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  • Title
    Helen H. Wilson further papers, 1902-1990, and associated papers of Warwick Mayne-Wilson, 1991-1996
  • Creator
  • Call number
    MLMSS 8068
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    1.58 metres of textual material, 2 photograph albums and 1 medal (10 boxes), some boxes contain photographs

    Helen Helga Wilson (1902-1991), author and poet, was born in Zeehan, Tasmania, to William Constantine Mayne, mining engineer, and his wife, Florence, nee Miller. Her family left for Western Australia in 1905. She was educated at Methodist Ladies’ College, Claremont, and won a scholarship to Perth Modern School. Her father was killed in France while serving with No. 6 Tunneling Coy., 1st AIF in 1917. Helen graduated Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia in 1922, one of the first women graduates and the first to win a Blue in hockey. She married, in 1926, a chartered accountant, Edward Lionel Wilson; they had three children, Edward Peter, Margaret Helen and Warwick Mayne. Helen and Edward lived in Manly, NSW, from 1972, where she was patron of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Manly Peninsula Regional Branch), 1981-1990. She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her services to Australian literature in 1980.

    Helen H. Wilson wrote in various genres, although she was better known as a short story writer. Many of her stories have been anthologised, published in more than ten countries, some in translation. Her acclaimed story, ‘The Skedule’, first published in 1956, was included in her two collections, A Show of Colours (1970) and The Skedule and Other Australian Short Stories (1979). A film option on this story was taken up by British playwright, Ted Willis, in 1962, and the film rights later bought by J. Arthur Rank. Among her novels are Where the Wind’s Feet Shine (1960) and Bring Back the Hour (1977) which deal with pioneering and other hardships in the north-west of Western Australia. Her last novel, The House at Hardie’s Corner (1984) relates the history of her mother’s family at Glenelg, near Adelaide, in the first decade of the twentieth century. Two autobiographical novels, The Golden Age (1960) and The Mulga Trees (1980), deal with her childhood in the goldfields and her experience of coping with poverty following the loss of her father in World War I. Her collection of poems Songs of Empire [1941] is dedicated to him.

    Compiled from the collection
    Library correspondence file
  • Scope and Content
    This collection ranges from Helen H. Wilson's school days' verse and short stories through to her mature published work, including novels. It includes literary manuscripts, correspondence and family photographs.

    This collection is described by the following box listing, originally compiled when the papers were received by the Library in 1992 and amplified in 2011.

    BOX 1
    1. Bibliographical and biographical information about Helen H. Wilson

    2. Correspondence with other writers, 1962-1985, including Clem Christesen, 1982, 1985; Tom Hungerford, 1962; Tom Keneally, 1983; Leonie Kramer, 1982; Olga Masters, no date; Bill Peach, 1985; and Olaf Ruhen 1985

    3. Notes for and incomplete drafts of Cyclone Coast

    4. Exercise book of notes for ‘The Bride Ship’

    5. Articles and short stories

    6. ‘Manuscripts for articles’, 1920, 197- - 1983, including articles written about Gallipoli and Anzac Day

    7. ‘If Today Be Sweet / Early Chapters’, being carbon typescripts

    8. ‘Early draft (part of) House at Hardy’s Corner’

    9. Incomplete typescript draft of ‘The Bride Ship’

    10. Articles and poems

    BOX 2
    1. Scrapbook of newscuttings, 1951- , mainly of personal mentions and relating to the Wilson family, and including letter received from Andrea Lofthouse, compiler of Who’s Who of Australian Women, 17 June 1982, with enclosed proof entry on Wilson

    2. ‘Indian Ocean Islands’, 1964-1973, being papers relating to the novel Island of Fire by Helen Mayne, including incomplete drafts and research material

    3. ‘Letters from China’, 1980-1984, being mainly letters received from Gladys Yang (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing)

    4. ‘U.S.S.R.’, being letter received from Russian translator, Irene [Irina Golovnya], 18 Mar. 1979; photograph of Wilson and Golovnya ?; and typescript drafts of ‘Russia’s Internal Triangle – Tashkent, Bukara, Samarkand’ by Wilson, including photographs

    5. Typescript articles on China, Mauritius, Reunion Island and Sri Lanka

    6. Cuttings of short story, ‘Coal Dust’ by Wilson, in The Broadcaster, 1950

    7. ‘Early Works’, 1930-1977, being mainly newscuttings of articles and stories, and processed typescript of short story ‘Fimisters’ Find’ for the Australian Broadcasting Commission`

    8. ‘Articles’, 1933-1983, being mainly cuttings of articles published in newspapers and magazines, and correspondence with Dawn Lawrie (MLA for Nightcliff, N.T.), 1982

    9. ‘The Mulga Trees’, being cuttings of The Mulga Trees serialised in The Sun (Melb.), 1981

    10. The House at Hardie’s Corner, being edited photocopy of typescript

    BOX 3
    1. ‘Book Reviews’ by Helen Wilson, 1977-1983, being newscuttings

    2. Papers relating her role as a judge in literary competitions hosted by the Fellowship of Australian Writers, 1980-1982, and International PEN Australia, 1981; and to her membership of the Australian Society of Authors, 1979, 1984, and the Society of Women Writers, 1972-1985

    3. ‘Promotional Letters’, 1979-1983, including correspondence, being mainly letters received, with Herb Elliott, 1981; Sir Charles Court, 1980-1983; and R. A. Hamilton (Director, Office of the North West, Government of Western Australia), 1980-1983

    4. ‘Poems’, 1943-ca. 1985

    5. ‘O.A.M.’, ca. 1940-ca. 1988, including congratulatory letters received on being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, 1980, and medal; and on her diamond wedding anniversary, 1987; and newscuttings and photographs of Wilson and her family

    6. Reviews of Wilson’s books and stories, including newscuttings of personal mentions, 1964-1985, and letter received from Olaf Ruhen, 25 July 1971

    7. Correspondence with literary agent, Paul Bryden, 1982-1985

    8. ‘Correspondence with publishers’, 1958-1989, including lists of Wilson’s publications

    9. ‘Fan Mail / Letters re Work etc.’, including letters received from Marjorie Clarke, 1958; Yasmine Gooneratne, 1981; O. S. Green, 1979; Alexandra Hasluck, 1970-1972; Peter Hastings, 197-?; M. D. Kirby, 1982; Dorothy Sanders (Lucy Walker), 1973; Jocelynne A. Scutt, 1981; Kenneth Slessor (President, The Journalists’ Club, Syd.), 1958; Malcolm J. L. Uren, 1950-1962; Warwick Wilson, 1980

    10. Papers mainly relating to the film script of Last Bus to Banjo Creek (adapted from the short story ‘The Skedule’), including carbon typescript of the screenplay by Ted Willis, revised June 1966; correspondence with, and photographs of, Ted Willis, 1962-1983; and newscuttings, 1962-1976

    11. Papers relating to the film rights of The Scholarship, 1984-1985, including correspondence with John Robinson (Visionwest) and Gwenda Jarred (Angus and Robertson)

    BOX 4
    1. Scrapbook, ca. 1919-ca. 1980, mainly of newscuttings of personal mentions and writings

    2. Newscuttings of interviews and publicity, 1933-1985

    3. ‘Short Stories’, being typescript and photocopied typescript stories and articles

    4. ‘Australian Short Stories from Home & Abroad’, being mainly typescript and photocopied typescript

    5. ‘The Bride Ship’, being typescript of selected chapters

    BOX 5
    1. Photocopied typescript of The Scholarship (1985), a screenplay by John Robinson and annotated by Wilson

    2. Photographs of Mayne family, including Helen, elder sister Isobel, mother Florence and father William Charles, taken in Zeehan, Tasmania, 1902, and of Edward Lionel Wilson as a young man, ca. 1910

    3. Synopsis of If Today Be Sweet (Tentative), being photocopied typescript

    4. Research material on Camden Harbour settlement in Western Australia in 1860s

    5. Typescript notes on Wyndham, W.A.

    6. ‘Favourite Verses’, being mainly typescript copies of poems by Wilson and others

    7A. Photograph album of the Mayne and Wilson families, 1924-1927, mainly relating to Western Australia

    7B. Photograph album of the Mayne family, 1922-1926, relating to South Australia and Western Australia

    8. Notebook containing working notes for ‘The Bride Ship’

    9. Invitations and letters received from, among others, Alexandra Hasluck, 1916-1983, and Wilson family photographs

    10. Printed material, being copy of Silver Years in the Golden West 1924-1949 (Country Women’s Association, W.A., 1949), and issues of The Sphinx (Perth Modern School), 1916-1921; The Black Swan: The Organ of the Guild of Undergraduates of the University of Western Australia, vol. 4 no. 2, Aug. 1920 and vol. 5 no. 2, Sept. 1921; Foreign Literatures (Beijing Institute of Foreign Languages), no. 5, 1984 (Special issue for Contemporary Australian Literature); magazine of the Fellowship of Australian Writers – Manly Peninsula Regional Branch, Second Year, 1977; Third Year, 1978; Sixth Year, 1981; Seventh Year, 1982

    BOX 6
    1. Letters received from authors, Nettie Palmer, 1959; Hal Porter, 1962; and Katharine Susannah Prichard, 1957

    2. Correspondence with Angus & Robertson, 1965-1984, formerly in yellow plastic folder

    3. Correspondence regarding publishing, 1976-1980, formerly in black 2-post binder, with, among others, Australia Council, Geoffrey Blainey, Sir Charles Court, Macmillan Company of Australia, National Book Council, Joan Priest and Eleanor Witcombe

    4. Correspondence with Rigby Pty. Ltd., formerly in black lever arch 2-ring binder

    BOX 7
    1. ‘Personal & Certificates’, 1909-1926, 1978, including certificates and testimonials received by W. C. Mayne and Helen H. Wilson

    2. Notebooks (2), including notes on travel to Asian cities, 1957

    3. Articles by Wilson, being mainly typescript

    4. Papers relating to Ted Willis, 1962-1971, including letters received from Willis; newscuttings and photographs (2), including one of Wilson with Lord Willis and Lady Willis at Chislehurst, July 1966

    5. Carbon typescript of Report on the 17th Session of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East held at New Delhi, India, 9-20 Mar. 1961, delivered by H. H. Wilson

    6. Printed material, including Methodist Ladies’ College (Claremont, W.A.) prospectus, ca. 1908; issue of Westerly, no. 2 1958; poem: Verdict (To a Departed Brother); Writers Notes from the Radio Drama and Features Department of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, 15 June 1976; The Australian Author, vol. 12 no. 2, Autumn Issue, Apr. 1980, featuring ‘The Role of the Critic’ by Helen Wilson

    7A. Exercise book of Helen H. Mayne titled ‘Salisbury Gold Mine Cue [W.A.] / Battery Log Book, 1914-1919, with draft letters in pencil by her father, W. C. Mayne, 1914

    7B. School exercise book of Helen H. Mayne, 1916, including essays and poems

    7C. Exercise book titled ‘Miller’s Corner’ by Helen H. Mayne, including later household and literary notes by Helen H. Wilson

    8. Address books (2)

    9. Christmas card from E. L & H. H. Wilson, 6 Waratah Avenue, Dalkeith, W.A., including colour photograph of Helen H. Wilson next to white Jaguar Mk2

    BOX 8
    1. ‘Romance’, being typescript of If Today Be Sweet

    2. ‘Children’s Book’, being photocopied typescript of Choopa - The Middle One

    3. Typescript of a selection of stories for Australian Short Stories - From Home and Abroad

    4. Letter received from Isobel Baker, 2 Aug. 1986, regarding enclosed genealogical research on her great grandfather, David Miller, and his descendants

    5. Photocopies of option agreement between Helen Wilson and John Robinson (film producer) for literary work The Scholarship, 1985

    6. Red album, 1960-1985, being mainly of newscuttings of personal mentions and reviews of Wilson’s books, and proofsheet of photographs of her

    7. Foolscap-sized notebook with research notes, including synopsis of ‘The Bride Ship’

    8. Papers relating to Fellowship of Australian Writers NSW, 1990

    9. Papers of Warwick Mayne-Wilson, being copies of obituaries of Helen H. Wilson, newscutting and record of memorial gathering in her memory, Uniting Church Hall, Manly, N.S.W., 14 Feb. 1991

    10. Papers of Warwick Mayne-Wilson, 1994-1996, being correspondence with Fellowship of Australian Writers (Manly Peninsula Regional Branch) relating to funding of the Helen Wilson Encouragement Award

    BOX 9
    1. Typescript of ‘Bride Ship to the Forgotten Sea’

    2. Typescript of Spinnifex Calling, ca. 1960 by ‘Tex Trefonne’ (alias for H. H. Wilson)

    3. Typescript of ‘No Glimpse of Eden’ by Mira Laski (H. H. Wilson)

    4. Typescript of ‘Pacing the Dawn’ (with photographs), relating to travels in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, India, Egypt, Greece, Istanbul, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, England United States, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand

    5. The Voyage of the Africaine (1968) compiled by Penelope Hope

    6. Songs of Empire and Other Poems [1941] by H. H. Wilson

    7. Summer’s Tales 2 (1965), edited by Kylie Tennant, including ‘The Line’ by H. H. Wilson

    8. A Show of Colours : A Selection of Prize-Winning Stories (1970) by H. H. Wilson

    9. Roundabout Geraldton and the Victoria District (1978) by E. M. Halley and H. H. Wilson, being copy of book enclosed in letter received from E. M. Halley, 7 Nov. 1979

    10. The Muse of Manly : Special Commemorative Edition, 1975-1985, edited by Ruth Drobnak

    BOX 10
    Photographs of bridal party at the wedding group of Helen H. Wilson’s elder sister Isobel, Perth, W.A., 1921; Helen H. Wilson, 1949; and ‘Presentation of Prize Winning Awards – Sydney Journalists Short Story Competition 1958’: Mrs H. H. Wilson, Mr Hal Porter, Mrs Marian Dreyer, Mr Kenneth Slessor (President), Lord Mayor Alderman Harry Jensen
  • Source
    Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Warwick Mayne-Wilson in 1992, and additional papers presented in September 2002
  • Access Conditions

    This material is held offsite and is usually available after 4pm on the next business day. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • Copying Conditions
    Copyright status:: In copyright
    Research & study copies allowed: Applies only to material in which Helen H. Wilson owns copyright
    Approval for reproduction required: From Warwick Mayne-Wilson prior to publication
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