Guide to the Papers of Philip Whelan


MS 2449

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Philip Whelan
Papers of Philip Whelan
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 2449
1.74 metres (4 boxes + 2 folios)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts by other writers (such as E.J. Brady and Dame Gilmore), photographs, photocopies and papers. The main correspondents are Dame Mary Gilmore and E.J. Brady.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Philip Whelan, National Library of Australia, MS 2449, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Library by Philip Whelan in 1970. Further paper were added in 1973 and 1979.


The collection has been arranged into eight series and all the correspondence has been indexed.

Other Finding Aids

All correspondence in the collection has been name-indexed; please refer to the attached Correspondence Index (Appendix I) under the Related Documentation tab.

Biographical Note

Philip Whelan was born in Warwick, Queensland in 1873 and moved to Sydney with his parents in 1879. At the age of fourteen he ran away from home and signed on board an American ship bound for Coquimbo, Chile. There followed years of travelling throughout South America, Europe, the United States, Central America and England, interrupted only by a brief return to Australia. After his second return to Australia in 1900 he was appointed Assistant Observer at the Mt Koscuisko Observatory, was promoted to Observer-in-Chief and, after two and a half years service, was transferred to the Weather Bureau in Brisbane.

With the outbreak of World War I, Philip Whelan enlisted in the A.I.F. and, after two and a half years service, was severely wounded at Villiers Brettonaux in April, 1918. During the course of his convalescence in the Military Hospital at Randwick he became acquainted with Mary Gilmore who encouraged him in his hobby of collecting autographed works by Australian authors. After being classified 'Totally and Permanently Disabled' and discharged from the army in November 1918, Whelan devoted the remainder of his life to the task of building up a comprehensive autographed collection of the works of Australian authors. Adding to his collection as the slender resources of his pension permitted, he developed an impressive collection of Australian works which he later donated to the Commonwealth National Library. In the course of this work Whelan corresponded with some of the leading literary figures of his time, many of whom acknowledged in their letters Whelan's great service to Australian literature. In October 1943, in the midst of his work, Whelan died of a heart attack.

Item Descriptions

Series I. Correspondence Relating To The Formal Donation Of Works To The Collection, 1936-1944

The series consists mainly of correspondence between Whelan, Kenneth Binns, the Commonwealth National Librarian, and W. Cousins of Angus and Robertson Ltd., and concerns the formal transmission and acceptance of annotated published works for addition to the Whelan Collection. The correspondence is arranged chronologically. Comprises Items 1-399.

Series II. Correspondence Received From Authors, 1932-1942

Letters received by Whelan from various Australian authors in reply to his request for the autographing and annotation of published works. Many of these letters, from important library figures, are personal, and express the gratitude of Australian writers for the part Whelan was playing in the preservation of Australian literature. Comprises Items 400-712.

Series III. Brief Autobiography And Lists Of Books Added To The Collection

A brief autobiography by Whelan; a newspaper article on the Whelan Collection; and lists of Australian title added to the collection. Comprises Item 713-784.

Series IV. Correspondence And Other Material Relating To Dame Mary Gilmore, 1928-1943

The series contains correspondence between Dame Mary Gilmore and Whelan on personal matters and also on the Whelan Collection. It includes a suggestion by Dame Mary that Whelan's letters to her be included in the Collection. It also includes a letter containing an account of an early meeting between Dame Mary Gilmore and Henry and Henry Kendall, as well as a letter written to Dame Mary Gilmore by Mrs Edith Whelan concerning the death of Whelan. Items 872-880 are the manuscript of the Poem Australia, amended and signed by Dame Mary Gilmore, annotated music sheets for Australian Battle Cry and autographed cards. Comprises Items 785-880.

Series V. Correspondence And Manuscripts Of E. J. Brady

Letters by E. J. Brady to Whelan, both personal and concerning the Whelan Collection. They include a copy of a letter written by Brady to John Masefield. Comprises Items 881-1183. Items 906-1175 are manuscript essays and poems by Brady. Items 1176-1183 are miscellaneous items, including a letter from J. F. Archibald, Brady's article and Brady's Miner's Right and Electors Rights, a magazine article and Brady's account of his early English ancestory. See also writings by Brady in other series.

Various items (Item 881-905)

E.J. Brady: Bass Strait (Item 906-916)

E.J. Brady: Battle axes to grind (Item 917-922)

E.J. Brady: Black sands (Item 923-940)

E.J. Brady: Blue dungarees (Item 941-944)

E.J. Brady: Bohemia and its people (Item 945-956)

E.J. Brady: Call to arms (Item 957-962)

E.J. Brady: A continent to waste (Item 963-968)

E.J. Brady: Corrigan (Item 969-979)

E.J. Brady: My feet in dreams have wandered (signed copy) (Item 980-982)

E.J. Brady: The debbel-debbel of Anderon's Creek (Item 983-995)

E.J. Brady: Dee-Why, Sydney (Item 996)

E.J. Brady: Drake and Hawkins (Item 997-1000)

E.J. Brady: Facing realities (Item 1001-1009)

E.J. Brady: Future of the west (Item 1010-1016)

E.J. Brady: Grass and water (Item 1017-1021)

E.J. Brady: Historical highlights (Item 1022-1036)

E.J. Brady: A hundred years ago (Item 1037-1039)

E.J. Brady: Jack goes home (Item 1040-1041)

E.J. Brady: Let my people go (Item 1042-1048)

E.J. Brady: Longshore lasses (Item 1049-1051)

E.J. Brady: A map and some pins (Item 1052-1059)

E.J. Brady: Untitled (Item 1060-1062)

E.J. Brady: Migration (Item 1063-1070)

E.J. Brady: My feet in dreams have wandered (Item 1071-1074)

E.J. Brady: Night watch (Item 1075-1085)

E.J. Brady: An old-time cattleman (Item 1086-1094)

E.J. Brady: A passion for discovery (Item 1095-1108)

E.J. Brady: The road unending (Item 1109-1114)

E.J. Brady: Sea chanties and chantey men (Item 1115-1128)

E.J. Brady: Traders and whalers (Item 1129-1138)

E.J. Brady: Twofold Bay (Item 1139-1145)

E.J. Brady: The Velaski incident (Item 1146-1155)

E.J. Brady: The weather prophet (Item 1156-1166)

E.J. Brady: Windjammer days (Item 1167-1175)

Miscellaneous items (Item 1176-1183)

Series VI. Correspondence And Other Material Relating To Cobb Co.

The series contains material collected by Whelan in connection with the early history of Cobb & Co. It includes an incomplete list of New South Wales drivers still alive in May 1932, (Item No 1184). Comprises Items 1184-1361. Items 1189-1307 are letters written to Whelan by old drivers in response to his request for information concerning their early coaching experiences. Items 1308-1353 are press-clippings, photographs and cards, and invitations from the Cobb & Co. Old Drivers Association. Item 1354 is the Men of Cobb & Co. by E. J. Aisbett (1940) and items 1355-1361 are the manuscript and copies of two poems by George Vinge.

Series VII. Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Literary manuscripts of 16 Australian writers. Comprises Items 1362-1436.

J. A. ALLAN: A Christmas carol from Plestine - 1941. (Item 1362)

J. A. ALLAN: Fields of Palestine (Item 1363)

J. A. ALLAN: The lost song (Item 1364)

Val ANDERSON: Infantryman in Palestine (Item 1365)

Val ANDERSON: The navy came (Item 1366)

Fred DAVISON: Duck William and his cobbers (Item 1366a_b)

Fred DAVISON: Australian Society of America: Chicago 'Rov Thuds' (Item 1366b)

G. S. DOORLY:The songs of the morning (Item 1366c)

'Kay GRANT:Sydney's home (Item 1367-1369)

Edward HARRINGTON: Casey's beer (Item 1370-1371)

Edward HARRINGTON: End of a joyous bard (Item 1372-1373)

Edward HARRINGTON: Sullivan's quest (Item 1374)

Caesar (Item 1375-1376)

The derelicts (letter attached) (Item 1380-1382)

Walter JAGO: Jim Grahame (Item 1383-1385)

E. JASON: Untitled (Item 1386)

Hugh McCRAE: Queen of Nathan's Rock (Item 1387-1417)

Alan D. MICKLE: Appartement in Brussels (Item 1417a)

Walter MURDOCH: I recall (Item 1418)

Joe N. NEILD: Through eighty years (Item 1419)

Pixie O'HARRIS: 'A R's' (Item 1420-1422)

Thomas V. TIERNEY: Photos on the wall (Item 1423)

W.J. WALTON: Old pioneers - Pittwater-Narrabeen districts (Item 1424-1433)

William J. WTE: The individual (Item 1434)

William J. WTE: Lassester's ride (Item 1435-1436)

Series VIII. Miscellaneous Items

DALEY, Charles. Poems, Melbourne, Horticulture Press Pty Ltd., 1947, (item 1438); PIDDINGTON, A. B. English and War, reprinted from the Sydney Morning Herald, 7th June, 1941. (items 1438); Desiderata, Number 6 (items 1439); INGAMELLS, Rex. News of the Sun, Adelaide, Jindyworobak Publication, 1942, (item 1440); Lines written by T. V. Tierney, (item 1441); ALEXANDER, Roy. Three published short stories, World Syndicating Service, undated. (item 1442). The series also contains biographical details of Xavier Herbert, invitation from the Bread and Cheese Club, programmes, souvenir pamphlets, Christmas cards, newspaper clippings and other material. (Item 1437-1442)

Newspaper cuttings, (1457-1459 Xavier Hereri) Photgraphs, (C J. Dennis Memorial (Auburn S. A.). Item No 1469-1479), (Item 1480-1483 Brian Vrepont Winning Poem C. J. Dennis Memorial 1939. "The Miracle') (Item 1443-1494)

"Sea Wolves', hand written poem, by E. J. Brady. Illustrated by F. Bourke Presented to Phil Whelan. Folio Run. (Item 1495)

Personalia: E. J. Brady, to his friend Phil Whelan miscellaneous items. Australian character, Labour Party, Brad's Mother death, and others. (Item 1496-1571)

Photocopies of pages from the Whelan Book Collection containing annulations from the authors. (Addition 30/4/99) (Item)