Guide to the Papers of Nancy Phelan [MSS 072]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Nancy Phelan
Manuscript Number MSS 072
Last Updated June 2021
Extent 4 boxes
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Typescripts, galley proofs

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content 

This collection comprises typescripts and proof copies of biographical and other works by Nancy Phelan including The Voice Beyond the Trees, Home is the Sailor, Charles Mackerras, The Romantic Lives of Louise Mack, The Chilean Way, A Kingdom by the Sea and Pieces of Heaven.

Biographical Note

Wikipedia article:

Nancy Phelan was educated at the University of Sydney and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She lived in England from 1938 to 1945, returning to Australia after World War II with her husband and daughter. For five years Phelan was a member of the South Pacific Commission, working and travelling in the Pacific Islands, experiences described in her book Pieces of Heaven. She travelled widely in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America, Japan and the USSR.

As well as the works listed on AustLit, Phelan wrote a number of travel books, including Morocco is a Lion (1982). She also wrote, either in collaboration with Michael Volin or on her own, a series of yoga guides (from Yoga for Women in 1963 to Yoga and Sex in 1977, with many titles reprinted in later years), as well as craft books including Coral as a Building Material (1952), How to Make Your Own Filmstrips (1954) and How to Make Your Own Posters (1957). In collaboration with Nina Nicolaieff she produced a series of Russian cookbooks between 1969 and 1981. Phelan published a biography of her cousin, the musician and conductor Charles Mackerras, in 1987.

Phelan befriended a number of well known artists and writers, among them Dorothy Hewett, Patrick White and Kylie Tennant. Three of Phelan's aunts, Louise MackAmy Mack and Gertrude Mack, were also Australian writers.

For further details about her life see her autobiography Writing Round the Edges (2003).

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 If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items.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 Nancy Phelan, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 72, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


The collection was acquired in 1988, 1991 and 1996

Related Material 

Further papers of Nancy Phelan are held by the State Library of New South Wales at MLMSS 6427 and MLOH 279


Subject Keywords


Women writers - Australia - Archives

Biographers - Australia - Archives

Personal Names

Nancy Phelan, 1913-2008

Louise Mack, 1870-1935

Charles Mackerras, 1925-2010





Container List

Box 1


Folder 1 

Annotated typescript of The Voice beyond the trees

Folder 2

The Voice beyond the Trees - Galley

Folder 3

Annotated typescript of Home is the Sailor and The Best of Intentions

Folder 4

Typescript of Home is the Sailor (‘2nd last version’)

Folder 5

Charles Mackerras: A musicians’ musician – Annotated galley

Folder 6

Typescripts: ‘The Appoggiatura’, ‘What Mozart really meant: Figaro’, ‘Handel’, ‘Janacek’ and ‘Aspects of conducting’


Box 2


Folder 7

Annotated typescript of Charles Mackerras: A musicians’ musician


Box 3


Folder 8

Annotated typescript of The Romantic Lives of Louise Mack (final version, working copy) (1/2)

Folder 9

Annotated typescript of The Romantic Lives of Louise Mack (2/2)

Folder 10

Typescript of The Chilean Way (last version)

Folder 11

Typescript of The Chilean Way

Folder 12

Typescript of A Kingdom by the Sea

Folder 13

First proofs of The Romantic Lives of Louise Mack (corrected but replaced because of wrong type setting) (1/2)

Folder 14

First proofs of The Romantic Lives of Louise Mack (corrected but replaced because of wrong type setting) (2/2)


Box 4


Folder 15

Pieces of Heaven – Annotated original typescript copy

Folder 16

Pieces of Heaven – Page proofs, altered and worked over