mikell and Steve Jodrell.
Family members include sisters, 'Girl' (Mary), 'Nelly Bly' (Eleanor Mary), Win or 'Fat' (Winifred), 'Mabs' (Mabel) and nephews and nieces, Anna, Nicole and David Petterson and Clem Gorman.
Correspondents include business contacts, writers, publishers, producers, Marlis Thiersch (drama teacher, UNSW), Michael Powell (producer), Brian Smedley-Aston (producer), Tony Harrison, Margaret Whitlam, Katharine Brisbane, Philip Parsons, Mesut Onen (ex-student of Ron Baddeley), Laurence Collinson. Contents include discussions of the theatre and arts scene in Australia, discussion of reviews and comments about The shattering.
Carbon copies of out-letters (5) to Brendon Lunney and others, 2 letters from 'Ben', 1 from Barbara Ramsay, carbon of poem 'To Explain a Long Silence'.
Long letters (10) from Seymour's partner, Ron Baddeley, and copy of 1 out-letter. Two letters from Irene Brewster.
Seven letters, 1970, from Seymour to Baddeley. Five letters from Seymour to Ron Baddeley, annotated 'Communications from Australia - trip home March 1973'.
Correspondents include Tony Harrison, Brian Smedley-Aston (Assay Productions Ltd.),Margaret Whitlam, Eric Thompson, Michael Powell, David Dawdy (Olympia Press), Richard Broke (BBC TV), Michael Rudman, Ron Bryden, John Lloyd, Gabriella Falk, John Rosenberg, Catherine Itzin (Theatre Quarterly), George C. White, New Statesman and The Sunday Times. Also includes a copy of application for C. Day Lewis Fellowship, a photocopy of an article (not by Seymour) in The Advertiser (1980) with a photocopy of the typed reply by Richard Wherrett (Director, Sydney Theatre Company).
Includes copy of contract with Souvenir Press for The coming self-destruction of America. Other letters relate to taxation, finances, passport, travel, accommodation and property.
About 88 items including long word processed letters and faxes by Seymour about his writing projects, research, descriptions of life in Perth, Tim Winton, letters to and from Corille Fraser about the Hole in the Wall Theatre Company's production of The one day of the year (1996) and a note about reworking A break in the music. Other correspondents are Aubrey Mellor, Katie Duncan, William Humble, David Roberts, John Sumner, Michele Field, Barbara Ramsay, Bet Empson, Anne Head, Andrew Ross, Ron Haddrick, Eric Rolls, Elizabeth Perkins, Sheila Geddes, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Viccy Harper and Peter Whitehead.
About 93 letters, mainly from family. Correspondents include Dennis Glenny, 'Nelly Bly' (sister, Eleanor Mary), 'Girl' (sister, Mary), Nicole Petterson (niece), David Petterson (nephew), Ray Lawler, Gerry Glaskin, Hilary Linstead, Clem Gorman (nephew), Don Moisen, Noel Barnard, Gordon Watson. Subjects include Shirley Hazzard, letter to National Times about problems of playwrights in Australia. There are also cards, postcards and invitations, some with quite long messages, and some with explanations by Seymour.
Drafts, typescripts of plays, novels, screenplays, published and unpublished, arranged largely in alphabetical order, with articles and notes placed last. Seymour has annotated some of the typescripts and added many explanatory notes and comments. Additional material, such as correspondence and reviews, has been placed with the relevant title.
Correspondence including a substantial letter by Michael Thornhill, 1972, on the proposed adaptation by Seymour of The one day of the year for film; letters from Tony Buckley, 1972, about filming The one day of the year and about the decision to shelve the project;letters from Laurence Fitch of Film Rights Ltd, 1976; letter from Wayne Fairhead, 1979, about the inclusion of part of the play in an anthology; letter from Viccy Harper, 1982, to Laurence Fitch about publication of the play; photocopies of press cutting of reviews.
Typescript The one day of the year. London, November 1961
Typescript The one day of the year. Revised version, December 1984.
Annotated and revised typescripts of 'The shattering', 1971-72.
Includes: 'Mobile'; 'Odd jobs'; 'An experiment with some very tough characters' (about the Snowy Mountains Scheme); 'No wonder'; 'The beard'; 'Travel : does it really broaden the mind'; 'Misalliance (Mermaid)', review by Seymour; article from 'Modern Turkish Theatre'; 'The Turks'; notes and articles about Turkey.
Includes handwritten notes/ideas for 'Hollywood Road', 'Percy', 'Fragile paradise' 'One living animal' and 'Hong Kong River'. Also includes notes on finances, lists, reminiscences, April-July 1985, addresses.
Comprises background material for proposed book including press cuttings and newspapers, 1968-72, brochures, tourist leaflets, information on history and culture and terrorist attacks. Handwritten and typescript drafts of articles and stories including 'Male among the Arabs', 'Dislocated man', 'Samimisms', 'Turkish and American radio : a comparison' 'Izmir journal, February 1968', 'Frederick ; thoughts 1968', 'This month in Izmir, December 1968' and 'Turkey: its government, educational system and customs'.
Includes information about crimes and transportation, livestock and plants on the First Fleet, Aborigines, landscape at Port Arthur, the Rum Corps, D'Arcy Wentworth, Governor King, Governor Macquarie and John Macarthur.
Comprises scripts, screenplays, correspondence, cuttings, diaries, publications, photographs, 22 videocassettes and 9 computer disks.
Contained in 14 boxes, 4 cartons.
Comprises typescript plays, radio scripts, correspondence, cuttings, photographs contained in a springback binder and two folders, dated ca. 1949-1959.
Contained in 1 box.
Comprises further papers documenting Seymour's projects.
Contained in 1 box.
Comprises personal correspondence, 1976-1996, professional correspondence, 1995-1996, cards and annotated theatre tickets
Contained in 1 box.
Comprises letters, emails, cards and notes.
Contained in 1 box.
Comprises British letters and faxes, mostly relating to writing contracts, 1996-July 2002; business letters, 1993-2002; business letters to Seymour, 2002-2003; personal letters, 1996-July 2002; and, further business and personal letters (loose), 1995-2000.
Contained in 1 box.