National Library of Australia
The collection comprises correspondence, diaries, notebooks, literary drafts and notes, research material, newspaper clippings, sound recordings and photographs.
The correspondence documents O'Shaughnessy's associations with numerous theatrical and literary figures. The major correspondents include Phillip Adams, Samuel Beckett, Margaret Beveridge, Dorothy Bradley (Collopy), Sylvia Buzzard (Lock), Louis Cullen, Germaine Greer, Barry Humphries, Claude Marks, Barry Oakley, Brian O'Shaughnessy, Desmond O'Shaughnessy, Nora O'Shaughnessy, Wynn Roberts and Ian Rose. The Humphries letters form a significant part of the collection, and reveal the influence that O'Shaughnessy had on Humphries' early career.
The literary drafts represent a small proportion of O'Shaughnessy's theatrical works and writings. There is draft material for various plays, musicals, novels, memoirs, lectures and other writings, including works that have not yet been published or produced. The bulk of the draft and research material relates to Joseph Holt, a United Irish military leader involved in the 1798 rebellion in County Wicklow (Ireland).
The collection includes little original material relating to O'Shaughnessy's 1967 libel suit against Mirror Newspapers, although O'Shaughnessy gives an account of the matter in his unpublished memoirs, 'How I beat Rupert Murdoch, and how I brought down the Whitlam Government, with some other yarns'.
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn2788067).
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Peter O'Shaugnessy, National Library of Australia, [class/series/file number]'.
Drafts of The restless years (1968) were donated to the National Library in 1969. Extracts from a transcript of a 1986 interview with O'Shaughnessy were added to the collection in 1986. The bulk of the collection was purchased from O'Shaughnessy in five instalments between November 2000 and May 2001, with a further donation of material in June 2001.
The papers were received from O'Shaughnessy in relatively good order. Wherever possible, the Library has tried to retain this arrangement.
The Ian Rose Papers (MS 2767) include letters of O'Shaughnessy and a draft mock-up by David Boyd for the cover of A rum story (1988). There are also programs and other ephemera relating to O'Shaughnessy in the Library's Australian Performing Arts (PROMPT) Collection. A recording of a 1986 interview with O'Shaughnessy by Bob Brissenden is held in the Library's Oral History Collection (ORAL TRC 1979).
Further recordings of performances and readings by O'Shaughnessy are held by ScreenSound Australia (Canberra), and costume and set designs for various productions by O'Shaughnessy are held by the Museum for Performing Arts (Melbourne).
As an actor, director and producer for the stage, Peter O'Shaughnessy presented the work of playwrights ranging from Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov to modern dramatists, such as Ionesco, Pinter and Samuel Beckett. He was a pioneer in the production of the plays of Beckett, and directed the Irish premieres of Not I and Footfalls (1978), Rockaby and Theatre I (1984); the Australian premieres of Waiting for Godot (1957) and Krapp's last tape (1959); and the English and world premieres of Theatre I and Theatre II, at Cambridge (1977). As a writer, editor and lecturer, he promoted early Australian history and folklore. In January 2013 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the performing arts. Resident in Britain since the 1970s, O'Shaughnessy died at Winchester in July 2013.
The literary drafts in MS 2272 represent a small proportion of O'Shaughnessy's theatrical works and other writings, which range from classical works to Australian and Irish history and folklore. There is draft material for various plays, musicals, novels, memoirs, lectures and other writings, including works that have not yet been published or produced. The bulk of the draft material relates to Joseph Holt, a United Irish military leader involved in the 1798 rebellion in County Wicklow, Ireland (17 boxes, 3 fol. boxes).
This series features letters to and from O'Shaughnessy regarding literary and theatrical projects family matters travel arrangements and other aspects of his life and work. O'Shaughnessy's letters provide a picture of the routine of his life as a director writer and actor. They include comments on family friends colleagues and contemporary Australian public figures. There is minimal editorial correspondence apart from notes by Louis Cullen regarding a File on Joseph Holt and comments by Phillip Adams on various writings.
The major correspondents include Phillip Adams Samuel Beckett Margaret Beveridge Dorothy Bradley (Collopy) Sylvia Buzzard (Lock) Louis Cullen Germaine Greer Claude Marks Brian O'Shaughnessy Desmond O'Shaughnessy Nora O'Shaughnessy Wynn Roberts and Ian Rose.
The letters of Samuel Beckett were previously held by Reading University 1995-2001 and are annotated with their accession number of MS 4294 which has been crossed out. O'Shaughnessy directed the world premieres of Beckett's plays Theatre I and Theatre 11 at Cambridge (England) in 1976 and the letters concern further productions of works by Beckett at the Triskel Theatre in Cork.
The Library has identified and maintained two sequences of correspondence. Most of the letters were roughly arranged according to the correspondent and these have been sorted in an alphabetical sequence by the correspondent's surname. There were also several bundles of miscellaneous correspondence which have been grouped together. Correspondence with Barry Humphries is located in Series 5.
O'Shaughnessy's diaries contain often sparse and sporadic entries of notes and arrangements for performances travel appointments and other general matters. They relate to his activities both in Australia and England.
The notebooks in this series contain notes and drafts of short stories poems reminiscences and other writings by O'Shaughnessy. There are notebooks titled 'Sheela-na-gig' 'Denis O'Shaughnessy's going to Maynooth' 'Two young lovers' 'Cora dialogues' 'Blood brothers' 'Totem' 'The lady with the toy dog' 'Mac Con Glin' (2) 'Castello Oz' (2) 'The young Irelanders' (4) and 'Joseph Holt' (6). Many notebooks are untitled and relate to a variety of projects.
O'Shaughnessy's writings range from classical works to Australian and Irish history and folklore. His theatrical productions include original Files as well as adaptations of works by such writers as Samuel Beckett Geoffrey Chaucer Nikolai Gogol Eugene Ionesco William Shakespeare and August Strindberg.
This series includes draft material relating to various plays musicals novels memoirs lectures articles and other writings including works that have not yet been published or produced. Much of the material comprises single photocopied drafts with few annotations.
The bulk of the draft and research material relates to Joseph Holt a United Irish military leader involved in the 1798 rebellion in County Wicklow (Ireland). Featured among the other writings are drafts and notes for Rock 'n reel revue a 'controversial' representation of the reality of Australian life. This production had its origins in O'Shaughnessy's pioneering lunchtime theatre productions in Melbourne in the 1950s. There are also autobiographical writings that relate to various aspects of O'Shaughnessy's life and career including his family his work with Barry Humphries the 1967 libel suit involving Katharine Brisbane and Mirror Newspapers and a proposed libel suit in 1996 involving Barry Oakley and Mirror Newspapers.
Further draft material may be found in the notebooks in Series 3. Related reviews sound recordings and photographs may be found in Series 8-10.
Including a photocopy of the original Holt journal (incomplete); annotated photocopy transcript of 'Politics and rebellion: County Wicklow in the 1790s' by Luke Cullen; photocopy of 'General Joseph Holt and the rebellion of 1798 in County Wicklow' and 'Roundwood in 1798' by Ruan O'Donnell
Including 'King Lear' 'Hamlet' 'Play scenes in Hamlet' 'Macbeth' 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'An inspired doodle: a lecture on Waiting for Godot'
O'Shaughnessy and Humphries began corresponding in 1956 when O'Shaughnessy was working with the Independent Theatre and Humphries with the Phillip Street Theatre in Sydney. In 1958 they collaborated on Rock 'n reel revue a 'controversial revue reflecting some of the reality of Australian life'. Humphries' characters of Edna Everage and Sandy Stone originated from this production. O'Shaughnessy and Humphries also wrote and presented the children's musicals The bunyip and the satellite and Mumba Jumba and the bunyip.
This series features 34 original letters and postcards from Humphries to O'Shaughnessy together with writings by O'Shaughnessy regarding Humphries draft fragments of writings by Humphries photographs and other papers. The letters mostly date from Humphries' move to England 1959-1960 although there are also items from Sydney Melbourne Greece Italy New Zealand and New York. Humphries discusses such topics as the Phillip Street Theatre Sydney social life his early days in London and his work on Oliver in New York.
Including O'Shaughnessy's 'Portrait of Barry Humphries as the young Tid' typescript and 'Full of quiet harm: More please by Barry Humphries' typescript photocopy; photocopied fragments from letters of Humphries (3); manuscript typescript and typescript carbon copy notes and draft fragments of writings by Humphries including lyrics of songs for Mumba Jumba and the bunyip; photographs (8) of Humphries on stage; newspaper clippings
Including manuscript and typescript fragments of scores for 'Flamin' beaut' 'Surfer's Paradise blues' 'Sandy Stone' and 'Rock 'n reel revue' together with two printed scores Lovely hula hands and The last time I saw Paris
In 1967 O'Shaughnessy produced and performed in Othello at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Katharine Brisbane reviewed the production for The Australian newspaper and O'Shaughnessy subsequently sued Mirror Newspapers for defamation. Although the suit was initially unsuccessful a retrial was ordered by the High Court in 1970 and the matter was eventually settled out of court. This series includes several pages of summary notes concerning the case. O'Shaughnessy discusses the matter further in his unpublished memoirs 'How I beat Rupert Murdoch and how I brought down the Whitlam Government with some other yarns' a draft of which may be found in Series 4.
O'Shaughnessy considered a second libel suit against Mirror Newspapers in 1996 following an article by Barry Oakley in The Australian Magazine. O'Shaughnessy had sent a draft of his memoirs to Oakley for advice regarding potential publication. There is correspondence with Des Fennessy Brian Gallagher Stuart Littlemore and Barry Oakley regarding the matter.
The series also features correspondence statements transcript summaries and notes relating to other legal matters such as traffic offences divorce and dealings with the British Department of Social Services.
This small series includes letters envelopes biographical material receipts drawings posters and printed material. The biographical material features notes by O'Shaughnessy regarding his life and career together with extracts from a transcript of a 1979 interview with O'Shaughnessy by Bob Brissenden.
Including 'J.B. Beresford and the Melbourne Art Theatre Players' (ORAL TRC 1979) and 'Peter O'Shaughnessy and Barry Humphries: some fruitful collaborations' (ORAL TRC 1979) together with biographical notes c. 1981
Including a sketch of O'Shaughnessy by Fiona Gunn 1981 a drawing by Brin Edwards and a drawing attributed to Tess Perceval
This series features clippings of articles and reviews primarily concerning O'Shaughnessy and his works. There are also clippings relating to people or topics of interest including Barry Humphries together with clippings of articles and reviews that O'Shaughnessy wrote as a guest theatre critic for The Argus newspaper in 1955.
This series comprises photographs and negatives featuring O'Shaughnessy and others including studio portraits by Helmut Newton. There are photographs relating to various theatrical productions in Australia and overseas including A village wooing The caretaker Courtship through the ages Diary of a madman Hamlet The importance of being earnest The lady with the toy dog The lesson Miss Julie Othello Summer in the country Swansong and Waiting for Godot. Many of the items are annotated with such information as photographer subject(s) performance and date.
This series features sound recordings of several notable performances and readings by O'Shaughnessy. Included among these is an album of readings released with The restless years (1968) a book on the history of Australia and the development of the characteristics of the Australian people co-authored by O'Shaughnessy Graeme Inson and Russel Ward.
There are also recordings of works by or about Samuel Beckett Geoffrey Chaucer Charles Dickens Nikolai Gogol William Shakespeare Bernard Shaw William Butler Yeats and others.
Including recordings titled 'Diary of a madman' c. 1965 'Rock 'n reel revue' 1958 and 'Yeats/Beckett'
Including 'A christmas carol' 'Beckett' 'Discovering Shakespeare' 'Eliot' 'Krapp's last tape' 1985 'Anna Livia's Daughters - sons' 'Ovid's Metamorphoses' 'The pope's balls' 1978 'Bernard Shaw' 'Troilus and Criseyde' c.1978-1979 'Yarns' 1999 'Yeats' 'While I live I'll crow' and 'Will'
The Acc03.282 instalment comprises many manuscript, typed and printed scripts of plays, television productions and films, together with other manuscripts, reviews, programs, correspondence, research material on Australian and Irish history, notebooks, newspaper cuttings, posters, sketchbooks, photographs, tape recordings, cassettes and films (20 cartons, 1 A3 carton).
The Acc09.038 instalment includes typescripts of O'Shaughnessy's autobiography, and manuscripts of other works including Irish fables, Totem AA, Sheela-na-gig, Diary of a madman, Troilus and Cressida (abridged from Nevill Coghill's translation of Chaucer's work), and Con and the Lannan Shee (1 box).
The Acc11.099 instalment comprises a revised undated version of the play The dance of death, originally written by August Strindberg, translated and adapted by O'Shaughnessy in 1978 (1 folder).
The Acc11.150 instalment comprises primarily script drafts, film treatments, research notes, poetry, correspondence, news article clippings and programs pertaining to the life and work of Peter O'Shaughnessy (12 boxes).