Guide to the Papers of Geoffrey Fairbairn
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Geoffrey Fairbairn
- Papers of Geoffrey Fairbairn
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 9326
- 1.96 metres (14 boxes, 1 folio box)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
The papers consist of general correspondence, family correspondence and papers, including correspondence of Anne Fairbairn, notecards, 32 notebooks, manuscripts and typescripts relating to Fairbairn's writings, journals, family photographs, and ephemera. There is also a large collection of newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous items including a South Vietnamese flag, a 45rpm vinyl record, and a tape recording of Fairbairn's funeral service.
The papers in the collection provide a very good selection of Fairbairn's writings, particularly those relating to Southeast Asian politics, the Vietnam War and guerrilla warfare. Also, the career of Fairbairn's father, James Valentine Fairbairn, during the time he was Federal Minister for Air (1939-40) in the Menzies Ministry is well documented in a book of newspaper clippings from 1940.
A number of items in the collection are in very poor condition, due to the effects of damp and mould. Anne Fairbairn has annotated many of the items.
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn375413).
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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Geoffrey Fairbairn, National Library of Australia, MS 9326, [box number and series and/or file number]'.
The papers were acquired in 1998 from Fairbairn's wife, Anne Fairbairn, under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.
As the papers were in considerable disarray, the Library has imposed its own arrangement on the papers.
Fairbairn's publications include: Revolutionary warfare and communist strategy: the threat to South-East Asia, Faber, 1968; Revolutionary guerrilla warfare: the countryside version, Penguin, 1974.
Geoffrey Forrester Fairbairn was a Reader in History at the Australian National University, Canberra, and a well-respected commentator on Southeast Asian politics.
Fairbairn was born in Melbourne on 6 October 1924. He was the son of James Valentine Fairbairn, who was Minister for Air in 1939-40 in the first Menzies Ministry. His father died tragically in an air disaster in Canberra in 1940. The RAAF Fairbairn Base in Canberra was named in his honour in 1941.
Fairbairn attended Geelong Grammar School, leaving early to serve with the Royal Australian Navy during World War II. After demobilisation, he went on to obtain a Degree of Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge University in 1949. He then spent some time in Australia working on the family's property in Victoria, before returning to England where he tried (unsuccessfully) to write novels. In 1961 Professor Manning Clark, who had been one of Fairbairn's teachers at Geelong Grammar School, offered him a lectureship in History at the Australian National University, which he accepted. He remained with the University until his retirement in 1979.
Fairbairn travelled extensively in Southeast Asia, and developed an abiding interest in the politics of the region. By the late 1960s, he was regarded as one of the leading conservative analysts of the Vietnam War and Southeast Asian affairs generally. Fairbairn became the country's foremost expert on the theory of guerrilla warfare, publishing two books on the subject.
Fairbairn was married twice. In 1945 he married Rosamund, daughter of the 13th Lord Clifford of Chudleigh. They had three children. They were divorced, and in 1965 he married Anne Body, neé Reid, granddaughter of Sir George Reid. Fairbairn died in London of lung cancer on 11 September 1980.
Fairbairn had an extensive network of friends, including many who shared his conservative values. This series comprises a small collection of correspondence from both friends and colleagues. Principal correspondents include John Bennetts, Gerald Caine, Axel Clark, Manning Clark, Pat Connelly, Sir James Darling, Ken Gee, John Gorton, Bill Heseltine, Brian Hill, A.G.W. (Bill) Keys, John Manifold, B.A. Santamaria, Bob Swan, Jim Taylor, and Denis Warner
Folder 3 contains correspondence from Vladimir Lezak-Borin, a prominent Czechoslovakian Communist who migrated to Australia in 1952 and became a close friend of Fairbairn.
The correspondence has been sorted by year.
This series comprises papers, mostly undated, relating to Fairbairn's writings. They include notes, draft typescript of articles, seminar papers, notecards and loose pages of poetry, prose and fiction. Also included are copies of Fairbairn's two books about guerrilla warfare, as well as bound typescript of two unpublished works of fiction.
(See also Series 3 and 4)
Typescript of miscellaneous writings. They include book reviews, the outline for a work on Vietnam, book chapters and numerous loose pages. Topics include colonialism, imperialism, and an account by Fairbairn of an experience in Borneo in World War II and a trip to Southeast Asia in 1951. Also included are draft typescripts of two pieces about Vietnam, entitled Cordon and Search and Operation Oakleigh (File 2) - Box 2
Papers relating to Fairbairn's work as an academic. They include notes, tutorial topics, exam questions, and typescript notes on Muslim India for lecture presentations. Also included is a copy of an essay by Stephen Holt entitled James Mill's history of British India: the historian as legislator, 1970 (File 3-4) - Box 2
Copies of papers from two seminars at which Fairbairn was a speaker. The first was a seminar on the 'Provincial Press' held at the University of New England in May 1968, and the second was a seminar on 'China and the future of Southeast Asia' organised by the Australian Institute of International Affairs (A.I.I.A.) in July 1968. Also included is the draft of an address to the Queensland National Party, 1979 (File 5) - Box 3
This series comprises a number of notebooks kept by Fairbairn, mostly undated. The majority contain rough notes, quotations and random jottings. Many comprise only several pages of notes, with the remainder of the notebook blank. Several of the notebooks contain writings mainly relating to Southeast Asian politics, and these have been grouped together. In the remainder of the notebooks there are writings on a variety of topics, often with several topics covered in the one notebook. These topics include world politics, art, religion, and travel notes.
Notebook containing miscellaneous notes, jottings, scraps of prose, notes for articles and an idea for a novel. They cover a wide range of topics, and many appear to be political and social observations made while Fairbairn was in the United Kingdom. Also included is a typescript of a paper entitled 'Random notes on England', 1961 (File 1) - Box 5
Fairbairn published widely in a variety of journals, newspapers and magazines. This series comprises the collection of newspaper clippings and journals he compiled of his writings. Topics mainly relate to Southeast Asian politics and the Vietnam War.
A number of the clippings have been photocopied, due to the poor condition of the original.
The contents of a scrapbook of newspaper clippings. They consist of a collection of articles written by Fairbairn on issues relating to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, China, and Vietnam, as well as book reviews (1967-68). Also included is a collection of articles by other authors on issues relating to India, Japan and Malaysia, mostly from the journal Far Eastern Economic Review, 1978-79 (File 1) - Box 6
This series mainly comprises personal correspondence between Fairbairn and members of his family, together with other related papers. The correspondence has been sorted by year.
This series contains a miscellaneous collection of material, including papers, journals and ephemera.
Writings of Vladimir Lezak-Borin, mostly undated. Included are copies of booklets: How to betray your country (about Lenin and communism), The protectorate of Czechoslovakia and This may happen to you (about the Vietnam War), with an introduction by Fairbairn. Also included are typescripts of a number of short pieces on issues relating to communism, and typescripts of two larger works, one entitled Human Manifesto. (See also Series 1) (File 1) - Box 13
Copies of six papers presented at a seminar entitled "Loss of faith' as reflected in Australian literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries', held by the Christopher Brennan Society, Wesley College, University of Sydney, 1978. The papers were presented by Vincent Buckley, Manning Clark, Dorothy Green, A.D. Hope, Patrick Morgan and Elizabeth Perkins. Also included are copies of Tribune, 1977 and Clarion, 1980 (File 7) - Box 14
A Christmas card from Harold and Zara Holt to Fairbairn's mother and stepfather (1964), a letter from Sir Robert Menzies to Fairbairn's mother (1967), a copy of the memorial service for Harold Edward Holt in Westminster Abbey, London (1968), a copy of the memorial service for Lt. Col. Frederick Spencer Chapman, London (1971), a small book The imitation of Christ given to Fairbairn in 1953 by Reg Keating, a booklet Warning to the Western world by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1976), a coloured print of a work entitled Summer Bounty by Albert Williams (1959), and two news banners, one announcing the death of Lord Casey (1976) and one with the heading 'The Bulletin January 8, 1966/Geoffrey Fairbairn's Vietnam/Memories of a Jewish Boyhood'. Also included are a roneoed copy of a typescript letter, dated 1832, from J. Woolley (Professor Joseph Woolley) to his father, describing his arrival in Sydney and his first impressions; a typescript account by P.S. Lang (1968) of 'The death of William Ruddock', an employee of Mt Elephant Station (the Fairbairn's family property) who died in 1857; and a photograph of a cricket team with the notation 'The Jolimonters at Adelaide 1877'.