Guide to the Papers of Dame Nellie Melba


MS 9331

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Papers of Dame Nellie Melba
Date Range
1907 - 2000
Collection Number
MS 9331
0.18 metres (2 Folders + 3 Folio-Packets + Folders (in Security Binder))
Language of Materials
Special Collections (Manuscripts)
The National Library of Australia is extremely grateful for the generous support of the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation. This has enabled the work of preserving, digitising and publishing this collection.


Scope and Contents

MS 9331 comprises the following items: Thirty undated letters written by Nellie Melba to her friend Lady Susan Fitzclarence, ca. 1908-1917, from Australia, New Zealand, London, Paris and New York; several photos, including two large autographed photos of Melba; three menus, all dated 1917, autographed by Melba and her fellow diners, including Charlie Chaplin; programmes from several of Melba's concerts, including the Grand Melba Concert at Royal Albert Hall on 7 May 1910 and her farewell concert tour in 1926; a small number of press clippings relating to Melba; a typescript accountof a meeting with Melba, by Ailwyn Best, entitled 'How I sang with Melba'; and, 'Panoramic Sydney', a booklet of panoramic photographs of Sydney published in the early 20th century (2 folders, 1 security binder, 1 fol. box).

Biographical / Historical

Dame Nellie Melba was born in Melbourne in 1861 and took her stage name from that city. A year's study in Paris with the famous Mathilde Marchesi transformed her from a gifted beginner into a brilliant vocalist, soon to be regarded as the most accomplished and most famous soprano of her time. Her purity of voice made her the most famous diva in the operatic world, throughout which she gave many performances. Between 1904 and 1926 Melba made some 150 records. Her final performance at Covent Garden was in June 1926, with her last Australian performances in Sydney and Melbourne in 1928.

Item Descriptions

Correspondence, postcards, menus and programmes, 1907 - 1917 (File Items 1-40; 43; 46) - Security-Binder (Shared)

Programmes, 1910-1917; 1926 (File 1/41-42; 44-45; 47-49) - Box (Shared)

Miscellaneous material, 1907-1915; 1970; 2000 (File 2/51-85) - Box (Shared)

Includes family and signed studio photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, biographies and memoirs.

Panoramic Sydney, [c. 1900-1920] (Item 86) - Folio-Box (Shared)

Photographs of Australian bushland, [n.d.] (File [unnumbered]) - Folio-Box (Shared)