Guide to the Papers of Barbara Ker Wilson [MSS 087]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Barbara Ker Wilson
Manuscript Number MSS 087
Last Updated June 2021
Extent 1 box + 1 AV box
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Manuscripts, typescripts, correspondence and photographs

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content 

This collection comprises papers of Barbara Ker Wilson, including manuscripts and typescripts (Jane Austen in Australia, The Quade Inheritance, Acacia Terrace), correspondence and photographs.  There are three folders of material relating to Ker Willson's revision of Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s ‘Hoppity’s House’ and photographs of paintings by David Fielding used to illustrate Ker Wilson's picture book Acacia Terrace.

Date Range of Content 


Biographical Note 

As a child, Barbara Ker Wilson used to accompany her father to a large publishing office in London, to deliver the corrected proofs of his latest engineering textbook, and she knew then that she wanted to work in the world of writing and publishing. Her first 'successful' work, written when she was eight, was a play based on the coronation of King George VI, performed at her primary school in England. Throughout her childhood, she wrote poetry, short stories and unfinished 'novels' and was later educated at North London Collegiate School, England. The Second World War influenced Ker Wilson greatly, particularly the experience of living through air raids in London. With the end of the war she had her first experience of travelling abroad and subsequently travelled extensively in Europe and Asia.

As a writer, her primary interest was to tell a story, repeatedly returning to the refreshing vigour of the world's original stories - folktales - that she regarded as the springboard for all fiction. As an editor, she worked mainly with books for young readers, including Bodley Head, for whom she edited C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle (1956). Ker Wilson wrote several books for children before moving to Australia and continued her publishing career with Angus & Robertson, Hodder & Stoughton, Readers Digest and University of Queensland Press. While she was with Angus & Robertson she instigated the Australian exhibitions at the Bologna Book Fair, and also lectured on writing for children at schools and libraries throughout Australia. Ker Wilson was married to Peter Tahourdin, a composer, with whom she had two daughters. 

In addition to works individually indexed on AustLit, Barbara Ker Wilson is authored a biography of English children's writer Noel Streatfeild (London: Bodley Head, 1961), before she arrived in Australia.

Reference: Austlit -


Administrative Information 

Access and Copying Conditions

Access: Open Access

This collection contains a variety of copyright material. Copyright is held by the creator of each item. Specific conditions for this collection are listed below. If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items. Digitised material from manuscript collections is provided to clients by UNSW Canberra in good faith for private study and research only, and may not be published or re-purposed without the express and written permission of the individual legal holder of that copyright. Refer also to the UNSW copyright, disclaimer and takedown policy. 

Copying: Copying of material for private study and research is approved

Preferred Citation

Papers of Barbara Ker Wilson, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 087, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


The collection was acquired in 1990


Subject Keywords 


Women writers - Australia - Archives

Children's literature, Australian - 20th century

Personal Names

Barbara Ker Wilson, 1929-2020

David Fielding, 1944-

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, 1888-1960




Container List 

Box 1 

Typescripts, manuscripts, correspondence

Folder 1 

Annotated typescript of Jane Austen in Australia, with related correspondence (1981-1985)

Folder 2

Annotated typescript of The Quade Inheritance, with related correspondence (1987-1988)

Folder 3

Photocopy of handwritten version of ‘Hoppity’s House’ by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Annotated typescript of ‘Hoppity’s House’, as revised and rewritten by Barbara Ker Wilson

Related correspondence (1987-1988)

Folder 4

Typewritten annotated copy of Acacia Terrace

Related correspondence (1986-1988)

Typewritten notes about Acacia Terrace plus photocopies of the photographs of the illustrations for the book

Two copies of The Adelaide Review (November 1986, February 1987) with cover designs by David Fielding


Audiovisual Material


5 photographs of David Fielding and Barbara Ker Wilson

19 photographs of paintings by David Fielding used to illustrate Aston Scholastic Acacia Terrace picture book, published 1988