Guide to the Papers of Harold Stewart


MS 8973, MS Acc07.056

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Stewart, Harold, 1916-1995
Papers of Harold Stewart
Date Range
1933 - 1995
Collection Number
MS 8973, MS Acc07.056
4.8 metres (32 boxes + 1 item + 2 audiovisual carriers)
Language of Materials
Special Collections (Manuscripts)


Scope and Contents

MS 8973 comprises personal, publishers' and general correspondence; financial papers; travel diaries; notebooks relating to Harold Stewart's works and his interest in Asian history and culture; typescripts and other papers relating to his published works A chime of windbells, Tannisho, and By the old walls of Kyoto; manuscripts and typescripts of his unpublished works Over the vermilion bridge, New phoenix wings, and Autumn landscape roll; essays and other papers. Major correspondents include the Australia Council, Carmen Blacker, Tess van Sommers d'Alpuget, Dorothy Green, Michael Heyward (author of The Ern Malley affair), Henry Horwege, Stewart's patron Heinz Karrer, Peter Kelly, the potter Milton Moon, Ruth Niland (Park), Peter Talbot Wilcox, and John Weatherhill Inc. (32 boxes).

Conditions Governing Access

Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information (

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Harold Stewart, National Library of Australia, MS 8973, [series and/or folder number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were bequeathed to the Library by Harold Stewart and were acquired in October 1995. The executor of the estate, Bishop Peter Hillebrand, wrote to many of Stewart's correspondents suggesting that they donate letters from Stewart to the Library. Papers acquired in this manner, while not strictly part of the Stewart Papers, form series 16.

Biographical / Historical

Harold Frederick Stewart was a poet and Oriental scholar. He was born on 14 December 1916 and died on 7 Aug. 1995. Stewart grew up Drummoyne, NSW and was educated at Fort Street Boys High School and the State Conservatorium of Music. In 1936 he attended the University of Sydney but did not complete a degree.

In 1941 he was conscripted and sent to the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs at the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne. In 1943 Stewart and James McAuley perpetrated the Ern Malley hoax against Max Harris, the editor of the modernist literary magazine Angry Penguins.

After the war Stewart lived in Melbourne and worked at the Norman Robb bookstore. In 1950 he organised a reading group in Asian philosophy, and during the 1950s ran courses for the Victorian Council of Adult Education on literature, music and Asian art and worked as a broadcaster with the ABC.

While Stewart's early writings were in the European classic tradition, his later works reflected his interest in Chinese and Japanese history and culture. His first book of poems, Phoenix wings was published by Angus & Robertson in 1948. In 1956 a sequence of poems entitled Orpheus and other poems was also published by Angus & Robertson. This work had previously won the Sydney Morning Herald 1949 verse competition.

In 1959-60 Stewart was awarded the Saionji Memorial Scholarship to study Japanese culture in Japan for one year. He visited Japan in 1961 and 1963 and in 1966 moved to Kyoto, never returning to Australia. In Kyoto he studied under Bando Shojun, a Shin Buddhist priest and Professor of Buddhism at Otani Daigaku (Shin Buddhist University in Kyoto). He continued to write, supported largely by Australia Council literature grants and his patron, Heinz Karrer.

His later publications were the haiku translations A net of fireflies (Rutland, Vt : C. E. Tuttle, 1960) and A chime of windbells (Rutland, Vt : C. E. Tuttle, 1969), the limited edition of The exiled immortal : a song-cycle (Canberra : Brindabella Press, 1980), Tannisho (Eastern Buddhist Society, 1980) a translation of the 13th century text written by Yuien-bo (with Bando Shojun), and (New York: Weatherhill, 1981), an account in verse of twelve of Kyoto's historic sights.

In 1987 Stewart was awarded the Fellowship of Australian Writers' Christopher Brennan Award.

In the year before his death, Stewart completed his largest work "Autumn landscape roll", a 5000 line poem on a voyage to the afterlife by the Tang dynasty poet Wu Tao Tzu.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 8973. Original Consignment

Series 1. Out-letters, 1962-95

Carbon copies of letters by Harold Stewart. Correspondents include Titus Burckhardt, Stewart's sister Marion Riley, Dorothy Green, Jane Carnegie, Australia Council, Alec Bolton, Verna Sabelle, Ken Henderson, Heinz Karrer, Dr Carmen Blacker, Australian Society of Authors, Clive Faust, Bando Shojun, and Jeffrey Hunter.

The letters to his sister describe his travels in Japan, 1966-67, while others discuss dreams, Zen Buddhism, the career of Masaaki Ueshima, Chinese symbols, an article for Hemisphere, reasons for his preferences for Asian traditions in his later poetry rather than Western , Japanese society, his refusal to sanction the publication of the Ern Malley collages and poems and the publication of The exiled immortal, By the old walls of Kyoto and "New phoenix wings". Some letters also contain comments on other writers' works. There are also fragments of letters, possibly used by Stewart for articles or other writings.

The letters are arranged chronologically (2 files).

Series 2. Publishers' correspondence, 1967-95

See also series 3, files 11 and 12 for correspondence with Alec Bolton and Bob Brissenden relating to publications.

Hemisphere, 1970-75 (File 1)

Correspondence from Ken Henderson.

Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968-95 (File 2)

Correspondence relating to the publication of the first and second editions of A net of fireflies, and rejections of By the old walls of Kyoto, "Over the vermilion bridge" and "New phoenix wings".

John Weatherhill Inc., 1967, 1978-93 (File 3-5)

Correspondence and carbon copies of letters by Stewart concerning the publication of By the old walls of Kyoto. Also includes some copies of letters by the Australia Council concerning subsidies for the work, the publishing agreement and some notes.

Westerly, 1987-93 (File 6)

Correspondence with Dennis Haskell relating to contributions.

Other publishers' correspondence, 1971-95 (File 7)

Includes the National Geographic Society, Penguin books, Angus & Robertson, Jonathan Cape Limited, Oxford University Press, Faber & Faber and the Independent Monthly.

Series 3. General correspondence, 1955-95

Personal, family and other correspondence received by Stewart. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent for significant correspondents, and chronologically for occasional correspondents. Major correspondents include the Australia Council, Dr Carmen Blacker, Tess van Sommers d'Alpuget, Dorothy Green, Michael Heyward (author of The Ern Malley affair), Heinz Karrer, Peter Kelly, Milton Moon, Ruth Niland (Park) and Peter Talbot Wilcox.

Correspondents represented in the chronological run include Brenda Williamson, Dal Stivens, Geoffrey Borrack, K. & T. Brummer, Sir James Plimsoll (Ambassador to Japan and Governor of Tasmania), Patricia Pound, Jane Carnegie, James McAuley, Jeffrey Smart, Alec Hope, Dr Peter G. Moore and the Australian Embassy (Tokyo).

Some of the letters contain photographs and clippings.

Australia Council Literature Board, 1976-95 (File 1-4)
Guilford Bell (and Denis Kelynack and T. Graham Fisher),, 1981-93 (File 5)
Dr Carmen Blacker (includes a review of By the old walls of Kyoto), 1970-95 (File 6-10)
Alec Bolton, 1978-81 (File 11)
R.F. Brissenden, 1983-88 (File 12)
Alison Broinowski, 1983-87 (File 12)
Don Buck, 1989-92 (File 13)
Darryl Collins, 1978-93 (File 14)
Michael Cook, 1988-95 (File 14)
Tess van Sommers d'Alpuget, 1979-95 (File 15-16)
Rawdon Dalrymple, 1990-92 (File 17)
Rosemary Dobson, 1974-76 (File 18)
Michael Easson, 1992-94 (File 18)
Geoffrey Fairbairn, 1980 (File 18)
James Fairfax, 1982-93 (File 19)
Clive Faust, 1982-83 (File 20)
Fayette Gosse, 1982-91 (File 21)
Dorothy Green, 1969-90 (File 22-26)
Peter Grime, 1993-94 (File 27)
Michael Heyward, 1983-93 (File 28-29)
Marie E. Hewitt, 1988-95 (File 30)
Ian Hunt, 1993-94 (File 31)
Hisao Inagaki, 1981-92 (File 32)
Heinz Karrer, 1969-85 (File 33-34)
Peter Kelly, 1974-95 (File 35)
Gwendda Milston, 1989 (File 36)
Milton Moon, 1980-96 (File 37-40)
Wayne Morioka, 1978-94 (File 41)
Peter Muller, 1970-94 (File 42)
Michael Murray, 1990-91 (File 43)
Ruth Niland (Park) (and Rory Niland), 1980-95 (File 44-46)
Marion Riley, 1974-82 (File 47)
Verna Sabelle, 1979-85 (File 48)
S. Durai Raja Singam, 1974-95 (File 48)
Gwynneth Smith, 1980-95 (File 48)
Peter Talbot Willcox, 1979-95 (File 49-52)
[Title not available], 1955, 1965-69 (File 53)
[Title not available], 1970-71 (File 54)
[Title not available], 1973-74 (File 55)
[Title not available], 1975-76 (File 56)
[Title not available], 1977-78 (File 57)
[Title not available], 1979-80 (File 58)
[Title not available], 1981 (File 59)
[Title not available], 1982 (File 60)
[Title not available], 1983 (File 61)
[Title not available], 1984 (File 62)
[Title not available], 1985-86 (File 63)
[Title not available], 1987-88 (File 64)
[Title not available], 1989-90 (File 65)
[Title not available], 1991 (File 66)
[Title not available], 1992 (File 67)
[Title not available], 1993 (File 68)
[Title not available], 1994 (File 69-70)
[Title not available], 1995 (File 71)
Undated correspondence (File 72-73)

Series 4. Financial papers, 1966-95

Financial correspondence and papers relating to income tax, banking and other financial matters, 1969-92 (File 1-2)
Carbon copies of letters and correspondence relating to visa applications, 1967-85, 1995 (File 3)
Royalty statements, 1966-92 (File 4)
Public lending right claimant advice forms and other papers, 1976-83 (File 5)
Receipts and invoices (File 6)

Series 5. Travel diaries, 1961, 1966-69

Typescript diary of Stewart's voyage to, and impressions of Japan, 1961 and manuscript and typescript copies of diaries of his travels around Japan, 1966-69 (2 files + 1 vol.).

Series 6. Notebooks

Undated notebooks containing notes and quotes relating to classical and Oriental mythology, symbolism, history, art, science, philosophy, Taoism, and other subjects. Also includes three notebooks containing haiku (2 files).

Series 7. Haiku translations

Stewart published two volumes of haiku translations: A net of fireflies and A chime of windbells. A third complete volume, "Over the vermilion bridge", was not published at the time of Stewart's death. A fourth volume was in progress.

Subseries 7a. A chime of windbells (Rutland, Vt: C. E. Tuttle, 1969)

Typescript carbon copy with ms corrections of Stewart's translations of haiku, prose essay and notes (159p.) (2 files).

Subseries 7b. 'Over the vermilion bridge'

Notebook and typescripts of Stewart's translations of haiku by Ho-o with an introduction and notes (4 files)

Subseries 7c. Haiku for volume IV

Working notebook containing haiku translations for a proposed fourth volume (1 vol.)

Series 8. Tannisho

Published by the Eastern Buddhist Society, 1980.

Corrected typescript of Tannisho: passages deploring deviations of faith, translated by Bando Shojun and Harold Stewart (1 folder)

Series 9. By the old walls of Kyoto

Sequence of 13 seasonal poems on celebrated sights of Kyoto, with 13 prose commentaries on their cultural and religious significance, published by Weatherhill, 1981.

Two corrected typescripts, a typescript copy of the index, typescripts of rejected verse and prose, and a revised and corrected copy of the book (5 files + 1 vol.).

Series 10. 'New phoenix wings'

Unpublished volume of selected poems from Phoenix wings (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1948), Orpheus and other poems (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1956) and The exiled immortal (Canberra: Brindabella Press, 1980). Stewart considered the poems in "New phoenix wings" to be the definitive versions.

The series contains corrected photocopies of published poems, a corrected copy of Orpheus and other poems, "Draft notes for advertisement for 'New phoenix wings'", and two clean typescripts of "New phoenix wings" (4 files).

See also series 16, files 27-28 for further typescripts.

Series 11. Autumn landscape roll

Stewart wrote "Autumn landscape roll", a 5000 line epic poem on a quest for Nirvana by the Tang dynasty poet Wu Tao Tzu, over a twenty year period. The poem was completed, but not published, at the time of Stewart's death.

See also series 16, files 29-30 for further typescripts.

'Plot book for "Landscape roll"' containing manuscript explanations of the purpose and method of the poem, manuscript poetry, notes on Zen and Tao, scenes to be treated by the poem and other matters. (File 1)
Plot synopses, draft poems, Gustav Mahler concert material, Zen dialogues and research notes relating to Spring and Summer sequences. (File 2-12)
"Prologue": manuscript and typescript poems and notes (File 13)
"Hui NĂȘng: moonrise soliloquy" (File 14)
Drafts of "Chuang-tsu's dream" "The death of Chuang-tsu", "Fa Tsang's vision", "Chi-tsang's vision", miscellaneous poetry notes and an essay entitled "The medium of verse" (1947) by H. Stewart. (File 15)
"1. Notes on the Far East" containing research notes and material on "The death of Chuang-tzu" (File 16)
"2. Autumn landscape roll : descriptive" containing "An outline of Japanese Buddhist iconography" and 1987 lecture notes (File 17)
Working notebooks containing corrected typescripts of verse and prose, dating from the 1960s to 1980s. (File 18-32a)
Prose notes for "Autumn landscape roll" (File 33)
Corrected typescript of "Autumn landscape roll" (File 34)
Clean typescripts (File 35-36)

Series 12. Essays, 1951-c.1973

Rough notes and drafts of "Tradition and poetry". Also includes copies of published essays by Stewart, James McAuley, D.C. Muecke, a radio script for "Literary review" by Stewart broadcast on 3LO, 15 May 1951 and other typescripts. (File 1-2)
Notes for essays on Shin Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism, typescript of "English translations of Shin texts" and other papers, 1963-72 (File 3-4)
Miscellaneous notes for essays (File 5)
Working notebook entitled "First rough notes for prose essays" (File 6)
Working notebook "Prose essays in progress" (File 7)
Typescripts and published versions of articles on Japan published in Hemisphere (File 8-10)

Series 13. Other writings, 1933-59

See also series 15, folder 1 for other poems and translations by Stewart.

Notebook, 1933-36 containing manuscripts of early poems (File 1)
Quotes on poetry; an article "Harris harassed"; an account of a speech by Stewart published in The union recorder, Oct. 1938; an extract of a letter from Stewart to Harry Hooten, 9 Aug. 1942 published in Arna; typescript on speaking verse; 'General notes on "Orpheus" by Harold Stewart' article "The Cruickshank award" by James McAuley published in Prism, Mar. 1959 and "The medium of verse", by Stewart published in Workshop, 1947. (File 2)
"The myth of Prometheus" by Stewart published in Workshop, 1948; 'General notes on "Orpheus"'; corrected typescript of "Ode to Cybele" and notes on poetry, Asian philosophy and other matters. (File 3)
Notebook containing notes, prose impressions and "Index of subjects for use in Zen poems". (File 4)
Working notebook: "Rejected fragments and phrases of juvenilia" (File 5)
Folder containing verse published in the Fortian, Hermes and Arna, 1933-38 (File 6)
Manuscript and typescript drafts of material for "The triumph of night" (File 7)
Exercise book containing material for "The triptych of psyche" and notes and plot outlines for poetic projects (File 8)
Draft material for "Ode to Sarasvati" and "Ode to Sinurgh" (File 9-10)
Working notebook entitled "Aquarelles Japonaises: short poems on Japan" (File 11)
Working notebook "Poetic principles and practice" (File 12)
Notebook for "Miyajima: the deathless isle", material for Kangra miniatures and other papers (File 13)

Series 14. Council of Adult Education, 1954

Stewart lectured in art and poetry for the Victorian Council of Adult Education in the 1950s. The series contains slide notes and lecture transcripts on poetry and Asian art (1 folder)

Series 15. Other papers, 1979-93

"Instructions to literary editor" by Stewart, listing completed books for publication, and explaining the background to his literary papers. Also includes a typescript of "Uncollected poems and translations". (File 1)
"Bibliography of the works of Harold Stewart" and "A candle in the sunrise", an essay by Dorothy Green on By the old walls of Kyoto. (File 2)
Name card holder, including a postcard, 1993, photo and notes (File 3)
Notes and articles on Chinese painting, music and other subjects (File 4)
Copies of articles and newspaper cuttings (File 5)
Photographs (see also series 16, files 2 and 22) (File 6)
Printed material including pamphlets, programs and serials (File 7)
Miscellaneous papers (File 8-9)

Series 16. Papers from other sources, 1957-95

This series primarily contains originals and copies of letters of Harold Stewart which were donated to the Library by the recipients after Stewart's death. The letters complement the general correspondence in series 3. Also included are slides, typescripts and other papers.

The papers are listed by the name of the donor, roughly in the order in which they were received.

Peter Muller (Addition Oct. 1995) (File 1)

Five letters and one card from Stewart, 1992-94 and one unopened and returned letter from Muller to Stewart, 1995

Peter Muller (Addition Feb. 1996)Stewart letters, 1957-58 and typescript of 'The descent of Manjusri' (1959

Guy Stuart (Addition Oct. 1995) (File 2)

Stewart letter, 1986 and photograph of a drawing by Stuart of the view from Stewart's roof in Kyoto

Bishop Peter Hillebrand (Addition Nov. 1995) (File 2)

Cassette tapes of an interview Stewart recorded with Michael Tipping

no details on cassette [included with a photo of Stewart from Bishop Peter Hillebrand] (Item NLA.MS-SAV014329) - Cassette-Box 693

Note on MS folder 'Addition October 1995 and January 1996'



Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

no details on cassette [included with a photo of Stewart from Bishop Peter Hillebrand] (Item NLA.MS-SAV014330) - Cassette-Box 693

Note on MS folder 'Addition October 1995 and January 1996'



Physical Facet

Compact cassette tape

Bishop Peter Hillebrand (Addition Jan. 1996) (File 2)

Photograph of Stewart

Alan Palmer (Addition Nov. 1995) (File 3)

Copy of Stewart letter, 1994 and copies of inscriptions in three books by Stewart

Patricia Pound (Addition December 1995) (File 4)

Stewart letters, 1977-95

Don A. Proudfoot (Addition Dec. 1995) (File 5)

Stewart letters and postcards, 1983-95

Marta Fischer (Addition Mar. 1996) (File 5)

Two Stewart cards, 1992 and 1995

Gwynneth Smith (Addition Mar. 1996) (File 16-21)

Over 300 Stewart letters, 1966-95

Gwynneth Smith (Addition May 1996) (File 22)

23 slides of Harold Smith, his friends, possessions and surroundings in Kyoto taken on Smith's trips to Japan, 1973-83

Marie E. Hewitt (Addition Mar. 1996) (File 23-24)

Copies of Stewart letters, 1974-95

Professor Klaus Leowald (Addition Mar. 1996) (File 25)

Stewart letter and postcard, 1984

Professor Klaus Leowald (Addition June 1996) (File 25)

Typescripts of selected poems including 'Autumn nakedness' and 'The landscape from within' and other poems published in Phoenix wings (1948)

Professor Klaus Leowald (Addition July 1996) (File 25)

Article entitled "The Eighth Australian Employment Company" by Klaus Leowald, 1985

Geoffrey Goldie (Addition Mar. 1996) (File 26)

Copies of Stewart letters, 1966-72, 1995

Russell Beedles (Addition Apr. 1996) (File 26)

Copies of Stewart letters, 1971-78

Dr Ruth Niland (Addition Apr. 1996) (File 27-30)

Typescripts of 'New phoenix wings including a ts of 'The exiled immortal' (see also series 10); tss of 'Autumn landscape roll' (see also series 11) and 'Uncollected poems and translations' (duplicate at series 15, folder 1)

Vonnie C. Cowan (Addition May 1996) (File 31)

Stewart letters, 1975-84 including typescripts of the poems 'Nocturne', 'The immortal exile' and 'Morning on the Kamo bridge'

Milton Moon (Addition June 1996) (File 32)

Laser copy of Stewart's funeral service, Kyoto, and copies of two letters from Hisao Inagaki (Pure Land Buddhist scholar) to Moon, 1995 relating to Stewart's death

Milton Moon (Addition 23 March 1998) (File 32a)

Stewart letters 1980-94

David Miller (addition 2 Aug. 1996) (File 33)

Stewart letters, 1972 and biographical note

Peter Kelly (Addition 28 Jan. 1997) (File 34)

Stewart letters, 1970-95

Signed typescript manuscript of Stewarts 'Ode to the supernal, c.1956 (File 35)
Graham Fisher (Addition 19 December 1997) (File 36)

Letters to Graham Fisher, Tony Straker and Guilford Bell, 1983-94

Henry Horwege (Addition 15 June 1998) (File 37)

Stewart letters, 1969-91

John Paraskevopoulos (also known as Rev Joko Sama) (Addition 5 October 1999) (File 38)

Stewart letters, 1994-95

Peter Grime (Addition 14 December 1999) (File 39)

Stewart letters, 1993-95

Ian Hunt (Addition 3 March 2000) (File 40)

Correspondence with Ian Hunt and photographs, 1993-1995

Graham Fisher (Addition 17 April 2007) (File 41)

Aerogramme from Harold Stewart to Graham Fisher, 22 May 1983

Container List

Box Series File/s
1 1 1-2
1 2 1-6
2 7
2 3 1-7
3 8-15
4 16-23
5 24-31
6 32-36
7 41-46
7a 3 37-40,47
7a 16 32a
8 48-55
9 56-62
10 63-69
11 70-73
11 4 1-4
12 5-6
12 5 1-3
13 6 1-2
13 7a 1-2
13 7b 1
14 2-4
13 7c 1
14 8 1
14 9 1
15 2-5
16 6
16 10 1-4
17 11 1-14
18 15-21
19 22-28
20 29-34
21 35-36
21 12 1-4
22 5-10
23 13 1-8
24 9-13
25 14 1
25 15 1-6
26 7-9
26 16 1-4
27 5-12
28 13-19
29 20-27
30 28-37
7a 32a
31 37-41