Guide to the Papers of Jack Beasley

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MS 9266, MS Acc04.179

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Creator
Beasley, Jack, 1921-
Title
Papers of Jack Beasley
Date Range
1947-1999
Collection Number
MS 9266, MS Acc04.179
Extent
4.36 metres (30 boxes + 1 carton + 2 folio boxes + 11 sound/av carriers)
Language of Materials
English
Repository
Special Collections (Manuscripts)

Introduction

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence, drafts of The rage for life (1964), 'My unilateral debate: Katharine Susannah Prichard and matters pertaining' (in Australian Literary Studies, vol. 11, no. 7, Oct. 1983), A gallop of fire (1993), Red letter days (1979), Widdershins (1986), Journal of an era (1988), plays, miscellaneous literary writings, including children's stories, political papers, Wedgetail Press records and cassettes.

The principal correspondents are Neil Stewart, Alan Marshall, Judah Waten, John Morrison, Ralph de Boissiere and Elsie McConnell. Other correspondents include Katharine Susannah Prichard, A.A. Phillips, Dorothy Hewett, Noel Counihan, Ric Throssell and Carole Ferrier.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for reference.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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

Provenance

The collection was purchased by the National Library from Jack Beasley in 1995.

Arrangement

Beasley had kept the papers in good order and, wherever possible, this arrangement has been preserved by the Library.

Biographical Note

Jack Beasley was born in Merewether, NSW, in 1921. He worked as an electrical fitter at the BHP steelworks in Newcastle (1936-1941) and later he worked at the Bunnerong Power Station in Sydney.

For many years Beasley was an active member of the Communist Party of Australia. He had a strong interest in the arts, including the theatre, ballet and music, and he was closely associated with the Australasian Book Society which published or re-issued 87 books. In his memoirs, Red letter days: notes from inside an era, Beasley wrote about the Society and some of his fellow-writers of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Alan Marshall, Frank Hardy and Judah Waten. Beasley edited three books which were published by the Society: Price Warung's Convict days (1960), The tracks we travel: second collection including Mary Gilmore Award stories (1961) and Red letter days (1979).

Beasley worked in retail advertising and promotion between 1963 and 1977 and in the late 1980s he had his own publishing venture, Wedgetail Press, through which he published three of his own books. One of these, his novel Widdershins, contains autobiographical elements.

Beasley's published works include the following: Socialism and the novel: a study of Australian literature [Published privately], 1957; The tracks we travel: second collection including Mary Gilmore Award stories Sydney: Australasian Book Society, 1961; The rage for life: the work of Katharine Susannah Prichard Sydney: Current Book Distributors, 1964; Red letter days: notes from inside an era Sydney: Australasian Book Society, 1979; Widdershins Earlwood, NSW: Wedgetail Press, 1986; Journal of an era: notes from the red letter days Earlwood, NSW: Wedgetail Press, 1988; A gallop of fire: Katharine Susannah Prichard: on guard for humanity: a study of creative personality Earlwood, NSW: Wedgetail Press, 1993.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 9266. Original consignment

Comprises correspondence, drafts of The rage for life (1964), 'My unilateral debate: Katharine Susannah Prichard and matters pertaining' (in Australian literary studies, v. 11, no. 7, Oct. 1983), A gallop of fire (1993), Red letter days (1979), Widdershins (1986), Journal of an era (1988), plays, miscellaneous literary writings, political papers, Wedgetail Press records and cassettes. The principal correspondents are Neil Stewart, Alan Marshall, Judah Waten, John Morrison, Ralph de Boissiere and Elsie McConnell. Other correspondents include Katharine Susannah Prichard, A.A. Phillips, Dorothy Hewett, Noel Counihan, Ric Throssell and Carole Ferrier.

Contained in 23 boxes, 2 folio boxes.

Series 1. General correspondence, 1959-1996

Correspondence with other writers concerning their writing, work, reading and personal news, as well as Australian and world politics. The correspondents include Alan Marshall, Ralph de Boissiere, Judah Waten, Neil Stewart, John Morrison, Elsie McConnell, Katharine Susannah Prichard, A.A. Phillips, Dorothy Hewett, Noel Counihan, Ric Throssell, Harry Heseltine, Eric Fry, David Carter, Carole Ferrier, Stephen Holt and John Hetherington.

Letters , 1959-1993 (File 1)

Letters of Katharine Susannah Prichard (1959-1964), Ric Throssell (1972), Adrian Cunningham (1993) and one black and white photograph of Prichard (n.d.).

1959 (File 2)
1960-1965 (File 3)
1974-1979 (File 4_5)
1980-1989 (File 6_9)
1990-1996 (File 10_11)
Miscellaneous items, undated (File 12)
Letters of Gordon Neil Stewart, 1995-1998 (File 13)

Series 2. The rage for life: the work of Katharine Susannah Prichard, 1961-1978

The rage for life was Beasley's first book on Katharine Susannah Prichard. It was published by Current Book Distributors in 1964. The series include handwritten drafts, typescript, notes, reviews and some correspondence.

Handwritten drafts (File 1)
Typescripts with corrections (File 2_3)
Notes and reviews, 1961-1965 (File 4)
Correspondence, 1977-1978 (File 5)

Series 3. 'My unilateral debate: Katharine Susannah Prichard and matters pertaining', 1964-1983

Beasley's article on Prichard was published in Australian Literary Studies (vol. 11, no. 7, Oct. 1983). The series includes handwritten drafts, research material, notes, cuttings and correspondence.

Handwritten drafts (File 1)
Notes and research material (File 2)
Photocopies and cuttings, 1964-1983 (File 3)
Corrected typescript, 1982 (File 4)
A copy of the article (File 5)
Correspondence, including drafts of Beasley's letter to editor of the Southern Review, 1979-1983 (File 6)

Series 4. A gallop of fire: Katharine Susannah Prichard: on guard for humanity: a study of creative personality, 1960-1993

The book was published by the Wedgetail Press in 1993. The series include drafts, notes, cuttings, reviews, correspondence and copies of some of Prichard's books. The rage for life, Working bullocks, Coonardoo and The black opal contain annotations for use in writing A gallop of fire.

Early handwritten drafts (File 1)
Handwritten drafts, 1991 (File 2)
Corrected typescripts, 1992 (File 3_6)
Index (File 7)
Beasley's notes on James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Stendhal and K.S. Prichard (File 8)
Notes and cuttings, 1969-1993 (File 9_10)
Reviews, 1993 (File 11)
Correspondence with Carole Ferrier, 1987 (File 12)
Correspondence, 1987-1993 (File 13)
Correspondence with Ric Throssell, 1993 (File 14)
Correspondence with publisher, readers' reports and reviews, 1992-1993 (File 15)
Copy of The rage for life by Jack Beasley (File 16)
Copy of Working bullocks by K.S. Prichard (File 17)
Copy of Coonardoo by K.S. Prichard (File 18)
Copy of The black opal by K.S. Prichard (File 19)

Series 5. Red letter days: notes from inside an era, 1959-1993

In the 1950s Beasley became involved in the Australasian Book Society, an organisation which published or re-issued 87 books. In Red letter days, published by the Australasian Book Society in 1979, Beasley wrote about the history of the Society and the lives of some of the radical writers of the 1950s and 1960s. The series, which includes drafts, notes, cuttings and some correspondence, has been arranged according to the chapters of the book.

Subseries 5_1. Alan Marshall
Handwritten drafts and corrected typescripts (File 1_2)
Typescripts (including those not used in the book) (File 3)
One black and white photograph (File 4)
Research notes, cuttings and other papers, 1971-1981 (File 5_8)
Subseries 5_2. Frank Hardy
Drafts, notes and cuttings, 1969-1980 (File 9_11)
Drafts, notes and cuttings, 1982-1994 (File 12_13)
Miscellaneous papers (File 14)
Subseries 5_3. Judah Waten
Drafts (File 15)
Notes and one notebook (File 16)
Cuttings, 1974-1993 (File 17_18)
Subseries 5_4. The Australasian Book Society
Notes and drafts (File 19_20)
Correspondence, 1976-1983 (File 21)
Newsletters, circulars and other papers, 1967-1977 (File 22)
Cuttings, 1960-1974 (File 23)
Copies of Overland (1959-1963) and correspondence (1976), 1959-1976 (File 24)
Subseries 5_5. 'Red letter days'
Handwritten drafts of the chapter 'Red letter days' (File 25)
Cuttings and drafts (File 26)
Typescript1978 (File 27)
Printer's proofs (File 28_30)
Correspondence, 1979-1980 (File 31)
Business correspondence, including accounts, agreement with publisher and other papers, 1976-1981 (File 32)
Dust jacket (folio 1) (File 33)
Scrap file (folio 2)1979 (File 34)

Series 6. Widdershins, 1967-1993

Widdershins (Wedgetail Press, 1986) was Beasley's first published novel. It contains autobiographical elements that were re-created as fiction. The series includes drafts, cuttings, notes and some correspondence.

First rough drafts (File 1_2)
Second drafts (File 3_4)
Corrected typescript, 1986 (File 5)
Drafts of Beasley's letters to his son, Michael, copies of Michael's letters to Beasley and autobiographical notes, 1967-1973 (File 6)
A copy of a poem by Pam Beasley entitled 'Within me stirs a child', in Tribune, 27 August 1952 (File 7)
Notes and cuttings, 1971-1980 (File 8)
Business papers (correspondence and accounts), 1985-1988 (File 9)
Correspondence with Keith Russell, 1986-1993 (File 10)
Reviews and readers' reports, 1986-1991 (File 11)
Reviews, 1986-1987 (File 12_13)
Title page (bromide) (File 14)

Series 7. Journal of an era: notes from the red letter days, 1967-1992

The book was published by the Wedgetail Press in 1988. The series include drafts, notes, cuttings and some correspondence.

Drafts (File 1)
Notes, photocopy and cuttings, 1967-1989 (File 2_3)
Typescripts with corrections (File 4_5)
Correspondence, 1987-1992 (File 6)
Reviews, 1988-1989 (File 7)
Dust jackets and art work (File 8)

Series 8. Plays, 1980-1987

Drafts, notes, cuttings and correspondence relating to 'Diary of a murder' and 'Ladies delight'. The correspondents are Ray Lawler, Robyn Archer and Clem Gorman of the Australian National Playwrights Conference.

Subseries 8_1. 'Diary of a murder'
Drafts and notes (File 1_4)
Notes, drafts, cuttings and cover design, 1975-1980 (File 5)
Cuttings, 1980-1987 (File 6)
Subseries 8_2. 'Ladies delight'
Drafts (File 7_10)
Correspondence with Ray Lawler, 1981-1985 (File 11)
Correspondence with Robyn Archer and Clem Gorman concerning both plays, 1981-1984 (File 12)
Cuttings relating to both plays, 1981-1983 (File 13)

Series 9. Miscellaneous writings, 1975-1978

The series contains drafts, reviews, photographs and notes of Beasley's other writings, including stories for children and an introduction for Dorothy Hewett's play This old man comes rolling home (1976).

Socialism and the novel, published privately in 1957 (File 1)
'The lonely little letter box and other stories', 1975-1978 (File 2)
Drafts of the 'First quarter', an unpublished anthology to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Australasian Book Society (File 3_4)
Drafts for the introductory chapter for This old man comes rolling home by Dorothy Hewett (File 5)
Drafts of 'Joseph Furphy' (File 6)
Drafts of 'No man alone: the bell tolls for Ernest Hemingway' (File 7)
Miscellaneous drafts, including notes on Bertolt Brecht's Galileo, John Manifold's 'Who wrote the ballads?', and obscenity and censorship (File 8)

Series 10. Records of the Wedgetail Press, 1986-1994

Beasley owned a publishing company, the Wedgetail Press. The series contains Wedgetail Press financial records.

Orders, 1986-1994 (File 1)
Receipt books, 1986-1994 (File 2)
Papers concerning the writing, production and distribution of Widdershins, 1986-1989 (File 3)
Two stamps (File 4)

Series 11. Political papers, 1954-1994

Beasley was an active member of the Communist Party of Australia for many years. The series includes notes, cuttings and leaflets relating to his political activities.

Notes and leaflets, 1979-1984 (File 1)
Notes and cuttings (including copies of a 1943 issue of Tribune), 1983-1993 (File 2)
Notes on a talk given by Beasley on Australian literature to the Socialist Party in Sydney, December 1979 (File 3)
Notes and cuttings concerning the Australian Labor Party, 1989-1994 (File 4)
Papers concerning the Bunnerong Power Station in Sydney, where Beasley worked in the 1950s. (File 5)

Series 12. Miscellaneous papers, 1947-1994 (bulk 1975-1994)

The series includes notebooks containing records of Beasley's visit to China, representing the Communist Party of Australia, in 1957-1958, papers concerning other writers and the Public Lending Right, and correspondence concerning the Australia Council's Fellowships.

Three notebooks, used as diaries, kept during a visit to China, 1957-1958 (File 1)
Notes and cuttings on Patrick White, 1970-1992 (File 2)
Cuttings on Henry Lawson, 1947-1964 (File 3)
Copies of Henry Lawson's Four censored poems (File 4)
Correspondence with Bernard Smith concerning Smith's book Noel Counihan, 1993-1994 (File 5)
Public Lending Right, 1975-1994 (File 6)
Correspondence with Australia Council, concerning Beasley's applications for Fellowships, 1975-1980 (File 7)
Photocopies of miscellaneous journal articles, including 'Near the wharves' by Judah Waten, 'The wire fences of Jarrabin' by Dorothy Hewett, 'The native bears' by Roland Robinson and 'Transition' by Frank Dalby Davison (File 8_9)
Papers concerning a proposed publication entitled 'Profile'. (File 10)

Following the demise of the Australasian Book Society, the draft was given to Eric Fry and it was later published as Rebels and radicals (edited by Eric Fry, 1983).

Advertising and promotional samples. (File 11)

Beasley worked in the retail advertising field from 1963 to 1977.

Photocopy of Beasley's handwritten Eulogy to Gordon Neil Stewart, 1999 (File 12)
Cuttings on politics and literature (folio 1), 1959-1982 (File 13)
Theatre, opera and concert programs (folio 2), 1973-1990 (File 14)
Miscellaneous dust jackets (folio 3) (File 15)

Series 13. Cassettes, 1963-1993

11 cassettes containing various interviews, including one with Beasley by Caroline Jones, interviews with Judah Waten, Frank Hardy, Joe Waters, Ralph de Boisiere, George Seelaf and Alan Marshall and a story-reading by Katharine Susannah Prichard.

J Waters on ABS [1 of 11], 1/04/1975 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000589) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

AMPEX 60

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Judah Waten commentary; Ralph de Boissiere commentary [2 of 11], 17/04/1975 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000590) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

MITAPE C-90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

A M Blue's Accident; Alan Marshall Pt 1 [3 of 11], 3/06/1975 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000591) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

MITAPE C-90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

G Seelaf; Alan Marshall Pt 2 [4 of 11], 2/5/1975, 3/6/1975 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000592) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

AMPEX 60

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Frank Harvey on Willesee TV program; K S Pritchard reading 2 stories [5 of 11], 2/10/1975, 7/12/1975 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000593) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

Scotch C-90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Nathan Zusman; ABS - 1968 Crisis, present and future [6 of 11], 22/12/1976 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000594) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

Happy Tape C90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Books and Writing program with Jan Garrett [7 of 11], 2/04/1979 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000595) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

Scotch C-90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

ABC radio 'Books and Writers' program; 'Michael Parkinson in Australia' TV program [8 of 11], 2/4/1979, 7/4/1979 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000596) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

Happy Tape C90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

ABC radio program 'City Extra' Caroline Jones interview of Jack Beasley; ABC Law Report F Hardy and Sir John Starke [9 of 11], May/June 1979, 8/12/1992 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000597) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

Scotch C-90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Frank Hardy interviewed by Andrea Stretton on SBS TV; ABC TV production of "Point of Departure" dramatisation of life of Jean Devanny [10 of 11], 5/02/1994 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000598) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

TDK AD90

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

'How I Tell my Stories' by Alan Marshall [11 of 11], 1974 (Item NLA.MS-SAV000599) - Cassette-Box 170

Dimensions

Commercial recording

Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Class MS Acc04.179. Consignment added 2004

Comprises correspondence, cards, photographs, personal memorabilia, newspaper cuttings and literary manuscripts.

Contained in 7 boxes, 1 carton.

Container List

Series File Box
1 1-8 1
1 9-13 2
2 1-5 2
3 1-6 3
4 1 3
4 2-5 4
4 6-11 5
4 12-19 6
5 1-8 7
5 9-12 8
5 13-18 9
5 19-26 10
5 27-30 11
5 31-32 12
5 Folios 1-2 Folio Box 1
6 1-3 12
6 4-7 13
6 8-13 14
6 14 15
7 1-5 15
7 6-8 16
8 1-3 16
8 4-9 17
8 10-13 18
9 1-2 18
9 3-8 19
10 1-4 20
11 1-5 21
12 1 21
12 2-8 22
12 9-12 23
12 Folio 1 Folio Box 1
12 Folios 2-4 Folio Box 2
13 1 23

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