Guide to the Papers of Wendy Beckett

MS 9084

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Papers of Wendy Beckett
Date Range
1928-1997 (bulk 1987-1997)
Collection Number
MS 9084
1.12 metres (8 boxes + 2 folio packets)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Content

The first part of the papers comprise interviews, articles, press clippings, correspondence, drafts, financial records and other papers maintained by Beckett while researching her biography Peggy Glanville-Hicks (Angus & Robertson, 1992). There are also papers relating to a proposed documentary film on Glanville-Hicks' life. Correspondents include Yehudi Menuhin, Gore Vidal, Leonard Bernstein, and Peter Sculthorpe.

The second part of the papers comprise drafts and final copies of Beckett's work, in particular her plays, including radio plays, and also an outline for an intended novel, a libretto for 'Beckett', transcripts of interviews by Beckett with Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles, proposals for using these interviews and other related papers.


The collection is available for reference.

Copying and Publishing

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Wendy Beckett, National Library of Australia, MS 9084, [series and/or file number]'.


The Library purchased the first instalment of the papers from Wendy Beckett in 1993. Beckett donated the second instalment in 1997 under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.

Publications by Beckett, received with the second instalment, have been incorporated into the National Library's book collection.

Papers of Peggy Glanville-Hicks are held in the Manuscript Collection at MS 9083 and by the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Biographical Note

Wendy Beckett was born in East Gippsland, Victoria in 1959 and worked as a journalist with the National Times and the Melbourne Age in the years 1976-1977.

Always interested in the theatre, she had her first play performed when she was nineteen and has since written many more.

As well as writing plays, she has worked as a school teacher, a print and radio journalist and a librettist. She has received literary grants from both the South Australian government and the Australia Council.

In 1982 Beckett completed a diploma of teaching and was the writer-in-residence at Kingston, South Australia, for writers week during the Adelaide Arts festival.

Beckett's biography Peggy Glanville-Hicks was published by Angus & Robertson in 1992.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Peggy-Glanville Hicks: recorded interviews and transcript notes, 1988-1990 Show allonly 1

18 cassette tapes of interviews conducted by Beckett for the Glanville-Hicks' biography. All interviews are recorded on 90 minute tapes with the exception of 2 micro cassettes.

File 1. Interviews, 1989-1990 Show allonly 1

Including Carlos Surinach, 1989, Ralph Buckland, 1989, Oliver Daniels, 1989, Walter Trampler, 1989, Jack Murphy, 1989, Misa Criolla, Joe Jackson, John Butler, 1989, Virgil Thompson, 1989, Bernard Heiden, 1989, Coca Heiden, 1989, Roger Glanville-Hicks (two interviews), 1990, and Peggy Glanville-Hicks (two interviews).

File 2. Interviews, 1988-1989 Show allonly 1

Including Robert Graves, John Cage, 1989, Ester Rolfe, Caroline Buckland, Yehudi Menuhin, 1988-1989, and two unidentified tapes.

File 3-4. Various notes and transcripts from taped interviews Show allonly 1

Series 2. Peggy-Glanville Hicks: research material, 1928-1991 Show allonly 1

The research material includes photocopies of various articles by and about Peggy Glanville-Hicks. There are press clippings relating to Stanley Bate (Glanville-Hicks' husband) as well as numerous photographs. Included are introductory ideas for the biography and chapter headings.

File 1-2. Copies of articles by and about Glanville-Hicks, 1950-1991 Show allonly 1

Includes a copy of the program for the opera Nausicaa and program notes from the opera Transposed Heads.

File 3-4. Articles relating to some of Glanville-Hicks' friends, 1928-1988 Show allonly 1

Including Carlos Surinach, John Butler and Paul Bowles. There is also a magazine entitled Come 2 featuring an article on Glanville-Hicks and a program of lunchtime concerts held at the Powerhouse Museum.

File 5. Time-line of major events in Peggy Glanville-Hicks' life from 1912 to 1988 Show allonly 1

There is also a photocopy of a 'Sonata for piano' written in 1951 by Glanville-Hicks and a copy of 'A bibliographic study on the resources by and about Peggy Glanville-Hicks' by Joel Crotty.

File 6-7. List of compositions by Peggy Glanville-Hicks and biographical information about her. Show allonly 1

There are press clippings relating to Stanley Bate, 1955-1956 collected by Durrants Press Cuttings, London and a listing of all his works. Photographs of Kardiani Tinos and her home in Athens, Glanville-Hicks' home in Paddington, Sydney as well as photographs of her with various people including Yehudi Menuhin and Wendy Beckett. There are also portrait photos of Carlos Surinach and John Cage.

File 8. Various hand written notes and information for use in the biography as well as rough sketches of chapters Show allonly 1

File 9. Information covering the years 1940 to 1950 Show allonly 1

The notes are not organised and include ideas for various chapter headings.

Series 3. Peggy-Glanville Hicks: correspondence, 1987-1990 Show allonly 1

Letters requesting interviews and information with various people including Gore Vidal, Leonard Bernstein and Yehudi Menuhin. There is also a letter of introduction from Peter Sculthorpe and notes and addresses of meetings and venues.

1 File

Series 4. Peggy-Glanville Hicks: film documentary, 1989 Show allonly 1

In 1989 a script development agreement was signed between Wendy Beckett and The Australian Film Commission to produce a documentary film on the life of Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Wendy Bennett was the script-writer and Peter McClean was hired to direct the project. Although there is a pre-sale synopsis of the documentary there is no information regarding the completion of the project.

The correspondence in includes letters to Phillip Adams (2UE), NSW Film and Television Office, ABC Documentary Division, SBS, Australian Film Commission, Channel 4 TV (UK), Central Independent Television (UK), BBC, Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation.

File 1. Correspondence requesting support for the film documentary, 1989 Show allonly 1

Also includes a photocopy of a letter from Glanville-Hicks giving permission for Wendy Beckett and Peter McClean to produce a documentary of their life and a script development agreement between the Australian Film Commission and Wendy Beckett, 1989.

File 2. Handwritten draft of the film submission; pre-sale synopsis of the documentary; 1st and 2nd draft of the documentary script. Show allonly 1

File 3. Two copies of the film synopsis as well as various notes regarding the film and its budget. Show allonly 1

Series 5. Peggy-Glanville Hicks: drafts of the biography, 1991 Show allonly 1

File 1. Initial drafts of biography in chapter sequence (Chapters 0-5) Show allonly 1

File 2. Chapters 6-11 of the initial draft Show allonly 1

File 3. First corrections of the original draft Show allonly 1

File 4. Second draft of biography Show allonly 1

File 5-6. Chapters 1-8 of the draft biography with comments made by the editor for the work, Drusilla Modjeska of Allen and Unwin publishers Show allonly 1

Includes a letter from Drusilla Modjeska to Wendy Beckett regarding editing issues, 1991

File 7. Chapters 9-11 of the draft biography with comments by Modjeska, 1991 Show allonly 1

File 8. Corrections to chapters 4-7 of the biography after Modjeska's comments Show allonly 1

Includes some written notes regarding later chapters of the work.

File 9. Final edits of chapters 1-7 with comments by Modjeska Show allonly 1

File 10. Chapters 5-10 after final edits Show allonly 1

Series 6. Peggy-Glanville Hicks: financial statements and accounts, 1989-1990 Show allonly 1

Financial statements from the ANZ bank regarding payments and expenditures made by Wendy Beckett. This material includes two ANZ cheque books, ANZ bank statements and a report on the expenditure of the budget.

1 File

Series 7. Plays, 1980-1997 Show allonly 1

This series consists mainly of manuscripts and working notes of plays written by Beckett. There are also published versions of her plays. Handwritten notes by Beckett accompany the scripts, giving, for example, comments on the progress of a script, a note about the alternative endings of 'Isadora Duncan', where a play was first performed, and a brief background to the writing of the play, The drafts and working notes for 'Charity' are in order from the latest notes to the first draft notes, giving a good example of the process of writing a play.

File 1. 'Anaïs Nin - one of her lives' Show allonly 1

Second and third drafts, hand bound draft, 1992, one of about 20 copies sold out by Glebe Books, together with copy of published work, 1992.

File 2. 'Charity' Show allonly 1

Final version, performed under Beckett's direction at Belvoir Street Theatre in 1997.

File 3-11. 'Charity' Show allonly 1

Working back from the latest notes to the first draft notes, comprising mainly 17 typescripts, some with hand written annotations.

File 12. 'D.A.T.I.S. : Down Among the Industrial Statues' Show allonly 1

Draft typescript of a play funded by the Painters and Dockers and performed at their Port Adelaide Hall about 1981.

File 13. 'The Glebe Point Road', subtitled 'This is your life' Show allonly 1

Typescript of the comedy play by Wendy Beckett and Janet Hyde.

File 14. 'Gross' Show allonly 1

First, second and third drafts, and final annotated script used in the theatre for the first theatre play written by Beckett. Also Gross, Regression, Partake, three plays (1993).

File 15-16. 'Hester' Show allonly 1

Four drafts, one including comments by Audrey Blake. Also includes handwritten notes, correspondence, budget sheet and review.

File 17. 'Isadora Duncan', 1983 Show allonly 1

Drafts of the play, which went on a national tour in the mid to late 1980s.

File 18. 'Par-Take' and 'Regression' Show allonly 1

Script of 'Par-Take', written in 1980-81. First to third drafts of 'Regression', the third draft containing stage notes, together with final script.

File 19. 'Trilogy of women: three biographical plays, Joy Hester, Anaïs Nin, Isadora Duncan' Show allonly 1

Final draft of all three plays put together for publication, 1996.

File 20. 'Voices in the dream' Show allonly 1

First and second drafts and final script, 1986. The play was never performed, although Beckett gave readings from it.

File 21. 'Yankway' Show allonly 1

Annotated directing copy and final script, a letter from the Adelaide State Theatre returning the script and tickets for the The Stables performance, 1996.

Series 8. Opera libretto: 'Beckett', c. 1990 Show allonly 1

'Beckett' was the last piece of music on which Peggy Glanville-Hicks worked. Although Wendy Beckett heard Glanville-Hicks play the music, she does not know if the work exists as Glanville-Hicks died before its completion.

Beckett worked with Glanville-Hicks to write libretto for the music.

1 File

Series 9. Other writings, 1981-1989 Show allonly 1

A miscellaneous series of Beckett's writings, mostly with a number of works in spiral bound volumes. It includes some of her earliest work. There are some related papers, such as correspondence with the ABC and publishers.

File 1. Collection of writings Show allonly 1

Includes draft scripts of 'Par-Take', 'Refugee's', 'Sweeping up after the Onions' and the first draft of the early chapters of a novel 'Sitting Still', together with notes of the novel's intended direction and feedback from a friend working in film.

File 2-3. Collection of little stories, poems, plays etc written when Beckett was in her early 20s Show allonly 1

File 4-6. Articles, drafts of a radio play, first draft of a novel written at the age of 16 or 17 and related papers, such as ABC payment advice, 1989, and rejection letters, 1981. Show allonly 1

Series 10. Transcripts of interviews for the ABC, 1989-1990 Show allonly 1

The series consists mainly of transcripts for interviews by Beckett with Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles. There are also some accompanying notes, such as the wording of an introduction for the Durrell interview and production notes and a proposal for using the interviews.

File 1. Outline of proposal for using interviews with Paul Bowles, Lawrence Durrell and Gore Vidal and the proposal for a series of literary interviews including those with Durrell and Bowles, 1989-1990 Show allonly 1

File 2-3. Transcripts of interviews for the ABC with Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles, 1989-1990 Show allonly 1

Series 11. Other papers Show allonly 1

This is a small series consisting of reviews of Beckett's early plays, mostly undated, and artwork for some of her later plays.

File 1. Reviews of early plays, a flyer for 'Writers in the Park' and artwork for later plays Show allonly 1

File Folio 2-3. Artwork for later plays Show allonly 1

Container List

Series File/Item Box
1 1-4 1
2 1-4 1
3 5-9 2
1 2
4 1 2
2-3 3
5 1-5 3
6-10 4
6 1 4
7 1 4
2-9 5
10-17 6
18-21 7
8 1 7
9 1-4 7
5-6 8
10 1-3 8
11 1 8
2 Folio
3 Folio