Guide to the Papers of Bruce Dawe [MSS 232]

Finding Aid Index Request Information


Overview | Administrative Information | Container List

Each Finding Aid can be keyword searched using the Ctrl F function on your keyboard.

Manuscript Name Papers of Bruce Dawe
Manuscript Number MSS 232
Last Updated August 2021
Extent 89 cm (7 boxes)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract The collection includes correspondence, manuscript and typescript drafts, newspaper clippings, photographs and audio cassettes. The papers generally relate to Dawe's literary career during the period 1990-1994.

Scope and Content

The collection includes correspondence, manuscript and typescript drafts, newspaper clippings, photographs and audio cassettes. The correspondence primarily dates from the period 1990-1994, and reflects Dawe's valued contribution to the Australian literary community. The collection features drafts for many of Dawe's poems, particularly those written between 1990 and 1994. There are also papers relating to Dawe's prose writings, including drama scripts, book reviews, and lectures and addresses. There is a comprehensive scrapbook collection of newspaper cuttings documenting Dawe's literary career from 1988 to 1994.

Date Range of Content



The order of this collection has largely been imposed by Special Collections staff.

Biographical Note

Bruce (Donald) Dawe was born 15 February 1930 in Fitzroy, Victoria. Bruce Dawe's first poems were published under the pseudonym of Llewellyn Rhys while he was still at school. After leaving school at the age of sixteen, Dawe worked as a labourer, farmhand, clerk, gardener and postman. From 1959-1968 he served in the RAAF, completing his first degree and his first two volumes of poetry during this period.

He then taught English at Downlands College, Toowoomba, and in 1971 became a lecturer in Literature at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (later known as the University of Southern Queensland). In 1990, after completing his masters and doctoral degrees, Dawe was made an Associate Professor of the University of Southern Queensland, and appointed as the first Honorary Professor at the same institution in 1993.

A prolific poet, Dawe's work is often characterised by a light approach and the use of satire to explore frequently sombre themes such as the struggle of the individual to find meaning in everyday life, the domestic sphere, the effects of war, political oppression and corruption, and the importance of conservation. The Oxford companion to Australian literature praises his skilful use of 'speech cadences that combine the brashly colloquial of the spoken Australian language ... with subtle and deftly placed lyricism'.

Dawe's awards include:
Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Poetry, 1997: winner
FAW Christopher Brennan Award, 1983: winner
Patrick White Award, 1980: winner
Patricia Hackett Prize, 2003: joint winner for Evening on a country road
Patricia Hackett Prize, 2003: joint winner for Drayton Cemetery memory
National Book Council Award for Australian Literature, 1979: highly commended for Sometimes gladness : collected poems 1954-1978
Grace Leven Poetry Prize, 1978: winner for Sometimes gladness : collected poems 1954-1978
Dame Mary Gilmore Award, 1973: winner for Condolences of the season : selected poems
Sidney Myer Charity Trust Award for Poetry, 1968: winner for An eye for a tooth : poems
Myer Award for Australian Poetry, 1965: winner for A need of similar name.

Dawe's publications include No fixed address (1962), A need of similar name (1965), An eye for a tooth (1968), Beyond the subdivisions (1969), Heat wave (1970), Condolences of the season: selected poems (1971), Dimensions (ed. 1974), Just a dugong at twilight: mainly light verse (1975), Sometimes gladness: collected poems 1954-1978 (1978), Five modern comic writers (1981), Over here, Harv! (1983), Towards sunrise: poems 1979-1986 (1986), Speaking in parables (ed. 1987), This side of silence: poems 1987-1990 (1990), Mortal instruments: poems 1990-1995 (1995), Sometimes gladness: collected poems 1954-1997 (5th ed.) (1997), A poet's people (1999), Towards a war " twelve reflections (2003), The headlong traffic : poems and prose monologues 1997 to 2002 (2003), 'Hier und anderswo' / 'Here and elsewhere' : ausgewahlte gedichte / selected poems (2003) and Sometimes gladness " collected poems, 1954 to 2005 (2006).

AustLit : The Resource for Australian Literature, March 2007.

Administrative Information


This collection is available for research.

Restrictions on Use

No copying is permitted without the permission of the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Papers of Bruce Dawe, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, MSS 232, Series [Number], Folder [Number].


The collection was acquired by the Library from Bruce Dawe in several instalments from 1990-1997.

Related Material

Further material relating to Bruce Dawe is located in the papers of Philip Martin, at MS 309.

Separated Material

Further papers relating to Bruce Dawe are held by the Fryer Library, University of Queensland, at UQFL 111.

Access Terms

Personal Names

Dawe, Bruce, 1930- -- Archives.

Topical Subjects

Poets, Australian -- 20th century -- Archives.

Australian poetry -- 20th century.



Series List and Descriptions

Series 1 Correspondence, 1969-1995

The correspondence is arranged in chronological order from 1969 to 1995, although the bulk of the correspondence dates from the period 1990-1994. Much of the incoming correspondence features notations or brief comments by Dawe. The correspondence generally documents Dawe's literary activities, including correspondence with publishers, editors of literary journals and other poets. There are letters from community and educational institutions regarding workshops, visits and fundraising activities. There is also regular correspondence between Dawe and students or other writers discussing his and their own work. The letters from friends, students and admirers of Dawe's poems illustrate the high regard with which he is held by the community. The series includes a reader's report (7 p.) and additional comments (3 p.) regarding Mortal instruments (1995), together with several poems from other writers sent to Dawe for comment.

Correspondents include Philip Adams, Bruce Bennett, Jack Campbell, Kath Filmer, Ross Fitzgerald, Dennis Haskell, Des Houghton, Ken Inglis, Manfred Jurgensen, Thomas Keneally, Peter Kuch, Peter Maddox, Chris Masters, Ian Menkins, Laurie Muller, Les Murray, Philip Neilsen, Barrett Reid, Judith Rodriguez, Thomas Shapcott, Des Stephens, Anne Summers, Norman Talbot, John Tranter, Neville Wilson and Judith Wright.

Folder 1

Folder 2

Folder 3-4

Folder 5-6

Folder 7-8

Folder 9


Series 2 Poetry

This series contains manuscript and typescript drafts of poems by Dawe. Most of the poems have been published, and were generally written between 1990 and 1994, although many items are undated. There is no apparent order to the poems, but drafts of the same title have been filed together. Where a poem is untitled, the first line has been given in square brackets [].

Folder 1
Manuscript and typescript drafts of poems

Including 'Situation report'; 'Here and elsewhere'; [ 'An oracle you cannot' ]; [ 'Wealthy merchants leap from' ]; 'Surfeits'; 'Upon a recent academic appointment'; 'Ballad in a time of rising unemployment'; 'East Timor, Irian Jaya, etc'; [ 'They say that in Colorado' ]; [ 'They [teach] me to read and write at school' ]; 'Skycam'; 'What will Willy Loman do', also titled 'The teacher of literature considers retirement'; 'The beach'; 'In times like these'; 'Paradise taxis'; 'A thong at twilight'; 'On the day that the federal treasurer first yielded to the dreadful word recession'; 'One day wonders, or Channel flannel revisited'; 'In the forest'; 'Star light star bright: for Melissa on her 21st birthday'; [ 'Our minds and hearts' ]

Folder 2
Manuscript and typescript drafts of poems

Including 'Advice to a teenager on joining the work force in straitened economic times'; [ 'Bred for the vast machine' ]; 'Remembering my mother'; 'Flight cancelled'; [ 'On one of those winter nights when the moon' ]; 'On the 75th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli'; 'Anzacs'; 'School for women'; [ 'All these young children' ]; [ 'How often have I stumbled up backstairs' ]; [ 'After the fury and terror of the battlefield' ], published as 'Continuum'; [ 'And are not the clouds themselves' ]; 'Wimp'; 'Marginalia for a future text'; 'With Cassandra', published as 'The problem with Cassandra '; [ 'I'm a Mitsubishi Magna son-of-a gun' ], published as 'Aussie-Mandias'; 'Chaçun Son Goût', published as 'Bondi visions, or The rehabilitation of a deity'; 'Giant's arrows', also titled 'The little boys and the great leader'; 'Credibility gap'; 'Interregnum : October 2 1990', published as 'Mortal instruments: IV: Interregnum'; 'The execution', published as 'Mortal instruments: II: Tribunes'; 'The politics of indebtedness', published as 'Till debt do us part...'; 'When the blade descended'; 'A second Xerxes', published as 'War's end'; 'The dark room'; 'The hour of Faustus: January 15, 4.01 p.m.', published as 'The hour of Faustus: January 15, midnight'; 'Dear Drs Frankenstein'; 'On the Kuwaiti border'; 'Week One update'; 'Samarra'; 'Any day now'; 'Gulf War', early title 'To a pacifist'; 'On dictatorship'; 'To a dictator', published as 'Twilight of a God'; [ 'What we will get now' ], published as 'Screening the news'; 'The surgeon and the butcher'

Folder 3
Manuscript and typescript drafts of poems

'University anthem'; 'Liberation in Lhasa'; 'On the decision of the Public Prosecutor against the retrial of a politician accused of perjury, mainly on the grounds of the latter's advanced age'; 'Kirkuk'; 'To my moustache'1; 'Muscles'; 'Je m'accuse'; 'Mrs Cooney and Mr Brown'; 'The old men' 'Revelations revisited'1; 'Dicky Peel'; 'Rooming at 240 Cardigan Street, Carlton'; 'Burgess'; 'Old Harry'; 'Contrarieties'; 'A frequent phoenix: on the prevalence of academic egotism'; 'Incident in a South Melbourne timber-yard recollected in tranquillity'; 'After the game'; 'Palm Sunday'; 'Habits of imperfection', also titled 'Eating, writing'; 'Samarkand, 1917-1991: an allegory of the Soviet Union'; 'Acne'; 'Duet (Gorbachev and Yeltsin)'; 'Drought readings'; 'The dairy-maid'; 'Birth and place', published as 'Birth-place'; 'First rain'; 'What the ocean says'; 'A sense of commitment'; 'War's end'

Folder 4
Manuscript and typescript drafts of poems

'East Timor as seen from a southern continent, also titled Fretilin'; 'To her surprise'; 'Listen'; 'Sonnet in honour of the first chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland, Mrs Allison Dickson, OAM'; 'Da tranquila distancia'; Po'or John Kerin', published as 'Shooting the messenger (on the recent sacking of John Kerin as treasurer)'; 'Interviewing a poet'; 'Ballad of the ailing man (on the Hawke-Keating conflict)'; 'In praise of Gorbachev'; 'On Mr Keating's first press conference as Prime Minister-Elect'; 'Hospital', published as 'Ward M4'; 'For Rebecca'; 'Si monumentum requiris'; 'A ballad for Armistice Day'; 'Hercules considers the question of stable government in the state of Queensland', published as 'Hercules addresses the new Queensland Premier'; 'The state of government in Queensland seen as a winter landscape with assorted beasts'; 'Blind dates'; 'Bottle-shop'; 'Intimations of mortality'; 'Teaching'; [ 'God of the red rock wilderness' ]; 'Do not ask'; 'That sea (for Rebecca)'; 'Letter to the editor', regarding redesign of the Australian national flag, together with poem [ 'The Bar-code flag is black and white']; 'Political prisoner'; 'Gunner'; 'Terms of reference'; 'Stripes and colours (after Cesar Vallejo)'; 'Training programme'; 'You and Sarajevo (for Gloria)'; 'On a major real-estate...'; 'Packaging a president', also titled 'Packaging for a contemporary presidency'; 'Before and after'; [ 'Augustine said that the present of things past' ]; 'The view from Black Dog Creek', published as 'Open university: the view from Black Dog Creek'; 'The gospel according to St Oz the improbable'; 'Deregulation'; 'Billy Ray Cyrus - live in concert'

Folder 5
Manuscript and typescript drafts of poems

'Reading poetry in public: two metaphors'; 'What's in a decade'; 'White-out'; 'Zip-code'; 'Paul pries loose an awful secret'; 'Romancing the stoned'; 'The new race vilification law'; 'A feral tale'; 'Final solutions'; 'For Barry and family in memory of Marie'; 'A virus'; 'Publishers' breakfast'; 'Dear John...'; 'How come', published as 'Intersection'; 'Mug lairs'; 'Afterwards'; 'My love is yours, your love is mine'; 'The distance a funeral director speaks'; 'Refugees'; 'Final solutions'; 'Jolly Reeboks'; 'We're Coca-Cola colonists'; [ 'My Mabo he's over the ocean' ]; 'I heard the sound of voices'; 'Recruit drive '; 'A naval view: after Ogden Nash'; 'Dr Frankenstein tries again'; 'Reading poetry in public: two metaphors'; 'An optimist at twilight'; 'Arch'

Folder 6
Manuscript and typescript drafts of poems

'The sun'; 'Food queue'; 'Gunner'; 'Apec'; 'A word of comfort to the wayfarer'; 'The river'; 'Ethnics', also titled 'How I became an ethnic and began my life all over again'; 'Clancy McCarthy Vladimir Jones', early title 'Playing the race-card'; 'Song for the coming republic'; 'Prisoners of conscience can always choose'; 'The Grund-Mann hypothesis'; 'In the vestibule', published as 'In the vestibule: per me si va tra la perduta gente (Dante, the Inferno)'; 'By Burley Griffin's bright and shining waters'; 'Definitions'; 'The flag of the future'; 'A prisoner of the agenda'; 'On a recent re-write of a traditional hymn'; 'The rain'; 'Zoological update'; 'Swap meet'; [ 'Over the drought brown land' ]; [ 'Travelling by bus' ]; [ 'Voltaire, you should be living at this hour' ]; [ 'Where once a royal presence shone' ]; [ 'The mortal works of mortal man' ]; [ 'Time, like a hot kitchen bakery' ]; [ 'Returning from the netherworld there still' ]; [ 'But the rock of ages in their sight' ]; 'The ultimate video'; 'A Keating quinella' poetry sequence (also 'A Canberra quinella' ) including 'Bankstown boy makes good', 'A sorry saga', or 'Mr Keating and the "oops!" factor', 'Loyalty', [ 'Sports rorts future...advice to a Sports Minister' ], 'A Canberra Christmas hymn'; 'El Presidente speaks'; 'For Scrappy, 1980-1995'; 'Champions in the house'; [ 'For days I watched you studying stiffly under the willow' ]; [ 'There was a storm coming up out of the east' ]; [ 'It's evening in the garden' ]; [ 'Where I am now I am not permitted to say' ]; 'Circus Minimus (notes from the north)'


Series 3 Prose

This series contains manuscript and typescript drafts of prose writings by Dawe, including drama scripts, essays on current affairs and topics of interest, drafts for The Chronicle television review column 'Boxing on', book reviews, and lectures and addresses given by Dawe for special events and workshops.

Folder 1
Manuscript drafts of drama scripts by Dawe, including 'Dumping nanna', 'The forever tree', 'A virus', 'Hiding' and 'Woz'

Folder 2
'Monologarhythms: the speaker and the spoken' typescript photocopy draft, from an Australian National Library lecture, 26 November 1993

Folder 3-5
'Boxing on' draft notebooks (2), 27 February 1993-August 1993; draft notebook, 1993-1994; manuscript and typescript drafts, 1993

Folder 6
Manuscript drafts of various essays and criticisms by Dawe

Including 'Against the tide'; 'Introduction to questions of choice: mss in preparation 1990-91'; 'Habits of imperfection'; untitled incomplete essay on the Gulf war; untitled essay on Soviet coup against Gorbachev; 'Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word' editorial; 'Faithful fictions: the Catholic novel in British literature'; untitled essay on State of Origin football

Folder 7
Miscellaneous prose

Including 'The writer and the community', the third Concannon College oration, manuscript and typescript drafts, October 1990; program for Towoomba Concert Orchestra held at UCSQ Concert Hall on 6 October 1990, featuring 'The Concannon anthem' by Dawe; 'Turn again home' music sheet photocopy by [?]

Folder 8
Miscellaneous prose

Including photocopies of reviews by [?] of Ross Fitzgerald's Busy in the fog (1990); typescript draft of UCSQ Graduation Ball address, 27 April 1991; manuscript draft of introduction by Dawe for Phillip Brown's Plastic parables: selected poems (1991); 'Rollerskating in the supermarket' manuscript draft address given at the Rollerskating with Language Conference, 31 July 1991; Tributary streams, some sources of social and political concerns in modern Australian poetry by Dawe (1992) (The John Murtagh Macrossan lecture, 1991); manuscript draft address for St. Vincent De Paul Society Conference, 14 March 1992; manuscript and typescript drafts of preface for Australian satirical verse: the sting in the wattle (1993), edited by Philip Neilsen; 'Coin of the realm' typescript address to University of the Third Age students, 29 May 1993; 'On the occasion of Father Keegan's 40 years in the priesthood' typescript address

Folder 9
Miscellaneous prose

Including 'Introduction to Tom Keneally' manuscript and typescript drafts, Mary Ryan Bookshop Literary Dinner, Lord's Restaurant, Toowoomba, 10 November 1993; manuscript draft introduction for Our territory (1997) by Ludwika Amber; manuscript draft judging commentary for the Bronze Swagman Award; manuscript drafts of review of Anna Oakley's honour (c. 1993) by Donal O'Sullivan; 'Teaching poetry: the fearful art?' lecture notes; 'Toast to the priests' manuscript draft, written for the 75th anniversary of Holy Name Parish; 'Interview with Seamus Heaney' manuscript and typescript drafts, for 'In conversation' session at Warana Writers' Week, with covering letter to Ken Gordon and related letters to Seamus Heaney; manuscript comment re St Valentine's Day poetry competition; manuscript draft reference for Michael Croves; 'Come live with me' typescript photocopy article by Ruth Milner-Neill


Series 4 Scrapbooks, 1980-1994

This series contains scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings. The cuttings primarily concern Dawe's literary career, including articles regarding him and his work. There are also cuttings of Dawe's letters to editors of various newspapers and other items of interest.

Folder 1
Scrapbook, 1988-1990

Folder 2
Scrapbook, 1989-1990

Folder 3
Scrapbook, January-September 1991

Folder 4
Scrapbook, September 1991-November 1992

Folder 5
Scrapbook, November 1992-May 1993

Folder 6
Scrapbook, May 1993-January 1994

Folder 7
Newspaper clippings, 1980-1994, and miscellaneous papers

Including a pamphlet advertising 'The poet, the poem: a series of photographic imagery, focussing on the poet, Bruce Dawe' an exhibition by Rosemary Mills, and a photocopy of Dawe's Paul Harris Fellow award from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International


Series 5 Miscellaneous Papers, 1988-1994

This small series contains administrative papers primarily relating to Dawe's work as a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland.

Folder 1
Miscellaneous papers, 1988-1994

Including manuscript and typescript drafts of examiner's report on Joan Murray's MA thesis 'Aspects of connectedness and difference in E. M. Forster's novels'; typescript report regarding the 1988 Senior Secondary Poetry Prize, together with 2 student entries for the 1989 Senior Secondary Poetry Prize

Folder 2
'ACRE 1991' poster


Series 6 Photographs, 1992

This small series comprises photographs collected by Dawe.

Folder 1
Photographs (2) of Bruce Dawe
Photograph of Bruce Dawe with Jay [?], American Elder Hostel Member, November-December 1992
Photograph of Bruce Dawe with Jean Freeman and Kathleen Arnold, American Elder Hostel Member, November-December 1992
Photograph of dingoes and domestic dogs
Photograph of fossilised dinosaur print, Broome
Photograph of 'Celebrating the commonplace' Bruce Dawe manuscript collection


Series 7 Audio Cassettes, 1997

This small series contains an audio cassette recording of a lecture by Dawe, 1997.

Folder 1
Lecture given by Bruce Dawe to a group of students of Trinity Grammar School, Summer Hill, NSW, 4 September 1997