Guide to the Papers of Margaret Diesendorf [MSS 228]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Margaret Diesendorf
Manuscript Number MSS 228
Last Updated June 2022
Extent 11 boxes + 2 oversize + 2 AV boxes
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Original manuscripts, correspondence, poetry drafts and biographical papers relating to Margaret Diesendorf and her literary circle, together with a late 16th century ancestral land tenure manuscript on parchment with wax seal

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content

This collection comprises the personal papers of linguist and poet Margaret Diesendorf, covering aspects of her life and career in Austria and Australia, editorship of Poetry Australia, and the many literary connections she maintained with poets nationally and internationally.  Highlights include the sequences of correspondence relating to prominent figures such as Howard Sergeant (publisher of Britain's oldest independent poetry magazine Outposts) and Robert Graves (the celebrated British classicist and writer).  Also featuring are folders of correspondence with noted Australian poets such as AD Hope, Judith Wright, Gwenn Harwood and Rosemary DobsonOf special interest is a late 16th century ancestral land tenure manuscript, handwritten in ink on parchment with a wax seal, signed by the historic Swedish sovereigns of Poland

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note

Wikipedia article

Margaret Diesendorf née Máté (1912–1993), was an Australian linguist, poet, editor, translator and educationist. Born in Vienna, Austria, Diesendorf migrated to Australia in 1939. She published two books of poetry, made numerous translations of other people's works, and with Grace Perry, edited Poetry Australia

Judith Beveridge, 'Diesendorf, Margaret (1912–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2020, accessed online 15 April 2020

AustLit, Margaret Diesendorf (, St Lucia: The University of Queensland, 2002- , accessed online 15 April 2020


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 If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items.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 Margaret Diesendorf, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 228, Box [Number], Folder [Number]


The collection was acquired from Margaret Diesendorf in two consignments in 1991


Additional Information

Related Material

Further material relating to Margaret Diesendorf (including extensive correspondence) is located in the papers of Rudi Krausman (MSS 094), Vivian Smith (MSS 041) and in the records of Poetry Australia (MSS 015) and The Oxford companion to Australian literature (MSS 011)

Separated Material

This collection originally included a number of publications, listed below. These works have been catalogued separately and added to the UNSW Canberra Academy Library collection.

Agence de L’Union Protestante Liberale. Le Nouveau Testament. Paris, 1862 (no longer held in Library)

Amanuddin, Syed. Gems & germs, with English, French and Urdu translation by Peter Ford and Mukhtar A. Chaudhry. Sumter, South Carolina: Poetry Eastwest Publications, [1978]

Amanuddin, Syed. The age of female eunuchs.  Sumter, South Carolina: Poetry Eastwest, c1974

Baylebridge, William. Love redeemed. Popular edition. Sydney, NSW: Tallabila Press, 1934

Cumpston, Amy. Human, my race.  Bexley, [NSW]: Pacific Press, 1955

Haley, Martin. Lucretia and the banks of Anio: an anthology of Italian poems in English

Brisbane : Printed by V.E. Martin, 1965

Haley, Martin. Trophies: taken mostly from the French of Jose Maria de Heredia. Brisbane: [s.n.], 1972

Hiener, Wilhelm. South Africa: a cycle of thirty poems. Newnham, Tasmania: The Wattle Grove Press, 1966

Klein, Johannes. Geschichte der deutschen Novelle: von Goethe bis zur Gegenwart. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1954

Laurent, Jacques. Mauriac sous de Gaulle. [Paris]: La table ronde, c1964

Lyrisches Holland . Lyrical poetry = La Hollande lyrique.  Amsterdam: Arbeiderspers, 1954

Perry, Grace. I am the songs you sing and other poems. Sydney: Consolidated Press, 1944

Présentation-Société royale du Canada, No [1], 1943-1944. Ottawa: Société royale du Canada, 1944

Scott. L.E. Nothing but a man.  Wellington, NZ: Voice Press, 1981     

‘Two cities’, La revue bilingue de Paris, 1964 (no longer held in Library)


Subject Keywords


Margaret Diesendorf 1912-1993 – Archives

Robert Graves 1895-1985 – Correspondence 

Herbert (Howard) Sergeant 1914–1987 – Correspondence

Australian poetry – 20th century

Personal Names

Margaret Diesendorf 1912-1993

Rosemary Dobson 1920-2012

Robert Graves 1895-1985

Gwen Harwood 1920-1995

Alec Derwent Hope 1907-2000

Herbert (Howard) Sergeant 1914-1987

Corporate Names

Poetry Australia








Container List

Box 1

Folder 1

Ancestral manuscripts of feudal tenure with Royal seals, concerning house, lands and people, signed by the historic sovereigns of Poland (Swedish House) – original documents in contemporary hands on parchment with wax seal and ribbon, dated 1583 and 1636, with 1867 amendment stamped ‘Instanz Gericht Goldingenschen’=Instance Court of Goldingen? Add digitised content to Cloudstor & insert link; make note to check originals for more exact details when time available in future

Folder 2

Correspondence from various poets regarding Diesendorf’s anthology Light, c1981

Folder 3-4

Correspondence with Syed Amanuddin, Sumter, South Carolina (editor of  Poetry Eastwest and Creative moment) – Diesendorf was Associate Editor of Creative moment for the Pacific region

Folder 5

Correspondence with Australian scholar, literary critic and poet RG (Robert Guy) Howarth

View Clubs of Australia Poetry Competition 1974 – judge’s comments and correspondence with competitors

Transcripts and  English translations of taped interviews with leading French writers for ABC Radio program Today’s Writing, 1965-1966, some transcribed on airmail paper when Diesendorf continued the work from Paris, London and Vienna

Folder 6

Correspondence (14 letters) with British poet and classicist Robert Graves, 1968-1973 and three poems

Correspondence with Australian poet AD Hope

Box 2

Folder 7

Correspondence with Australian poet Gwen Harwood, 1971-1987

Folder 8

Correspondence with AD Hope

’Faust’ – original complete draft, Part 2, last scene, handwritten about 1933

Correspondence from Swiss primary school children taught by Diesendorf in 1939 (in Swiss-German)

Folder 9

Paper written for Department of French, University of Vienna (in French), c1936 (66 pp)

Folder 10

Correspondence regarding The electrical imagination compiled by Dr Brian Coleman, with whom Diesendorf collaborated by letter

Coleman, Brian (compiler). The electrical Imagination: electricity in literature and music. Vancouver: B. Coleman, 1975

Folder 11

New poetry from Australia, edited by Diesendorf and Syed Amanuddin – drafts submitted to Diesendorf by six Australian poets and associated correspondence

New poetry from Australia, edited by Diesendorf and Syed Amanuddin – draft introduction

Folder 12

Correspondence with Earle Birney (1904-1995), distinguished Canadian poet and novelist

Folder 13-14

Correspondence with Edwin Tanner (1920-1980), Australian artist and his son Edwin after his father’s death

Box 3

Folder 15

Correspondence with Edwin Tanner (1920-1980), Australian artist and his son Edwin after his father’s death

Folder 16

Newspaper cuttings from correspondence by Diesendorf published in the Sydney Morning Herald

Folder 17

Education and literature manuscripts and related correspondence

South Head Press editorial correspondence

Folder 18

Poetry Australia correspondence

Folder 19

Correspondence regarding Rosemary Dobson’s L’Enfant Au Cacatoès (Child with a Cockatoo). Paris, 1967

Folder 20

Correspondence with La recherche (Paris)

VIEW Clubs of Australia – correspondence with Diesendorf as judge of poetry competition

Four carbon copies of manuscript

Folder 21

Press clippings

Folder 22

‘Le silences’ by John Millett – draft, c1973

Box 4

Folder 23

Notes on translation

Publicity for Australian poetry in Germany

French paper – draft, 1944

Newspapers cuttings - correspondence to newspapers and publicity on literary activities

Diaries, including birth of first child, European journey, 1960

Folder 24

Book of foreign language poetry

Press clippings

’Translation’ talk – draft, probably written for an Italian seminar held in Melbourne, 1968

Press clippings of poems printed in Education: journal of the NSW Public School Teachers Federation

Draft paper in French 

Folder 25

Press clipping

Education: journal of the NSW Public School Teachers Federation – drafts (some first) and related correspondence:

‘The role of the P&C movement in the integration of the migrant into the community’.

‘Education in Europe’.

The English Association Annual Dinner, 1957 (Union Recorder), monitor broadcast

‘Personalities past and present’

‘Comprehensive secondary education’

‘Statement of the Wyndham Committee’

‘The comprehensive school’

‘NSW Parent and Ex-students Association – selective high schools’ (Diesendorf was a foundation member)

Comprehensive secondary education – talk

‘The myth of the Wyndham Report’ (paper) – various statements by Diesendorf

‘Selectivity and the Wyndham Report’ – short paper

‘The common core’ –- talk

‘The children growing up’ - talk at Orange cinema

‘The role of the P&C movement in the integration of the migrant into the community’ – carbon copy

Folder 26

Notes for an address

Correspondence with Robert Graves and La Recherche (Paris)

Folder 27

Correspondence relating to Rosemary Dobson’s L’enfant au cacatoe. Paris, 1967

Folder 28

Original cover design for PAN. 44, 1972

Drafts – ‘Two lessons in Viennese cooking’, ‘A democratic case against state aid’

Drafts – ‘Witness: biographical short story’ of Diesendorf

New Poetry from Australia material

Draft – ‘L’enfantau cacatoes’ by Rosemary Dobson 

Folder 29

Thank you correspondence

Folder 30

Correspondence with Mariano Coreno regarding Vento al sole

’Con le mani aperte al sole’ – draft

Miscellaneous correspondence 

Box 5

Folder 31

3 audio cassettes, including 'John to us in NY, USA'

Folder 32

Correspondence from Rina Lasnier including some of Diesendorf’s replies

Correspondence relating to ‘Sonnets de l’ingeneur’

Correspondence relating to Poetry magazine,4/5

Folder 33

Correspondence with Louis Dautheul regarding a novel in the form of love letters

Folder 34

Correspondence mainly in French

Folder 35

Correspondence with Grace Perry regarding poems discussed over the phone

Folder 36

Two articles - ‘Water fluoridation’ and ‘Statement on consumer standards regarding water’

Berrima Winter by Grace Perry – draft

Correspondence with AD Hope, Geoffrey Dutton, DJ Enright

Folder 37

Transcript of a recording by Trudy Swift

Correspondence from notable poets

Folder 38-40

Correspondence with British poet and literary editor Howard Sergeant, 1975-1983

Box 6

Folder 41-45

Correspondence with Howard Sergeant, 1975-1983

Folder 46

Correspondence with Monsieur Victor Barbeau, President de l’Academie Canadienne-Francaise, regarding Cahiers  de l’Academie Canadienne-Francaise 13 et 14 with dedication

La face et l’envers: essais critiques by Victor Barbeau, with dedication and letter

Libre examen de la democratie by Victor Barbeau, 1960 with dedication

L’Academie Canadienne-Francaise by Victor Barbeau.

Handwritten manuscript by C.F. Meyer ‘Novellen. Personlichkeitsgehalt’, Seminar, Unterstufe,  Margarete Máté,1932/3, University of Vienna

Correspondence with American poet Herbert Woodward Martin

Folder 47

The electrical imagination: electricity in literature and music compiled by Brian Coleman, 2nd enlarged edition with additional unpublished Australian material provided by Diesendorf

Folder 48

Correspondence regarding Borestone Mountain Poetry Awards

’Modern German Poetry’ lecture delivered by Diesendorf at the University of Sydney (in Poetry Australia series) – draft

’Education abroad: school reform in Germany’ by Diesendorf – draft (unpublished due to Wyndham Report controversy) 

Box 7

Folder 49

Script of interview with Diesendorf by Rudi Krausmann

Booklets in German prepared for the Commonwealth Office of Education for the instruction and information of migrants on various aspects Australian citizenship, including the ‘Census’, ‘Learning English’, ‘Citizenship’

Folder 50

Correspondence with Martin Haley (1905–1980), poet, essayist, translator, teacher

Folder 51

Correspondence with Poetry Australia

Folder 52

Photocopied manuscripts of ‘Poems of Grace Perry’, with German translations by Diesendorf

Folder 53

Manuscripts and correspondence concerning Creative moment poetry journal

Folder 54

Creative moment – draft, proof stage of Diesendorf special issue

Folder 55

Photocopy manuscript of Diesendorf’s article ‘Aboriginal Poets Writing in English: Kath Walker, Jack Davis, Kevin Gilbert’ for Creative moment, Spring 1973

Creative moment, Spring, 1973, II, I

’A Lume Spento’ (obituary for Ezra Pound, Poetry Australia) for the Poetry Australia notice board – carbon copies

French version of welcome to CIGRE (Conference Internationale des Grands Reseaux Electriques), Melbourne, 1973

Festival of Sydney 1979 papers including invitation to participate (Adrian Rawlins) and publicity material

Correspondence from Margaret Trist (1914-1986), Australian writer

Folder 56

Poems collected by Diesendorf for shortlisting after consideration by Robert Graves, for a planned anthology of ‘New Australian Poets’ co-edited by both writers

Folder 57

Correspondence with Yasmine Gooneratne, Australian-based writer and academic, and noted Sri Lankan poet

Creative moment – issue featuring Gooneratne’s work

Folder 58

Two unpublished addresses - ‘A reply to what is new on the poetry scene’, ‘What ethnic writers can, and could, do in the field of translation.’

Australia Council writing grant assessment – Raphael Pomain

Australia Council writing grant assessment – Jutta Sieverding

Miscellaneous business correspondence 

Box 8

Folder 59

View Clubs Australia – judge’s report, 1974

Folder 60-64

Papers relating to ‘Correspondence: a novel in the form of love letters’

Box 9 

Folder 65

Miscellaneous newspaper clippings

Correspondence from Norman Talbot, James Dickey, Alan Rees (son of artist Lloyd Rees), Barry Breen and Margaret Denat

Folder 66

Typescript draft – ‘The Nine Lives of Big Meg O’Shannessy: poems’ by John Millett

Correspondence with Marguerite Schluter, Limes Verlag publishing house

Correspondence with Jean-Guy Pilon, editor of Liberte-Montreal, concerning the Canadian issue of Poetry Australia and Liberte-Montreal 52, with copies of the French versions of the poems submitted with the article

Folder 67

Three unpublished reviews, c1966-1967 for Poetry Australia – typescript carbon copies

Correspondence from Rosemary Dobson, 1961-1975

Correspondence with Barbara Giles, 1976-1982

Folder 68

Miscellaneous correspondence.

Correspondence from Louis Dautheuil, 1964-1985

Folder 69

Correspondence with Southern review, 1977

Correspondence regarding water fluoridation

Correspondence with Howard Sergeant, 1983-1986

Folder 70

Published and unpublished manuscripts

Poetry Australia correspondence

Folder 71

Review of The rebirth of Austria by Richard Hiscocks, 1957 

Translation of the ‘Charter of the Swiss Confederacy: 1291’

Translation from the French by Diesendorf of paper by Guinean poet Djibril Tamsir Niane for PEN international bulletin

Folder 72

Correspondence with West Australian poet Joyce Parkes

Box 10

Folder 73

Correspondence with West Australian poet Joyce Parkes

Folder 74-76

Correspondence from Rupert Oliviera, Parts 1-3

Folder 77

Correspondence from Australian poet Judith Wright

Folder 78

Typescript draft – ‘The Body the Altar’, selected and translated by Diesendorf

Folder 79

’Traduttore: traditore?’ – typescript draft outline of autobiography

’King Orben’s autobiography’ handwritten draft by Thor Diesendorf

Assessments of Jacques Delarvelle and Jutta Sieverding

Copy of Rudi Krausmann interview with Margaret Diesendorf

Folder 80-81

Miscellaneous correspondence relating to writing and publishing, Parts 1-2

Box 11

Folder 82

Miscellaneous correspondence relating to writing and publishing, Part 3

Folder 83

Correspondence, documents and notes relating to Joseph Nadler

Copies of manuscripts published and unpublished work

Newspaper clippings

Folder 84

‘Alexi’ and ‘Sound in poetry’ – articles on school reform

Folder 85

Correspondence with poet Frederick Parmee

Crayon self-portrait (aged 16)

Photograph of Diesendorf, 1933

’Sonnet’ worksheets

Folder 86

Correspondence with Lloyd Rees, Lolo Honbein and Jocelyn Ott-Saeed

Folder 87

Poems dedicated to Diesendorf

Australian book review, Adelaide Festival of Arts, 1968

’This Bitter Earth’ by LE Scott

Folder 88

‘Die Dichtungssprache des Expressionisms’, Margaretha Máté, PhD thesis



Folio 1

Galley proofs:

Poetry Australia, No. 1, December. 1964, plus printed issue

E&S poetry frozen section

Poetry Australia, No. 27

Poetry magazine, No. 1, 1964, plus printed issue

E&S poetry, No. 22 [no date]

E&S poetry, No. 45, 1972

Folio 2

Record, 33 1/3rpm – Nexus & Earle Birney III

Florilège collection – French poetry including Laforgue, Rictus, Jammes, Apollinaire, Jacob, Carco, Cadon


Audio Visual material

See also Box 5/Folder 31 for three additional audiocassettes

AV Box 1

AV 1.1

Audio cassette – Dinner at the Feintuch home in Paris (Feintuch was one of the directors of Électricité de France)

AV 1.2

Audio cassette – Matron talks with us: lunch at Trelawney Street home (‘Matron’ was the former matron at Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS), Moss Vale, where Diesendorf was French and German mistress)

AV 1.3

Audio cassette – Diesendorf singing

AV 1.4

Audio cassette – Halloween, USA, fall in Vermont: recording made whilst guest at the home of a fascinating young Australian mother of four (whose husband was a scientist)

AV 1.5

Audio cassette – Reminiscences: Diesendorf’s arrival in Australia, 1939, first impressions

AV 1.6

Audio cassette – Trudy Swift remembers...with her husband, Dean, contributing (a descendant of the creator of Gulliver’s travels, Jonathan Swift: recording of reminiscences of Diesendorf’s school friend and fellow Australian immigrant Swift

AV 1.7

Audio cassette – Life at Rensselear whilst Diesendorf’s husband was Visiting Professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York

AV 1.8

Audio cassette – Syed Amanuddin reading his poems

AV 1.9

Audio cassette – Diesendorf reading (for tape and unprepared) poems from Rosemary Dobson’s L’Enfant au Cacatoes, to mail to her now blind collaborator and friend, Louis Dautheuil (partly erased)

AV 1.10          

Audio cassette – Diesendorf reading a selection of her own poems

AV 1.11

Audio cassette – Recording of Diesendorf’s son John providing information on his parents to the Academy Library, UNSW Canberra


AV Box 2

Check with Curator