Guide to the Papers of Roger McDonald
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- McDonald, Roger, 1941-
- Papers of Roger McDonald
- Date Range
- 1954 - 2009
- Collection Number
- MS 5612
- 11.55 metres (1 poster tube + 1 medium phase box + 67 ms boxes)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
The papers in MS 5612 document Roger McDonald's activities as an editor, poet and novelist and his relations with publishers, film producers, the ABC and literary editors. The bulk of the collection comprises papers relating to most of McDonald's published works, dating from his first publication in 1968 up until 1994. Papers include research material, edited drafts, correspondence with editors and publishers and reviews he has written. They provide a good insight into the development of his published writings. During the course of his career, McDonald has corresponded with many other writers, including Murray Bail, Bruce Beaver, Bruce Dawe, Geoffrey Dutton, Gwen Harwood, Shirley Hazzard, David Malouf, Les Murray, Thomas Shapcott, R.A. Simpson and Judith Wright. Also included in the collection is research material for a number of McDonald's literary projects, business papers, papers relating to his work as literary editor for University of Queensland Press, photographs and newspaper clippings (67 boxes, 1 phase box, 1 fol. roll).
Conditions Governing Access
Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn2623912).
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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Roger McDonald, National Library of Australia, [class/series/file number]'.
The papers of Roger McDonald have been purchased by the Library in a number of instalments during the period October 1976 to May 1996. Further papers were added in 2011.
Finding Aid Source
Please note: This finding aid may comprise or contain descriptive information provided by donors, researchers and/or volunteers.
Collection Retrieval Advice
Please note: each consignment in this collection has a separate box number sequence (i.e. there are multiple Box 1's). Please cite the relevant Class number as well as the Box number when requesting retrieval of material from the collection.
Roger Hugh McDonald is an author, poet, screenplay writer, literary editor and literary reviewer. Born in Young, New South Wales on 23 June 1941, he married the poet Rhyll McMaster in 1967 and they have three children.
McDonald was educated at Temora and Bourke primary schools and The Scots College, Bellevue Hill, Sydney. He completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Diploma of Education at Sydney University in 1962. In 1970, McDonald completed a course in 'Indonesian Elementary Special' from the University of Queensland, Institute of Modern Languages.
After completing his degree, McDonald worked as a teacher with the New South Wales Education Department, before joining the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), where he trained as a producer and director of schools' radio and television. He went on to direct television, including studio, outside broadcast and film programmes with ABC Education in Hobart and Brisbane.
McDonald joined the University of Queensland Press in Brisbane in 1969 as poetry editor, a position he held until 1976. During his time there he was responsible for the Paperback Poets series. In 1977 he moved to Canberra in order take up writing full-time, but continued as part-time poetry editor until the early 1980s.
McDonald moved to a farm near Braidwood, NSW in 1981.
McDonald's first book, Citizens of mist - a collection of his poetry - was published in 1968. Since then, he has gone on to publish a number of works in a variety of genres including both fiction and non-fiction, poetry and short stories, as well as writing scripts for television mini-series and documentaries. Although the genres are varied, his works reflect his love of Australia, depicting as they do various aspects of Australian life, culture and history.
During the course of his career, McDonald has received a number of grants and fellowships from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. These have helped him to pursue his career as a full-time writer.
During the course of his career, McDonald has corresponded with many other writers. The correspondents in this series include Murray Bail, Bruce Beaver, Gary Catalano, Iain Crichton Smith, Bruce Dawe, Geoffrey Dutton, Jamie Grant, Gwen Harwood, Shirley Hazzard, David Malouf, Les Murray, Geoff Page, Peter Porter, Judith Rodriguez, Thomas Shapcott, R.A. Simpson, Ray Smith, Mark Strand, Andrew Taylor, Robin Thurston and Judith Wright. There are also a number of letters from McDonald's mother, the historian Lorna McDonald.
Also included is correspondence with Frank Thompson, manager and publisher of University of Queensland Press in 1958-83, who was an influential figure in McDonald's life.
Correspondents include Murray Bail, Bruce Beaver, Bruce Dawe, Gwen Harwood, David Malouf, Les Murray, Geoff Page, Peter Porter, Thomas Shapcott, John Tranter, Robin Thurston and Judith Wright. (McDonald's index to this correspondence is found in File 1)
Correspondents include John Gleeson (ABC), Neil McPherson, Frank Thompson (UQP) and Michael Wilding (University of Sydney).
Correspondents include Geoffrey Dutton, Geoff Page, Judith Rodriguez and Thomas Shapcott.
This series comprises general business papers, mostly relating to McDonald's work as an author. They include correspondence with publishers and with the Literature Board of the Australia Council relating to applications for various grants and diaries and notes kept while on official overseas visits.
McDonald was poetry editor for University of Queensland Press from 1969 to 1976 while living in Brisbane, and part-time poetry editor from 1977 to the early 1980s while living in Canberra. The bulk of this series comprises editorial correspondence and reader's reports relating to McDonald's work for University of Queensland Press. There are also reader's reports written by McDonald after this time, for Allen and Unwin.
Reader's reports and correspondence with University of Queensland Press and ANU Press, 1977-84 (File 1)
Included are reports on books by Jessica Anderson, Julian Croft, T.M. Couper and Philip Martin.
Included is correspondence relating to the start of the University of Queensland Press paperback poets anthology series, part one of which was edited by McDonald. There is also correspondence with Tom Keneally, Richard Packer, Grace Perry and Richard Walsh.
Correspondence with prison poet Robin Thurston (Believed dangerous, University of Queensland Press, 1975), 1976 (File 3)
'Enid' was a prisons visitor who took up Thurston's case. Correspondence and editing material relating to John Manifold's poetry collection, 1976-77
Correspondence with Bruce Beaver regarding the editing of his book of prose As it was (University of Queensland Press, 1979), 1977-79 (File 4)
Papers, 1976-79, regarding the editing of a Peter Kocan manuscript which eventually became The Treatment (Angus and Robertson, 1980) and The cure (Angus and Robertson, 1983)
Correspondence with Rodney Hall regarding editing of his book Black Bagatelles (University of Queensland Press, 1978), 1977-78 (File 7)
Correspondence regarding the editing of a collection of Michael Dransfield's work, 1977-78
Correspondence regarding a proposed book by Judith Rodriguez, 1977
Correspondence, 1977-78, with Kevin Gilbert regarding editing of his book People are legends: aboriginal poems (University of Queensland Press, 1978)
Correspondence and papers relating to Seven Russian poets (University of Queensland Press, 1979) edited by Rosemary Dobson and David Campbell, 1979 (File 11)
Reader's report on an unpublished book by Maurilia Meehan entitled 'Shincracker', 1987
Included are reports for works by Lissa Benyon, Scott Bernard, Bob Brissenden, C. Inglis, Jeri Kroll and Renata Yates
McDonald's first book of poetry, Citizens of mist, was published by University of Queensland Press, Brisbane in 1968. This series consists of drafts of poems for the book.
McDonald's first book of prose, a semi-historical work entitled 1915: a novel, was published by University of Queensland Press, Brisbane in 1979. The book received much acclaim, winning the The Age Book of the Year Award and the South Australian Government Biennial Literature Prize. This series comprises manuscripts and typescripts, research notes, correspondence, publicity material and photographs relating to the book.
McDonald scripted a television mini-series based on the book for ABC-TV, which was released in 1982. Also included in this series is correspondence relating to the development of the series, contracts and a copy of the script.
Included are bound notebooks, an early draft (100,000 words), 2nd draft (150,000 words), corrected typescript and 'final' typescript with revisions.
Included are research enquiries, correspondence with publishers, launch arrangements and letters of congratulation about the book.
Corrected manuscripts of two short stories which were later incorporated into the book: 'The scaffold', published in the National Times, and 'Pigs run', published in Makar: magazine of new writing, 1976 (File 40-42)
Also included is correspondence with the National Times
Papers relating to an earlier abortive attempt to make a television series of the book, 1980 (File 62-64)
They include correspondence with various film companies, research notes, typescripts and a copy of the series treatment by McDonald and Ian Hart.
They include a copy of the contract and correspondence with the ABC, the Australian Film Commission, University of Queensland Press and William Collins.
Correspondence, 1980-82, relating to the Swedish translation of the book and its publication by Forum, Stockholm in 1982, 1982 (File 69)
Research notes, 1976-77
McDonald's novel about aviation, Slipstream, was published by University of Queensland Press, Brisbane in 1982. The papers in this series include notebooks, typescripts, correspondence, reviews and photographs relating to the novel.
Notebook A contains background notes; B-C the first draft; D-E a redraft; F completely redrafted version.
Correspondents include Elizabeth Riddell and University of New South Wales.
Morgan was the basis of the character Leonard Baxter in the novel.
An interview with McDonald was included in Candida Baker's book Yacker 2: Australian writers talk about their work, published by Pan MacMillan, Sydney in 1987. This series contains transcripts, with deletions and alterations, of McDonald's interview for the book.
Comprises 1 file.
In 1986 McDonald was approached by Roadshow, Coote and Carroll to write one of the episodes for a thirteen-part drama anthology series for the Australian Bicentennial, called Michael Willesee's Australians. 'Simpson and his donkey' was McDonald's contribution to the series. McDonald went on to compile a book of the series entitled Michael Willesee's Australians, which was published by Bantam Books, Sydney in 1988. This series comprises research notes, typescripts of the screenplay and correspondence, mainly with Roadshow, Coote and Carroll regarding McDonald's involvement in the project.
Correspondence, mainly regarding a dispute with Roadshow, Coote and Carroll over outstanding royalty payments, 1988-89 (File 12-13)
Newspaper clippings about the book, 1989
With Sue Masters, McDonald co-wrote the script for a 4-part television mini-series on the life of Nellie Melba entitled Melba. The series, which screened in 1988, was based on the book Melba: a biography, written by John Hetherington. It was directed by Rodney Fisher and produced by Errol Sullivan for CB Films. Following on from his research for the television mini-series, McDonald also wrote a book entitled Melba, the novel, which was published by William Collins, Sydney in 1988.
The papers in this series include research notes, drafts of the script and the book, newspaper clippings and correspondence with CB Films and publishers. Also included is correspondence with Pamela Vestey, Nellie Melba's granddaughter.
Correspondence, financial records and research notes relating to the television series, 1983-88 (File 60)
orrespondents included Holding Redich & Co. (solicitors), Errol Sullivan and Pamela Vestey.
McDonald's novel about horse racing, Rough wallaby, was published by Bantam Books, Sydney in 1989. In 1990 he wrote a screenplay adaptation of the novel for Southern Star Sullivan Films, but the film was never produced. This series consists of drafts of the novel, research papers and correspondence with publishers and with the Canadian author Jack Hodgins.
Correspondents include Transworld Publishers and Pan Books.
McDonald edited a collection of stories by twelve Australian authors, who were asked to write on a part of Australia that held a special meaning for them. Entitled Gone bush: Australian writers take a walk, the book was published by Bantam Books, Sydney in 1990. Apart from McDonald, contributors to the book were Jack Davis, Geoffrey Dutton, Helen Garner, Elizabeth Jolley, Frank Moorhouse, Les Murray, Mudrooroo Narogin, Bruce Pascoe, Barney Roberts, Sue Woolfe and Judith Wright.
The papers in this series include correspondence with contributing authors, drafts of some contributions and reviews of the book.
Included are biographical details and drafts of some of the contributions.
In 1989 McDonald worked as a shearers' cook for a team of New Zealand shearers, travelling through New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. In 1990, he undertook a six-week outback trip with Canadian author Jack Hodgins, during which he interviewed many of the people he had worked with the previous year. McDonald recounted his experiences as a shearers' cook in his book Shearers' motel, published by Pan Macmillan, Sydney in 1992. This book was awarded the CUB Banjo Award for non-fiction in 1993. McDonald also wrote the television adaptation of the book for ABC-TV, entitled Cross turning over, which was screened in 1996.
The papers in this series include research material, notebooks, transcripts of interviews, audio tapes of the book, reviews, photographs and correspondence, mainly with Hodgins.
Jack Hodgins published a non-fiction book based on his trip with McDonald. Entitled Over forty in Broken Hill, it was published by University of Queensland Press in 1992. Included in this series are reviews and a copy of the book.
Also included are publicity photographs of McDonald taken by Virginia Wallace-Crabbe.
Included are a booklet of extracts from the book, a pre-publication copy of the book and a poster.
Typescript of an article McDonald wrote about New Zealand shearers for The Independent Monthly, November 1990 (File 16)
This article was used as the basis for 'A Kiwi shed', an ABC-TV documentary scripted by McDonald for the program A big country in 1991. Extracts from the article were also incorporated into the book.
Included are McDonald's Australian Workers' Union membership ticket, Pastoral Award pay rates, a notebook of recipes and menus and a notebook containing interviews, some of which were incorporated into the book.
Correspondents include Jack Hodgins, Robin Lucas, the National Book Council and Tim Winton.
Typescript of a talk given by McDonald at New Edition Bookshop in 1992 entitled 'The story of Rosie', 1992 (File 23)
A sequel to events in the book, it relates to the death of Erina Scia Scia, who was killed by her boyfriend in 1992. The character 'Rosie' in the book was based in Erina.
A copy of the speech by Eric Rolls at the launch of the book at the Brisbane Warana Writers' Festival., 1992 (File 24)
Reviews of the book
A 1989 article in The New Yorker about water divining was the inspiration for McDonald's novel Water Man, which was published by Picador, Sydney in 1993.This series consists mainly of drafts of the novel.
In 1993 McDonald undertook several trips with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. These trips were the basis for his book Australia's flying doctors: the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, which was published by Pan Macmillan, Sydney in 1994. McDonald wrote the text, and the photographs were taken by Richard Woldendorp.
This small series consists of journals kept by McDonald of his trips, a journal article by McDonald about the Royal Flying Doctors and correspondence with the Royal Flying Doctor Service regarding a reader's complaint about the book.
McDonald contributed a story entitled 'Surrender' for a collection of short stories entitled Men love sex, edited by Alan Close and published by Vintage, Sydney in 1995. This series consists of typescripts of McDonald's contribution to the collection (1 file).
In 1990 McDonald prepared a film treatment of Randolph Stow's 1958 book To the islands for Titus Films. This series comprises research notes, typescript of McDonald's film treatment and correspondence relating to the project.
In the 1960s McDonald joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), where he trained as a producer and director of schools' radio and television. He directed television, including studio, outside broadcast and film programs for ABC Education.
This series consists of drafts of scripts written by McDonald and correspondence relating to his work for the ABC.
Poetry was the genre in which McDonald first established a reputation for himself, with his first two published books being collections of poetry. As well as this, he has had a number of his poems published in newspapers and journals and was poetry editor for University of Queensland Press for a number of years.
This series contains a large collection of drafts of poems by McDonald, mostly undated and many never published.
This series consists of drafts of unpublished books and short stories by McDonald.
As well as his published books, McDonald has had poetry, literary reviews and short stories published in a number of newspapers, journals and magazines. He has also written several screenplays and has appeared as a guest speaker at literary events.
This series comprises drafts of McDonald's writings and copies of newspapers, journals and magazines containing items written by him.
McDonald compiled a collection of newspaper and magazine items, mostly works of other poets, which are contained in this series.
Personal papers and memorabilia accumulated by McDonald are contained in this series. They include McDonald's maternal family tree, school and university papers, travel diaries and newspaper clippings.
This series comprises mainly black and white publicity photographs of McDonald.
A miscellaneous collection of papers accumulated by McDonald are contained in this series.
Included are copies of various journals (1956-69), papers from a conference on Teaching of Australian Literature (1971) and entry forms for various literary competitions.