Guide to the Papers of Elyne Mitchell
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Mitchell, Elyne
- Papers of Elyne Mitchell
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 9633
- 9.75 metres (62 boxes + 1 folio box)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
- This guide was prepared by the Pictures & Manuscripts Branch with the assistance of the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.
Scope and content
The papers in the collection were accumulated over the course of Mitchell's long life and career. There are drafts of nearly all her published works, including for The silver brumby, letters from many fans of her writings, correspondence with publishers, reviews of her published works and a large group of royalty statements. Of particular interest are lengthy runs of informative letters from two of her early literary mentors, Judith Wright and her cousin, Ethel Anderson. There is also a large collection of black and white photographs and negatives of the Australian alpine landscape dating from the 1930s-1940s.
Permission required for research for the lifetime of Honor Auchinleck. Not for loan.
Items from this collection should be cited as [Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Elyne Mitchell, National Library of Australia, MS 9633, [series and/or file number].
The collection was acquired from the family of Elyne Mitchell in six instalments between 2002 and 2008, with the bulk of the material being purchased in 2007. The collection was originally comprised of two components. The first component was papers that were in Mitchell's possession at the time of her death in 2002, while the second component was papers that had been left by Mitchell in the care of her agent, Curtis Brown. These two components have been brought together to form the entirety of the Elyne Mitchell Papers.
Held in the National Library's Oral History Collection at ORAL TRC 594/66 is a 1980 interview of Elyne Mitchell conducted by Klaus Hueneke. The interview is part of a series of interviews concerning the Snowy Mountains region, recorded in front of an audience.
The papers in this collection were accumulated over Elyne Mitchell's lifetime. When received, the papers were largely in no discernable order, and have been arranged into series and files by the Library. Any material grouped together by Mitchell has been retained as such, within the relevant series.
Author and grazier. (Sibyl) Elyne Keith Chauvel was born in Melbourne on 30 December 1913, the daughter of General Sir Harry and Lady Sibyl Chauvel (née Sibyl Campbell Keith Jopp). She was educated at St Catherine’s School, Melbourne
In 1935, Mitchell married grazier, lawyer, and later parliamentarian, Thomas Walter Mitchell, with whom she had four children. She moved to his family property, Towong Hill, near Corryong in the Australian Alps, where she was to spend the rest of her life. Her husband was a keen skier and introduced Mitchell to the sport, which she took up with what was to become a lifelong enthusiasm.
Mitchell is best known as a children's author for her series of novels featuring brumbies of the Snowy Mountains region of the Australian Alps, the first of which, The silver brumby was published in 1958. The novel came about because Mitchell's children were not keen on the texts they were sent to read as part of their correspondence studies. Mitchell decided to write a book they could relate to, based on the Australian alpine region in which they lived. It proved to be her most enduring work and has been reprinted a number of times, published overseas and made into a film and an animated children’s television series. It was the first in a series of sixteen highly successful children’s novels set in the Australian Alps. Her final brumby novel, Wild echoes ringing, was published posthumously in 2003.
Mitchell published several autobiographical works including her first book, Speak to the earth (1945), which documents her efforts to run Towong Hill during World War II while her husband was serving overseas and then interned in Changi Prison. Chauvel country: the story of a great Australian pioneering family (1983) sets out her family history, while Towong Hill: fifty years on an Upper Murray cattle station (1989) recounts her life on the family property. Mitchell also published several books about the Australian Alps, for which she had a great love.
In 1988 Mitchell was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to literature, and in 1993 received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Charles Sturt University.
Elyne Mitchell died at Corryong, Victoria on 4 March 2002.
Correspondence with friends. Included are two substantial runs of letters. The first is letters of Judith Wright (1948-1961), in which Wright advises on or provides comments about aspects of Mitchell's writings. Her letters also refer to her own writings and her day-to-day life. The second group is the letters of Ethel Anderson (c.1941-c.1952), who was distantly related to Mitchell. In the earlier letters, Anderson provides feedback on a chapter-by-chapter basis of drafts of Mitchell's first book, Speak to the earth, which was published in 1945. It is clear from the letters that Anderson was very much a mentor to Mitchell. In her first three published books, Mitchell publicly acknowledges Anderson's help and encouragement with her writing.
There is a smaller group of letters from Government House, Melbourne, from the Governor, Lord Huntingfield, his daughter Sara, and members of his staff, thanking Mitchell for having them to stay at Towong Hill in 1936. Several black and white photographs are also included, together with a letter written later the same year by Sara's husband, David Peel
The series also includes a small group of drafts of letters written by Mitchell to others. They include an undated carbon typescript letter (19 pages) which appears to be written from Mitchell to her husband, Tom Mitchell, recounting a horse riding expedition in the Australian Alps with her sister Eve and a group of teenage girls. There is also a carbon copy of a long manuscript letter (22 pages) from Mitchell to a Dr Evans, dated 1947, which appears to be written in instalments during a trip she was undertaking.
Other correspondents include Henrietta Drake-Brockman (1948-1958), Charles Lane Poole (c.1942) and Austin Anderson, husband of Ethel (1942).
The letters of Judith Wright, Ethel Anderson and those from Government House were grouped separately by Mitchell, and this order has been retained. The remainder of the letters have been grouped and listed chronologically by the National Library.
This large series of correspondence spans the entirety of Mitchell's career as an author. There is a large component of correspondence with publishers relating to aspects of publication of her books. There are many letters of praise from readers of her books, including a number from young readers. There are also letters from acquaintances, mostly relating to her writing or to subjects in which she had an interest
Correspondents include Alec Bolton (1983), Mary Grant Bruce (1945), Rachel Cleland (1946), Geoffrey Dutton (1983-1990), Ninette Dutton (1984-1990), T.S. Eliot (1948; 1953), Nancy Fairfax (1944), Sydney Jephcott (1943), Keith Hancock (1985), Ian Mudie (1945, 1968) and Sir Ian Wood (1959).
There was no apparent order to the letters when they were received. They have been grouped and listed in chronological order by the National Library.
Edited typescript drafts and proof copy of Mitchell's first published book, Australia's Alps. Published by Angus & Robertson in 1946.
Papers relating to Mitchell's novel, Black cockatoos mean snow, which was published by Hodder & Stoughton, London, in 1956. Included are edited typescript drafts, correspondence with publishers and editorial notes and report by Ralph Hodder-Williams.
Typescript draft and proof copy of Mitchell's children's novel Brumbies of the night, published by Angus & Robertson in 1996. There is also a disc which most likely contains an electronic version of the typescript draft.
Papers relating to Mitchell's children's novel, Brumby racer, which was illustrated by Victor Ambrus and published by Hutchinson in 1981. Includes edited typescript drafts, proofs and photocopies of illustrations.
3 files and 1 packet
Series 7. Chauvel country: the story of a great Australian pioneering family, 1982-1983 - Box 10, Box 11, Box 12
Papers relating to Mitchell's autobiographical book, Chauvel country: the story of a great Australian pioneering family, detailing her Chauvel family history and life following her marriage to Tom Mitchell. There are edited typescript drafts, a list of editorial comments from Macmillan and several photographs.
Papers relating to Mitchell's children's novel, The colt at Taparoo, which was illustrated by Victor Ambrus and published by Hutchinson in 1975. Comprises edited typescript draft and correspondence with the publisher.
Typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, The colt from Snowy River, which was published by Hutchinson in 1979. Illustrations by Victor Ambrus.
Edited typescript drafts and proof copies of Mitchell's children's novel, Dancing brumby, published by Angus & Robertson in 1995.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, Dancing brumby's rainbow, published by Angus & Robertson in 1998. Included is a disc, most likely containing an electronic version of the final draft.
Papers relating to Mitchell's semi-autobiographical history of the exploration of the Kosciusko region in the Snowy Mountains. There is a large group of research papers comprising notes; copies of early writings of others, some dating from the 1800; copies of early photographs; and correspondence with various people about the subject, including Klaus Hueneke. There are also edited typescript drafts and proof sheets, and the draft of a speech Mitchell made about researching the book.
Papers relating to Mitchell's novel, Flow river, blow wind, which was published by Australasian Publishing in 1953. There are edited typescript drafts, editorial notes and correspondence with publishers.
An edited typescript draft of Mitchell's semi-autobiographical book of essays about the Australian alpine region. Published by Angus & Robertson in 1947 and containing photographs taken by her husband, Tom Mitchell.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, Jinki, dingo of the snows, which was published by Hutchinson in 1969.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, Kingfisher feather, published by Hutchinson in 1962.
Papers relating to Mitchell's novel based on the film The Lighthorsemen, which was published by Penguin Books Australia in 1987. The script for the movie, which first screened in 1987, was written by Ian Jones and inspired by Frank Dalby Davison's book The wells of Beersheba, published in 1947. There are edited typescript drafts; editorial notes; correspondence with Ian Jones and the publishers; and copies of drafts of Jones' movie scripts dated 1983 and 1986.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's book tracing the history of the Australian Army's cavalry troop, the Light Horse, from the Boer War to Gallipoli. Her father, General Sir Harry Chauvel, commanded the Light Horse, and part of Mitchell's research for the book draws on family letters, records and photographs. There are editorial notes and proof sheets.
3 files and 2 packets
Papers relating to Mitchell's novel for children about the Australian Army's Light Horse cavalry troop. It was published by Hutchinson in 1971 and contains illustrations by Victor Ambrus. There are edited typescript drafts, a reader's report and photocopies of the illustrations.
Papers relating to Mitchell's novel based on the film The man from Snowy River, which first screened in 1982. The script for the film was written by John Dixon from a screenplay by Fred Cul Cullen, which was based on the poem of the same name by Banjo Patterson. There are edited typescript drafts of the novel; correspondence with publishers, editorial notes, a copy of the script, scene outlines and film ephemera. The book was published by Angus & Robertson in 1982.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, Moon filly, which was illustrated by Robert Hales and published by Hutchinson in 1968.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel Silver brumbies of the south published by Hutchinson in 1965. Also included is a photocopy of an illustration for the cover of the HarperCollins publication of 2000.
Papers relating to the first children's novel written by Mitchell, entitled The silver brumby. It was published by Hutchinson in 1958, with illustrations by Ralph Thompson. The novel came about because Mitchell's children were not keen on the texts they were sent to read as part of their correspondence studies. Mitchell decided to write a book that they could relate to, based on the Australian alpine region in which they lived. The novel was to prove enduringly successful, with many editions in a number of countries being published in the ensuing years. In addition, a film version and an animation series based on the book were also produced (see Series 40).
The papers in this series comprise edited typescript drafts, chapter outlines, proofs and correspondence, 1999-2000, with HarperCollins regarding a proposed classic edition of the book.
3 files and 1 packet. The contents of File 1 have been rehoused into 2 security binders.
Edited typescript drafts and correspondence with publishers relating to Mitchell's children's novel, Silver brumby kingdom. Published by Hutchinson in 1966.
Papers relating to the second of Mitchell's children's novels about the brumbies of the Australian Alps, Silver brumby's daughter, which was published by Hutchinson in 1960. There are edited typescript drafts, correspondence with publishers, a signed contract and the draft of a talk by Mitchell for Children's Book Week, 1959.
Papers relating to Mitchell's children's novel, Silver brumby, silver dingo, which was published by Angus & Robertson in 1993. There are edited typescript drafts and notes, correspondence with the publisher, editorial notes and a signed contract.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, Silver brumby whirlwind, which was illustrated by Victor Ambrus and published by Hutchinson in 1973.
A semi-autobiographical collection of essays by Mitchell about the Snowy Mountains, published by Rigby in 1980. Illustrated with the photographs of Mike James. Papers include edited typescript drafts, correspondence with publishers and proofs.
Papers relating to Mitchell's children's novel, Snowy River brumby, which was illustrated by Victor Ambrus and published by Hutchinson in 1981. There are edited typescript drafts, editorial notes and proofs.
Mitchell’s third book, Soil and Civilisation, presents an historical argument for the considered preservation of the land and environment. It was published by Angus & Robertson, London, in 1946. Papers include typescript drafts and correspondence with publishers.
Papers relating to Mitchell's children's novel, Son of the whirlwind, which was illustrated by Victor Ambrus and published by Hutchinson in 1976. There are edited typescript drafts, correspondence with the publishers, editorial notes and photocopies of illustrations.
Typescript drafts of Mitchell's second book, Speak to the earth, which was published by Angus & Robertson, London, in 1945. It is an autobiographical account of her experiences in managing the family property, Towong Hill, while her husband was interned in Changi Prison during World War II.
Mitchell's autobiographical account of her married life, spent at her home, Towong Hill, in the Australian Alps. Published by Macmillan in 1989. Papers comprise edited typescript drafts and a small file of research notes.
Mitchell's collection of her poetry and autobiographical essays about the Snowy Mountains was published by Macmillan in 1988. There are edited typescript drafts and slides of images used in the book.
3 files and 1 packet
Papers relating to Mitchell's last brumby novel, Wild echoes ringing, which was published posthumously by Angus & Robertson in 2003 in a special edition of The silver brumby. There are typescript drafts, edited by Mitchell's daughter, Honor Auchinleck, editorial notes and correspondence with the publishers.
Edited typescript drafts of Mitchell's children's novel, Winged skis, which was published by Hutchinson in 1964.
Edited typescripts, mostly undated, of short stories and articles written by Mitchell, some of which were published. Some files contain letters from publishers.
There are several files containing miscellaneous groupings of short stories and articles that were created by Mitchell, and this arrangement has been retained. The remainder of the typescripts were in no discernable order and have been grouped and listed alphabetically by title by the National Library.
This series comprises mainly a large group of drafts of poems by Mitchell, some of which were published. There are also drafts of two book reviews and forewords she wrote for two books by others. Some files contain letters from publishers.
On receipt of the collection, most of the poems were found grouped randomly within files, and the remainder were loose in the boxes. No attempt has been made by the Library to impose an order on them.
Typescript drafts, mostly edited, of several unpublished books by Mitchell. Some files contain letters from publishers. There are drafts of three novels, all set in the Australian alpine region. The earliest, dating from c.1948, includes a note from Mitchell to Ethel Anderson in which she sets out details of character and plot development. Another, 'The cross on the snow' is a thriller set in the Australian snow fields. There are drafts of two books of collections of Mitchell’s non-fiction short stories on alpine themes and skiing
There are edited typescript drafts of what appears to be a joint autobiographical work by Elyne and Tom Mitchell of an eighteen-month trip to the United States of America, Chile, Argentina and Europe, which they undertook from 1937-1939. There are also typescript drafts of autobiographical writings by Mitchell.
Most of the drafts were grouped within files by Mitchell. Several loose chapters were found within the boxes.
See also Series 45 travel journal.
Papers relating to a film adaptation and an animated children's television series, both produced by Media World Features, based on Mitchell’s novel The silver brumby.
The premiere of the film The silver brumby screened in 1993. The script was written by John Tatoulis and Jon Stephens. Papers include the film treatment, a fourth draft of the script, the shooting schedule, ephemera related to the release of the film and promotional schedules for media appearances by Mitchell.
Jon Stephens and Judy Malmgren wrote the scripts for the animated children's television series based on The silver brumby. Thirty-nine episodes were produced between 1996 and 1998 and they were sold to over thirty countries around the world. Included in this series are story outlines and scripts for episodes 1-9 of the series.
A large collection of press cuttings. There are reviews of published books, articles, poetry and reviews written by Mitchell; articles about Mitchell and her husband; and articles about her extended family, in particular her father, General Sir Harry Chauvel. There is a large group of cuttings about skiing in the Australian Alps for the period 1935-1937, some of which mention Mitchell and her husband. There are also groups of cuttings on subjects of general interest to Mitchell, including military history.
The cuttings have been grouped and listed by subject by the National Library.
Magazines and journals featuring articles, short stories and poetry by Mitchell. They include Meanjin papers, Walkabout, Wild life, Hoofs and horns, The Bulletin, Quadrant, and Southerly.
There are also two small publications signed by the author, Henrietta Drake-Brockman, entitled Education for life (1941) and On the north-west skyline (1948), together with a booklet entitled The essential eucalypts and their effects on the soil of Australia (1945).
5 files and 4 packets
Black and white photographs, packets of black and white negatives and colour slides. The main subject is the landscape of the Australian Alps with other subjects including skiers, alpine flora, and scenes around Mitchell's property, Towong Hill. Some of the photographs are identified as appearing in Mitchell's published works. Where photographs or packets of negatives have been identified, this information has been included in the file descriptions.
There are also photographs and negatives of ski trips overseas in the 1940s; two albums of early photographs of Mitchell and her family (c.1927-1933); and a small group of photographs of her children and home. Apart from the family photographs, a small group of later photographs and the slides, the bulk of the photographs and negatives in this series date from the 1930s-1940s
An extensive group of royalty statements detailing payments made to Mitchell from sales of her books.
Typescript pages and related ephemera and photographs, pasted into a journal. Partial account of an eighteen-month trip Elyne and Tom Mitchell took to the United States of America, Chile, Argentina and Europe. Commences 25 November 1937 and concludes 18 December 1937.
See also Series 39 Unpublished books
A small group of papers that are biographical in content. Included are several versions of Mitchell's curriculum vitae; papers relating to various awards she received including the Order of Australia (1990) and an Honorary Degree from Charles Sturt University (1993); a report of the 1937 Australian Championships (skiing); and typescripts of writings about Mitchell.
3 files and 1 packet
A miscellaneous group of ephemeral papers accumulated by Mitchell. Includes memorabilia from the Royal Visit to Australia by Queen Elizabeth II, 1954; cards, invitations and menus from official functions; catalogue for the sale of the Towong Hill Stud, 1959; lists of items for camping trips, 1939-1944; newsletter of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, 1934; Order of Service for funeral of Tom Mitchell, 1984; and school memorabilia for Mitchell's children John (school report, 1965), and Indi (spelling test, 1956).
4 files and 1 packet