Guide to the Papers of Ann Jennings [MSS 311]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Ann Jennings
Manuscript Number MSS 311
Last Updated October 2021
Extent 1 box
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Letters and draft poems sent by Gwen Harwood to her friend, Ann Jennings, 1960-1992

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content

This collection comprises letters written by Gwen Harwood over a thirty-year period (1960-1992) to her friend and fellow Tasmanian writer, Ann Jennings. Highlights include letters relating to Harwood’s 1961 literary hoax with the Bulletin, photographs of fellow poets James McAuley, Vivian Smith, Hal Porter, Vincent Buckley, a long letter from composer Edwin Tanner, a musical score, and postcards from Tom Shapcott and Judith Rodriquez. The material is accompanied by handwritten and typescript drafts of poems, including some of Harwood’s poetry sequence ‘Suburban Sonnets’

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note 

Ann Jennings

Katherine Ann Allardyce Butler (later Jennings) was born in 1925, growing up at Fern Tree, at the foot of Mt Wellington, Hobart, a granddaughter of the former Governor of Tasmania (1920-1922), Sir William Allardyce. She began writing diaries as a teenager, expressing her deep affinity with nature, a practice which she continued into the 1960s. A close friendship developed between Jennings and poet Gwenn Harwood when their children were young.  The two women shared bushwalks and an intellectual rapport, with Jennings becoming a ‘muse’ for Harwood’s writings. 

Jennings’ diaries were discovered in an ottoman after her death in 2002 and selected extracts were posthumously awarded the prize of runner-up in the 2007 Wildcare Tasmania Nature Writing competition.  Harwood’s poem ‘An Impromptu for Ann Jennings’ was published in Quadrant magazine in September 1970.

Gwen Harwood

Australian poet and librettist, Gwen Harwood (nee Foster) was born in Brisbane in 1920, excelling as a pianist before moving to Hobart in 1945. Harwood’s poetry began being published in The Bulletin and Meanjin in the 1940s, and her first collected anthology Poems was issued in 1963. Harwood became friends with other Australian poets including Vivian Smith, James McAuley, Vincent Buckley, and A.D. Hope, and was a librettist for composers such as Larry Sitsky and James Penberthy.

Harwood died in 1995 and continues to be regarded as one of Australia's finest poets, having published over 420 works and won numerous literary awards.  One of Australia's most significant poetry prizes, the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize is named in her honour, and her work is widely studied in schools and universities.

Author record, Ann Jennings, AustLit (, St Lucia: The University of Queensland, 2002- retrieved 2 November 2020

Author record, Gwen Harwood, AustLit (, St Lucia: The University of Queensland, 2002- retrieved 2 November 2020

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition: Harwood, Gwendoline Nessie (Gwen) (1920–1995)  retrieved 2 November 2020

Wikipedia article: retrieved 2 November 2020


Administrative Information


Access and Copying Conditions

Access: Check with Curator

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: Check with Curator

Preferred Citation

Papers of Ann Jennings, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 311, Box [Number], Folder [Number]


Check with Curator

Related Material

Additional correspondence between Ann Jennings and close friend Hal Porter (including five letters from Porter to Gwen Harwood) is located at the State Library of New South Wales at MLMSS 5861, MLMSS 7172 and MLMSS 7176

Marriage photos of Ann and Roger Jennings (c1946) are housed in the Butler Family Photographs at the Tasmanian Archives (NS2217/1/355).

Separated Material

This collection originally included the following two volume work, now transferred to the Special Collections rare book stack:

Fielding, Henry, 1707-1754. The history of Tom Jones: a foundling. London: George Routledge, 1884, Volumes 1 & 2


Subject Keywords



Ann Jennings, 1925-2002 – Archives

Gwen Harwood, 1920-1995 – Correspondence

Australian poetry – 20th century

Women poets, Australian – Tasmania – Sources

Personal Names

Ann Jennings, 1925-2002

Gwen Harwood, 1920-1995




Container List


Box 1

Folder 1

Poetry drafts, typescript and handwritten

Letters from Gwen Harwood to Ann Jennings, 1960-1972

Folder 2

Letters from Gwen Harwood to Ann Jennings, 1973-1989

Folder 3

Letters from Gwen Harwood to Ann Jennings, 1990-1992