Guide to the Papers of Elizabeth Salter


MS 6481

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Elizabeth Salter
Papers of Elizabeth Salter
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 6481
3.78 metres (27 boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Elizabeth Salter, National Library of Australia, MS 6481, [box number and series and/or file number]'.


The first instalment of the papers was purchased by the Library from Elizabeth Salter in London in 1981. The Library purchased the remainder of the papers in 1983 from Miss Lorna Coates, Salter's literary executor.


It should be noted that because the two consignments of papers overlap, they have been integrated.

Biographical Note

Elizabeth Salter was born in 1918 in Angaston, South Australia. She was educated at Adelaide University and Conservatorium, Adelaide. She left Australia for England in 1952.

Salter worked as secretary to Edith Sitwell from 1957 until her death in 1964. Salter published a biography of Sitwell, entitled The last years of rebel: a memoir of Edith Sitwell, in 1967.

In 1969 Salter received a Commonwealth Literary Fellowship to write a biography of Daisy Bates. Daisy Bates: Queen of the Never Never, was published by Angus & Robertson in 1971.

Her other publications include Helpmann: the authorised biography of Robert Helpmann (1978) and The lost impressionist: a biography of John Peter Russell (1976).

Reference: Who's who of Australian women, pp.393-4.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Elizabeth Salter

Subseries 1. Correspondence, 1948-80

This series contains letters from friends and family members, including William Salter, Jean Gilbert, Marie Herford and Freda Cullen.

Letters from friends and family (File 1-6) - Box 1

Subseries 2. Business Correspondence and financial papers, 1940-80

Correspondence with Australian and Overseas publishers and literary agents. This series also includes personal documents, agreements, accounts, receipts, bank statements and copies of letters.

Correspondence and personal documents (File 7-12) - Box 1, 2

Subseries 3. Lectures and talks, 1973-80

Correspondence, mostly with various universities in England and Scotland, inviting Salter to give seminars and lectures on literature especially relating to Daisy Bates, Patrick White and Edith Sitwell

University correspondence (File 13) - Box 2

Subseries 4. Newspaper cuttings of book reviews, 1958-78

Newspaper cuttings, 1958-78 (File 14-15) - Box 2

Subseries 5. Miscellaneous

Diary (kept during a trip to England in 1947), notebooks, biographical notes on Elizabeth Salter, poems by other people, passport and photographs (File [unnumbered])
Miscellaneous material (File 16-19) - Box 3
1 folio item containing music scores and a portrait of Salter (File [unnumbered])

Series 2. Daisy Bates: Queen of the Never Never

Sydney: Angus and Roberstson, [1971].

Subseries 1. Correspondence, 1966-80

Correspondence with Angus and Robertson and other publishing companies, various libraries and the ABC concerning Daisy Bates. The correspondents include Rodney Needham, Sir Grenfell Price, John Cleland and Dr John Mathew. This series also include letters received from the general public ( in response to Salter's letters, published in newspapers, requesting information on Daisy Bates), original Daisy Bates letters, official documents and a photograph album.

Correspondence and documents concerning Daisy Bates (File 1-15) - Box 3, 4, 5, 6

Subseries 2. Notebooks, handwritten drafts and typescripts

Four notebooks containing handwritten drafts, typescripts and galley proofs for the biography (File 16-33) - Box 6, 7, 8

Subseries 3. Newspaper cutting and printed material, 1967-77

Newspaper cuttings and printed material, 1967-77 (File 34-36) - Box 8

Subseries 4. Photocopies of research material

Photocopies, mostly of original Daisy Bates material held at National Library (MS 365) (File 37-55) - Box 9, 10, 11

Series 3. The last year of a rebel: a memoir of Edith Sitwell

London: Bodley Head, 1967

Subseries 1. Correspondence, 1963-79

This series contains correspondence with friends and publishers, agreements, accounts and receipts. Some of the correspondents are Roy A. Roberts, Mark Hamilton, Alan Brooke, and Christian Roberson.

Correspondence with friends and publishers (File 1-5) - Box 12

Subseries 2. Handwritten drafts and typescripts

Notebooks, drafts and typescripts of miscellaneous chapters and complete original draft (File 6-23) - Box 12, 13, 14, 15

Subseries 3. Miscellaneous, 1922-35

Newspaper cuttings, one scrapbook, typescripts of articles and poems by Edith Sitwell, photographs and miscellaneous notes (File 24-31) - Box 15, 16

Series 4. Helpmann: the authorised biography of Robert Helpmann

Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1978

Subseries 1. Correspondence, 1971-79

This series includes original letters and copies of letters of Sir Robert Helpmann and Katharine Hepburn (who wrote the foreword of the biography).

Correspondence of Sir Robert Helpmann and Katharine Hepburn (File 1) - Box 17

Subseries 2. Handwritten drafts and typescripts

Handwritten drafts and typescripts (File 2-7) - Box 17

Series 5. The lost impressionist: a biography of John Peter Russell

London: Angus and Robertson, 1978

Subseries 1. Correspondence, 1972-76

Correspondence with publishers, art galleries in Australia and overseas concerning the biography. This series also include copies of correspondence between A. Rodin and John Peter Russell, copies of family letters and letters from friends containing information on Russell.

Correspondence concerning The lost impressionist. (File 1-3) - Box 18

Subseries 2. Notes, typescripts and other material

This series contains notes and research material (4 files). Complete typescripts, proofs and photographs (12 files). Newspaper clippings, book reviews and printed material (1 file).

Notes, typescripts and other material (File 4-20) - Box 18, 19, 20

Series 6. 'The pairing process'

Notes and typescripts written in collaboration with Gillian Younger, psycho-sex-analyst. This manuscript was never published (File 1-2) - Box 20

Series 7. Other writings

Subseries [unnumbered]. Complete typescripts of published and unpublished writings

Death in a mist: Two complete typescripts. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1957 (File 1-3) - Box 21
Once upon a tombstone: Complete typescript. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1965 (File 4-5) - Box 21
There was a witness: Complete typescripts. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960 (File 6-7) - Box 21, 22
The voice of a peacock: Complete typescripts. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1962 (File 8) - Box 22
'Will to survive': Complete typescript. Unpublished (File 9-11) - Box 22

Subseries [unnumbered]. Other complete typescripts of short stories and plays

Tails she dies (File 12-14) - Box 23
Call me bluff (File 15-16) - Box 23
Echo of death (File 17-18) - Box 23, 24
The girl from down under (File 19-20) - Box 24
High stepping a musical play (File 21) - Box 24

Subseries [unnumbered]. Incomplete typescripts of radio and television plays, and short stories

'Highlights from abroad' (File 22-24) - Box 24
Miscellaneous typescripts of short stories, some are incomplete (File 22-47) - Box 24, 25, 26, 27

Series 8. Miscellaneous

This series contains copies of various women magazines and illustrations. Many of these publications contain short stories written by Salter.

Various women's magazines, illustrations (File 1-3) - Box 28

Loose correspondence (File [unnumbered]) - Box 29