Guide to the Papers of Dorothy Hewett
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Hewett, Dorothy
- Papers of Dorothy Hewett
- Date Range
- 1883-2002 (bulk 1952-2001)
- Collection Number
- MS 6184
- 5.1 metres (34 ms boxes + 2 medium folio boxes + 1 map folio + 22 sound/av carriers)
- Language of Materials
- Special Collections (Manuscripts)
- This finding aid is published with the assistance of the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.
Scope and Contents
The papers consist of correspondence, literary works, photographs, sound and video recordings, theatre programs, posters and press cuttings, with the largest part of the collection being preparatory notes, drafts and manuscripts of Hewett's literary works. Major correspondents include Robert Adamson, Josephine Barnes, Rolf Hennequel, Elizabeth Jolley, Drusilla Modjeska, Stephen Murray-Smith, Hal Porter, Max Williams and Fay Zwicky. Other correspondents include Frank Hardy, Alan Marshall, David Martin, Katharine Susannah Prichard and Richard Wherrett.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is available for reference.
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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Dorothy Hewett, National Library of Australia, MS 6184, [series and/or file number]'.
The papers of Dorothy Hewett were received by the Library in a number of instalments between 1979 and 2005: between 1979 and 1999 four consignments of papers were purchased from Ms Hewett; in 2003, papers that Hewett had left with Bill Dunstone in 1988 were donated to the Library by Dunstone; and in 2005 a final instalment was purchased from Hewett's husband, Merv Lilley.
In the Oral History Section, interviews with Dorothy Hewett are held at ORAL TRC 1/658-659 and ORAL TRC 5217/9.
A Biography file on Dorothy Hewett is available in the Newspaper and Microform Reading Room
Correspondence of Dorothy Hewett is held in the Manuscript Collection in the papers of David Martin (MS 6885), Jack Beasley (MS 9266), Kate McNamara (MS 8512), Tom Inglis Moore (MS 8130), Rodney Hall (MS 4834), Frank Hardy (MS 4887), Katharine Susannah Prichard (MS 6201), Rolf Hennequel (MS 2923) and Robert Adamson (MS 5713), and in the Records of Theatre Australia (MS 6861) and Currency Press (MS 8084).
Hewett's published works, including anthologies of poetry and musical works written in collaboration with composers, are listed on the Library's catalogue.
Since the first consignment was received in 1979 a number of different approaches to arrangement and levels of description have been applied to the collection, differences which are reflected in the file titles and notes. No discernible order was apparent in the contents of the consignments. Order has been imposed by the Library to the extent of grouping similar material into a series arrangement whilst retaining the order of adjacent papers wherever possible. In this way Hewett's apparently random approach to filing has been maintained to some degree.
Papers received in 1979, 1984 and 1992 consignments were sequentially arranged and described using a simple box/file approach with continuous file numbers, totalling 131 files. In 2007 these three consignments were rearranged into series, and subsequent consignments of papers were incorporated into the new arrangement. Whilst the contents of files in the original listing (i.e. of the 1979, 1984 and 1992 consignments) have not been rearranged or moved, the file numbers have changed. Researchers seeking to locate this material should refer to 'Appendix 1: Locations of material moved in 2007 review of collection and guide' (see attached).
The order of material within each series adheres to the chronological order in which the consignments were received (i.e. 1979, followed by 1984 etc.). For identification of files relating to each consignment, see 'Appendix 2: Record of Instalments' (see attached).
Dorothy Coade Hewett was born on 21 May 1923 on a farm near the Western Australian wheat belt town of Wickepin, the elder daughter of Arthur Thomas (Tom) and Doris Irene (René, née Coade) Hewett. She was educated by correspondence as a child, and then at Perth College and the University of Western Australia (UWA), where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1963. Hewett began writing poetry as a child. Her first published poem was 'Dreaming', which appeared in an anthology of children's work in 1938. At nineteen her poetry was published in Meanjin and by twenty-two she had won drama and national poetry competitions.
At nineteen she joined the Communist Party, remaining a member until her resignation in 1968. In 1944 she married Lloyd Davies, with whom she had one child. The marriage failed and in 1948 Hewett moved to Sydney where she lived for nine years with another Party member, Les Flood, with whom she had three sons. The couple lived in inner city suburbs and Hewett took jobs in factories. Her book Bobbin up (1959) was based on these experiences.
In 1960 the couple parted and Hewett returned to Perth, where she completed her studies and subsequently taught English at UWA. There she also married Merv Lilley and bore him two daughters. In 1974 the family moved back to Sydney. Here Hewett was successful in applying for a number of grants from the newly formed Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts, enabling her to concentrate on her writing. Towards the end of her life she moved with Lilley to Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains.
Hewett's career as a writer spanned fiction, poetry, plays and articles for which she received numerous awards and fellowships throughout her life. Her contribution to Australian literature was recognised with an Order of Australia medal (AM) in 1986. Hewett held the position of writer-in-residence at least nine times at Australian universities and once overseas. Her publishing record is vast and includes three novels, a first volume of memoirs, Wild card (the second volume was in process at the time of her death), fifteen plays, anthologies of poetry, radio and screen plays, short stories, musicals, librettos and articles for Australian and overseas journals. In addition, Hewett and her works have been the subject of much analysis and review by other authors.
It is difficult to separate Hewett's writing from her persona. Her early bohemian lifestyle and political and social activism earned her a reputation as an unrepentant rebel. Students, political colleagues from both sides of politics, theatre people and literati alike were drawn to her outgoing personality and vast intellect. Hewett's flamboyant image and creative output never waned.
Dorothy Hewett died in Springwood, New South Wales, on 25 August 2002, survived by husband Merv Lilley and five of her children.
Austlit database entry on Dorothy Hewett, c. 2007, http://www.austlit.edu.au.
Bennett, Bruce. 'Obituary: Dorothy Hewett', The (London) Independent, 3 September 2002, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20020903/ai_n12646372
Cunningham, James and Wyndham, Susan. 'An unbridled rage to live', The Sydney Morning Herald, August 26 2002, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/08/25/1030053009320.html
Hewett, Dorothy. Wild card. Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin Books, 1990.
P.L. Duffy Resource Centre, Trinity College W.A. 'Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002): Playwright, novelist, poet', 2006 http://www.trinity.wa.edu.au/plduffyrc/subjects/english/aust/hewett.htm.
Wikipedia entry: 'Dorothy Hewett', c. 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Hewett.
This series contains Hewett's professional and personal correspondence. Hewett did not retain copies of her own letters except in very rare instances. The letters are largely from literary and theatre colleagues, publishers, Hewett's agents and academics. Whilst these mainly deal with Hewett's work and collaborations, the content of many of the letters suggests that Hewett often combined personal and professional relationships. People represented in the series by significant amounts of correspondence include Robert Adamson, Josephine Barnes, Rolf Hennequel, Elizabeth Jolley, Drusilla Modjeska, Stephen Murray-Smith, Hal Porter, Max Williams and Fay Zwicky. Other correspondents include Frank Hardy, Alan Marshall, David Martin, Katharine Susannah Prichard and Richard Wherrett.
Amongst the correspondence in this series can also be found poems by other writers, greetings and post cards, photographs, audiovisual material, notebooks, notes and typescripts written by Hewett, and financial papers. The placement of Hewett's hand- and type-written notes amongst the correspondence has been retained. Some enclosures received with letters appear to have been removed by Hewett but may possibly be found elsewhere in the collection. Correspondence found amongst Hewett's literary drafts has been left in place and is located in Series 4.
Correspondents include W.F. (Frank) Arndt, Bob Lord, Alan Marshall and Manning Clark. Also includes a letter of recommendation written by Allan Edwards for Hewett in 1942.
Correspondents include Hal Porter, Randolph Stow, Bill Hart-Smith (enclosing poems), David Martin, Katharine Susannah Prichard (enclosing a 'Tribute to Dorothy Hewett') and Frank Hardy.
Includes: agreements (contracts) and correspondence relating to the publication of Bobbin up in Russia and Eastern Europe; correspondence with Rolf Hennequel of Wattle Grove Press; and letters from Stephen Murray-Smith regarding the publication of Hewett's poems in Overland.
Includes correspondence relating to a production of This old man comes rolling home, and letters from directors Ray Omadei, Richard Wherrett and George Whaley.
Includes letters from Cecil Holmes about 'The planter of Malata'. Other correspondents include Jim Davidson (one letter), Graeme Blundell (one letter) and Professor Mainusch (one letter).
Correspondents include Gwen Harwood, Stefan Heym, Arne Neeme, Jim Davidson, Ron Blair, Frank Hardy, David Martin, Tom Hungerford and Stephen Murray-Smith. Topics include: action by Lloyd Davies on Hewett's 'Tatty Hollow story'; invitations to visit universities and to read poetry; and letters of congratulations from audience members about Hewett's plays.
Correspondents include Alvah Bessie, Gertrude and Stefan Heym, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Elizabeth Jolley, Maggie Dence, Stephen Murray-Smith, John Romeril, Patrick White, John Morrison, Frank Hardy and David Martin. Topics include Australian writing, the Communist Party, the death of Ian Turner, Realist Writers and comments on Hewett's work.
Correspondents include Katharine Brisbane, Robert Page, Stephen Murray-Smith, Sylvia Lawson, Rodney Fisher, Elizabeth Jolley, Tom Shapcott, Richard Wherrett, Wendy Blaxland, Trader Faulkner and Fay Zwicky. Additional letters are from publishers, the ABC, universities, festival committees and the Australia Council. Topics include funding of Overland 1961, attendance at festivals, poetry readings, proposed publications and productions, inquiries from students and literary criticism.
Includes: a letter from the Australian Council for the Arts Literature Board notifying Hewett of her first grant (1973); correspondence from Charles Sturt University regarding the script and a production of 'Zoo'; and a letter from May Webb with her views on characters from Redfern in Wild card.
Correspondents include: publishers, including Drusilla Modjeska of Collins Angus and Robertson regarding the publication, Sisters; theatre personnel; Vera Deacon, enclosing photographs and recalling life in innercity Sydney in the 1950s; and Moya Henderson, enclosing a draft libretto for a song cycle for soprano, cello and piano based on Wild card.
Includes: royalty statements, a photograph of Hewett, letters from Charles Sturt University about a production of 'Zoo', festival organisers, and single letters from Robert Adamson and Fay Zwicky (enclosing poems).
Includes a sound recording of a setting of a Hewett poem by the band 'Random Selection'.
Includes copies of Hewett's resume and her poem 'Drunks in Darlinghurst'.
Includes notes, a notebook, Hewett's poems, and letters and cards from Elizabeth Jolley, Robert Adamson and Josephine Barnes.
Includes correspondence from Elizabeth Jolley, Max Williams and Robert Adamson (enclosing 'Waggafish report number one' 1998), a report by Hewett on her Australia Council Literature Board Senior Fellowship (1985), snapshots of Hewett (1940 and 1955), a postcard photograph possibly of Hewett's childhood farmhouse and excerpts of early undated letters from Hewett.
Includes correspondence from Max Williams (enclosing a poem), Carmel Bird, Nora Heysen, Fay Zwicky and Thea Astley.
Includes letters from Drusilla Modjeska and Elizabeth Jolley, and from the Australia Council regarding a four-year Fellowship.
Includes letters from Fay Zwicky, Josephine Barnes and Elizabeth Jolley, and a royalty statement from 1992.
Includes: a postcard, possibly from Hewett to her son; letters dated in the 1960s from Randolph Stow, Katharine Susannah Prichard and Alan Marshall; later letters from Helen Garner, Josephine Barnes and Drusilla Modjeska; and a letter from the Australia Council regarding a 1986 Fellowship.
Includes: letters from Fay Zwicky, Elizabeth Jolley, Josephine Barnes, Nancy Phelan, Gwen Harwood and Max Williams; royalty statements from the 1990s; and a photograph of Hewett at a book signing.
Includes: correspondence from Elizabeth Jolley, Josephine Barnes, Drusilla Modjeska and Max Williams; a letter from the Australia Council regarding a 1998 Fellowship; texts of a book launch speech and foreword to Neap tide; a transcript of an interview of Hewett by Nicole Moore (1998); and a royalties statement for 1995.
See also Series 1 for correspondence and royalty statements from publishers and Hewett's agents, and Series 5 for further personal and family papers.
Includes undated agreements with Bulgarian and East German agencies for Bobbin up and financial statements for an Old Tote production of This old man comes rolling home (1968).
Includes letters, postcards, snapshots and negatives, notes and fragments of financial papers, originating from Hewett's parents as well as her own earlier life.
This series consists of works by Hewett positively identified as dating from her childhood and youth. See also Series 4 for undated writings possibly written as a child or adolescent, and Series 5, Folders 1-10 for juvenilia collated by Hewett as reference material for her autobiography, Wild card.
Includes poems on Aboriginal themes and one published in Overland (1971).
Poems written and illustrated by Hewett when a pupil of the Correspondence School in Western Australia for competitions at the Perth Agricultural Show.
This series comprises notes, manuscripts, typescript drafts, proofs, copies, audiovisual material and correspondence relating to Hewett's poetry, plays and prose works. The series is divided into subseries by work title. The arrangement is based loosely on date of receipt at the Library, with material from different instalments of papers brought together under title, and earliest-received papers at the beginning of each subseries. The works are both unpublished and published and are not arranged by form (i.e. poetry, plays and prose are interfiled). Papers relating to specific titles may also be found in the Miscellaneous works subseries (4.31), or under other titles where their presence is highlighted in the folder description. Where no date is indicated by the papers, dates used in subseries title descriptions have been sourced from the Austlit database.
Includes: the typescript of a short interview of Hewett; papers relating to 'The wire fences of Jarrabin' and 'Catspaw'; and a letter from Robert Adamson.
Unpublished play performed in Sydney 1969.
Subseries 4.8. 'Zimmer: a mock opera in two acts' (musical theatre) written with Robert Adamson, c. 1974
Original music by Michael Driscoll and Tom Flood. Original lyrics by Robert Adamson, Michael Driscoll and Dorothy Hewett. This work was performed only at a playwrights' conference, with Robert Adamson.
First performed in Sydney in 1976.
Performed in Sydney 1978.
Based on Joseph Conrad's short story.
First performed Sydney 1975, published 1984 in the Yackandandah Playscripts series.
Commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the founding of Western Australia, 1979.
Performed in Perth 1973.
Published by Prism, 1975.
Most of the poems in this subseries were published in the anthology, Windmill country, by Overland, 1968.
Includes a letter from Drusilla Modjeska of Angus and Robertson regarding Hewett's short story, 'The Darkling sisters'.
See also Subseries 4.3, Folder 4.
Written as three self-contained but connected plays.
Appeared in Sisters, editor Drusilla Modjeska, published by Angus and Robertson, 1993.
The papers associated with this play, as well as those in Series 5, Folders 37-40, were left by Hewett with Bill Dunstone on completion of the play at the University of Western Australia New Fortune Theatre in 1988.
This subseries contains literary papers either not identifiably associated with a known work or containing papers relating to more than one work.
Includes drafts of poems and notes for a 1994 Adelaide Festival panel discussion in which Hewett participated.
Includes manuscripts fragments, correspondence, notes and financial papers.
Includes poems, notes, a South Australian Film Corporation memo relating to Hewett's children's play 'Song of the seals', reviews and correspondence.
Includes artwork for the cover of Selected poems and a printed poster of Hewett's poem 'Pylons', illustrated with photographs of the poet.
Includes articles, poems, 'The grandmother' (short story), 'Christina's world' (libretto) and 'The Russian writer' (article).
The papers in this series include notes and notebooks, photographs, correspondence, draft material, juvenilia, family and financial papers, reviews of Wild card and audiovisual material. The majority of the papers have been identified as reference material or literary manuscripts relating to Hewett's autobiography, Wild card (which appears to have initially been entitled 'Card houses'). Exceptions are Folders 37-40. These papers were received from Bill Dunstone, with whom Hewett left them in 1988 after they had collaborated on a play by Hewett, 'The rising (raising) of Pete Marsh' (see Subseries 4.29, Folders 101-108). The interview of Hewett (transcript) and two files of articles about and by Hewett appear unrelated to this play and have been added to Series 5 by the Library.
Includes letters written by Hewett from Europe and China in 1952.
One of the notebooks contains a more recent undated photograph of Hewett and locks of hair.
10 tapes marked Side 1, Side 3, etc to Side 19
This series comprises poetry and articles by writers other than Hewett, Hewett's work adapted for the screen and writings about Hewett.
Includes: a typescript article 'Dramatic conventions and techniques in The chapel perilous by Dorothy Hewett' by Carla Dente Baschiere (University of Pisa); a photocopy of a short story, 'A Gippsland wedding. Circa 1970' by Kate Ahearne; a photocopy of 'Boozing with Hawke' by Frank Moorhouse; and an unspecified application by Hewett for a special purposes grant.
This series comprises mainly clippings of reviews of Hewett's publications and productions of her plays, together with articles about, and interviews of, Hewett which appeared in newspapers and journals or were supplied by her agents or publishers.
Includes awards, notes, invitations and a university course outline.
Largely posters and programs for productions of Hewett's plays.
Comprises: Jindyworobak anthology (1941) and programs for This old man comes rolling home (Melbourne Theatre Company) and 'Zoo' (Wagga Wagga).
Includes: beadwork, possibly a necklace or belt; cover of journal Vision (1923); and a plastic bag illustrated with photographs of poets, including Hewett.
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