Guide to the Papers of Frank Dalby Davison

MS 1945

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Title
Papers of Frank Dalby Davison
Date Range
1859-1970
Collection Number
MS 1945
Extent
2 metres (13 boxes, 1 folio item)
Language of Materials
English
Repository
National Library of Australia

Introduction

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence with Davison's mother and family, and letters from literary figures including Nettie and Vance Palmer, Kylie Tennant, Henry Handel Richardson, Walter Murdoch, Patrick White, Tom Inglis Moore, Marjorie Barnard, R. D. FitzGerald, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Xavier Herbert and others. The papers also include typescript drafts of some of his novels and some published novels inscribed to Davison from the authors. There is also an ABC television interview transcript with Davison conducted by Owen Webster and the unedited working script of an interview with Davison recorded in 1969, the text of a talk on Christopher Brennan by Hilary Lofting, war service documents, and Davison family photographs.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn2571291).

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Frank Dalby Davison, National Library of Australia, MS 1945, [series and/or file number]'.

Provenance

The papers were donated to the Library by Davison in 1962. Two small additions were received in 1988 and 1994.

Arrangement

The papers were organised into four series by Library staff.

Other Davison Papers are held at MS 764 and MS 8825. Related material is held in the Owen Webster Papers at MS 4805; the Pixie O'Harris letters at MS 4805; the Kay Davison Papers at MS 5183.

Biographical Note

Frank Dalby Davison was born Frederick Douglas Davison in Hawthorn, Melbourne, on 23 June 1893. He was educated at Caulfield State School, leaving at the age of 12 to be a farm labourer. After 1909 Davison travelled in the United States, Canada and the West Indies. He served with the British Army in France during World War I and in 1915 married Agnes (Kay) Ede, by whom he had one son and one daughter. In 1919 Davison returned to Australia and took up a selection on a soldier settlement farm near Injune, Queensland. The farm failed, and in 1923 Davison moved to Sydney where he worked in real estate and as an advertising manager for his father's magazine, the Australian. During the depression, Davison began writing full time, winning the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal for his novel Man-shy in 1931. His concern at the destruction of the Australian natural environment led to his stories Blue coast caravan (1935), 'The wasteland' (1935), and Children of the dark people (1936). Davison was awarded a Commonwealth Literary Fund Fellowship in 1939-1940. Davison made political commentary through his writings "to reveal the Australian situation and to promote liberal democratic values." He saw literature as a means by which people might be helped to know themselves and their society as a necessary prelude to reform. He was active in the Fellowship of Australian Writers and formed a close working relationship with Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw. In 1938 he was appointed M.B.E. for his services to literature. In 1944, Davison's marriage was dissolved and he married Edna Marie McNab. The couple bought a farm 'Folding Hills' at Arthur's Creek (Victoria) where he wrote his last major work, The white thorntree (1968). Davison died in Melbourne on 24 May 1970. References: Who's who in Australia, 1968 The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (2nd edition), 1994 Monash biographical dictionary of 20th century Australia 1994 Australian dictionary of biography vol. 13

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence, 1859-1970 Show allonly 1

The series contains letters from Frank Dalby Davison to his mother comprising some 192 letters, 1945-1951. The letters are mainly of a domestic nature but also contain vivid descriptions of surroundings and people and of his social life in Melbourne, and later at Folding Hills, including meetings with Vance and Nettie Palmer, Flora Eldershaw, Ian Mair, Leonard Mann, Dal Stivens, Noel Counihan, Jossel Bergner and Vic O'Connor.

Other family correspondence includes letters by Edna Marie (wife of Davison) to his mother c. 1948; a letter to Davison from Doris Lister and Peter Davison ; letters to his daughter Doris and twenty-three letters to him from his mother being, in part, replies to his letters mentioned above.

The series also includes general correspondence, comprising 429 letters from 110 correspondents over the period 1925-1962, principally relating to literary matters. There are also congratulatory letters on Davison's published works and correspondence on the Sydney 150th Anniversary competition.

Personal friends, publishers and fellow Australian authors are among the correspondents who include Nettie Palmer (51 letters), Vance Palmer (41 letters), Kylie Tennant, Henry Handel Richardson, Walter Murdoch, Patrick White, Dal Stivens, Hal Porter, Tom Inglis Moore (13 letters), Ian Mudie, Miles Franklin, Xavier Herbert, Eleanor Dark, Marjorie Barnard, Gavin Casey, Hans Heysen and Elioth Gruener.

Also included is the text of a talk on Christopher Brennan by Hilary Lofting.

File 1-9. Correspondence, 1925-1959 - Box 1, 2 Show allonly 1

File 10-20. Correspondence, 1960-1970 - Box 2, 3 Show allonly 1

File 21. Undated correspondence - Box 3 Show allonly 1

File 22. Correspondence, 1859-1889 - Box 3 Show allonly 1

File 23. Letters from Marjorie Barnard - Box 3 Show allonly 1

File 24-26. Correspondence with Doris Mary - Box 13 Show allonly 1

Series 2. Writings Show allonly 1

Writings by Frank Dalby Davison including typescript drafts of books, and drafts and cuttings of stories and non-fiction articles.

File 1-5, 5a. Final drafts of The white thorntree - Box 4 Show allonly 1

File 6-17. Second draft The white thorntree - Box 5, 6 Show allonly 1

File 18-25. First draft The white thorntree - Box 6 Show allonly 1

File 26-30. Drafts of part Book 3 (The white thorntree) (see also Files 35-38) - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 31. First draft Dusty - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 32. First draft Man-shy - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 33. 'Crown lands ranger'; 'The intelligent pig'; 'Something wrong'; 'Flooring boards'; 'Something wrong', 1933; 'Road to yesterday'; Unidentified draft - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 34. Poem by Chris Cordner; One act play 'When she came back' - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 34. Non Fiction: 'Henry Lawson country'; 'This little pig stayed home: a documentary and critical study of absenteeism among workers in Australian war industries'; 'Still waters of the west', 1940 (2 xerox copies); 'Snapshots' - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 35-38. Typescript of 'Land of blue horses', 1962, intended by Davison to be the first volume of The white thorntree (added 27 May 1988) - Box 13 Show allonly 1

Series 3. Miscellaneous papers Show allonly 1

File 1. Transcript of ABC Outside Broadcast television interview with Frank Dalby Davison conducted by Owen Webster (4 copies) - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 5. Dinner to honour Frank Dalby Davison on 12th November 1968 on the publication of his novel The white thorntree (includes speeches by Davison, Professor A. G. Austin, Ian Turner and A.A. Phillips) - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 6. War service documents – xerox copies and 'Sword and Saddle' (typescript) - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 7. Stella Bowen material and other papers - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 8. Diary by an unknown author annotated "Trip to England in the Bisley team by R.M.S. Rome", May-Sept. 1898. Includes shooting scores, and references to family and articles submitted to The Age - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 9. Davison family photographs: - Box 8 Show allonly 1

Item 1. Tom Davison (married to Jane Brown) - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 2-3. Two of Jane (Brown) Davison: one as a girl of sixteen and the other as an old woman - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 4. Jane's father, Frederick Brown. (Also father to Uncle Fred from America and Anne - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 5. Ann Brown, sister to Jane - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 6. Fred Davison (son of Tom and Jane) with two of his three sisters outside their home in Bernard Lane, Bendigo - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 7. John Watterson (father of Amelia Davison – Frank's mother) - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 7a-8. Amelia Davison (Millie) shortly before her death and the other as a girl of twenty - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 9. Fred Davison at about fifty - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 10. Doris Davison (sister to Frank) - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 11. Frank Davison as a soldier in Belgium - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 12. Frank Davison with his sister Dulcie (as children) - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 13. Frank Davison aged three - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 14. Frank Davison as baby in pram with his first dog - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 15-17. Three of Frank Davison with horses - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 18. A woman riding a white horse. (profile) - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 19. Five women and a baby. (Inscribed 'Bush fillies' by Davison) - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 20. A group of men and women. The settlers - Box 8 Show allonly 1
Item 21. A section of cotton crop - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 10. Original poster for a lecture by Davison at the Pakies Club, 1937 (folio) (added 24 October 1994) - Folio [unnumbered] Show allonly 1

Series 4. Books Show allonly 1

Books collected by Davison.

File 1. Australian writers speak - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 2. Marjorie Barnard – Macquarie's world - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 3. M. Barnard Eldershaw – The life and times of Captain John Piper - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 4. M. Barnard Eldershaw – Phillip of Australia - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 5. M. Barnard Eldershaw – Essays in Australia fiction - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 6. Herbert Basedow – Knights of the boomerang - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 7. Herbert Basedow – The Australian Aboriginal - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 8. Barbara Baynton – Bush studies - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 9. C. E. W. Bean – Anzac to Amiens - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 10. C. E. W. Bean – The 'Dreadnought' of the Darling - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 11. C. E. W. Bean – On the wool track - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 12. Stella Bowen – Drawn from life - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 13. Gavin S. Casey – It's harder for girls - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 14. Peter Cowan – Drift - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 15. Dymphna Cusack – Jungfrau - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 16. Sydney de Loghe – The straits impregnable - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 17. Mary and Elizabeth Durack – All-about - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 18. Miles Franklin – All that swagger - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 19. Miles Franklin: a tribute - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 20. Robert D. FitzGerald – Moonlight acre - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 21. Brian Fitzpatrick – The Australian people, 1788-1945 - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 22. A. P. Elkin – The Australian Aborigines - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 23. Mary Gilmore – Old days, old ways - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 24. Frank Hardy – Power without glory - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 25. Xavier Herbert – Capricornia - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 26. Eve Langley – The pea-pickers - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 27. Charles Kingsford-Smith – Story of "Southern Cross" trans Pacific flight 1928 - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 28. D. H. Lawrence and M. L. Skinner – The boy in the bush - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 29. Henry Lawson – On the track : and Over the sliprails - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 30. Henry Lawson – The country I come from - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 31. Henry Lawson – Joe Wilson and his mates - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 32. J.T. Lang – The great Australian bust - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 33. Frederick T. Macartney – Australian literary essays - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 34. Frederick T. Macartney – Furnley Maurice - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 35. Hugh McCrae – Story-book only - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 36. Hugh McCrae – Colombine - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 37. Leonard Mann – Flesh in armour - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 38. Alan Marshall – These are my people - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 39. Martin Mills (Martin Boyd) – The Montforts - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 40. William Moore and T. Inglis Moore (eds) – Best Australian one-act plays - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 41. John Shaw Neilson – Collected poems - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 42. Nettie Palmer – Talking it over - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 43. Nettie Palmer – Fourteen years - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 44. Vance Palmer – The world of men - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 45. Vance Palmer – The black horse - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 46. Vance Palmer – Louis Esson and the Australian theatre - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 47. Lloyd Ross – William Lane and the Australian Labor movement - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 48. Steele Rudd – On our selection - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 49. P.R. Stephensen – The foundations of culture in Australia - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 50. Sydney Tomholt – Bleak dawn and other plays - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 51. Price Warung – Tales of the early Australian days - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 52. Henry Handel Richardson – Ultima thule - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 53. Henry Handel Richardson – The way home - Box 1 Show allonly 1