Guide to the Papers of David Headon [MSS 351]

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Manuscript Name Papers of David Headon
Manuscript Number MSS 351
Last Updated July 2021
Extent 10 boxes + 1 oversize + 2 AV boxes
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Correspondence and documents relating to David Headon's contribution to Writers Against Nuclear Arms and the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, and research material, correspondence, and drafts relating to Headon's publications

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content

The papers of David Headon comprise Writers Against Nuclear Arms (WANA) correspondence and documents, Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) documents and notes, Imagining the real documents, notes and correspondence, and material relating to Australia sporting culture. Also included in the collection are extensive papers related to the Northern Territory, such as correspondence and research for North of the Ten Commandments, correspondence and recordings regarding Darwin writers-in-residence, articles, short stories, and correspondence relating to the Northern Territory literary awards, and other miscellaneous material. Correspondents include literary figures such as Bruce Dawe, Elizabeth Jolley, and Les Murray, as well as sportspeople such as Cathy Freeman and Shane Gould

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note

Historian, author, and television presenter David Headon was born in 1950. First publishing biographies, criticisms, and interviews in the early 1980s in publications such as Westerly, Meanjin, and Northern perspective, he has also edited numerous works such as Imagining the real : Australian writing in the nuclear age (1987, co-edited with Dorothy Green) and North of the ten commandments : A collection of Northern Territory literature (1991). From 1994-2004 Headon was the Director of the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies, from 2000-2007 the Cultural Advisor to the National Capital Authority, and from 2008-2013 the History and Heritage Advisor for the Centenary of Canberra. A regular commentator on cultural, political, and social issues on ABC radio, from 2008-2015 Headon presented a series of segments for ABC TV on Canberra’s centenary history. His publications and research interests cover topics such as the history of Canberra, sporting anecdotes, and Australian culture

Austlit : David Headon retrieved 30 October 2020

Australian Studies Institute : Dr David Headon retrieved 30 October 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 David Headon, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 351, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


Check with Curator


Subject Keywords



David Headon, 1950- — Archives

Australian literature — Northern Territory

Nuclear warfare and literature — Australia

Sports — Australia — 20th century

Personal Names

David Headon, 1950-

Corporate Names

Association for the Study of Australian Literature

Writers Against Nuclear Arms





Container List


Box 1

Folder 1

Personal - education

Master of Arts thesis, University of Sydney 1975-1976 – EE Cummings;

Prospectus for doctoral thesis (English literature) (April 1979), prospectus notes, and ‘The Quick & the Dead – the Breadth of Australia’s Poetry in the Last Decade (Charles Buckmaster, Bruce Dawe, Michael Dransfield & Les Murray)’;

Handwritten notes from various issues of Meanjin

Folder 2

Personal - education

Doctoral thesis notes: Bibliography, chronology of criticism and anthologies (1790-1979; 1940-1979), Bibliography of UBC (University of British Columbia) books;

Notes for thesis conclusion;

Summary notes;

Doctoral thesis 1909-1945; 1945-1979;

Sheaf of article extracts with David Headon’s annotation, marginalia;

Handwritten notes on authors, sources, book locations

Folder 3

Writers-in-residence (Darwin)


Darwin Community College, including invitation to Elizabeth Jolley to deliver lecture, November 1983;

Letters to and from and concerning Roland Robinson, September 1982 – January 1984;

Letters to and from Bruce Dawe with invoices concerning his visit, December 1982 – July 1984;

Letters concerning Les Murray with invoices concerning his visit, July - September 1984;

Letters to and from Thea Astley and Geoff Page, August and September 1986;

Other writer Writer-in-Residence-related correspondence, 1978, 1983-1986;

Department of Foreign Affairs, May 1984 and February 1985

Writers-in-residence (Darwin)

Documents, notes and recordings

Residency of Roland Robinson 1983;

Visit of Les Murray and Chris Koch 1984;

Writer-in-Residence and Guest Speakers 1984;

Astley Page Writer-in-Residence 1987-1988;

Foreign Affairs Exchanges;

Cassette tapes: (1) Chris Koch ‘Echoes to Begin With’ / ‘Victorian Poetry of Robert Browning’; (2) ‘M. DeGraaf’ / -; (3) ‘Bruce Dawe Interview, recorded 26/7/84’ (4 and 5) ‘And The Band Played – Interview with Thea Astley May 1984’;

3 BASF tapes: SP 55 R-18/360m - ‘Bruce Dawe in His Study’

Folder 4

Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL)


Letters and other correspondence for the years 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988

Folder 5


Documents and notes

ASAL Perth 1983;

ASAL Executive Meeting, 8-9 March 1984, Adelaide;

ASAL, August, Ballarat 1984

Folder 6


Documents and notes

ASAL Executive Meeting, 7-8 February 1985, Melbourne;

ASAL, 25-31 August 1985, University of New England;

ASAL 1986, James Cook University, Townsville [handbook only];

ASAL 1987, Launceston, 6-10 July [handbook only];

ASAL 1988, University of Sydney, 14-19 August [handbook only]


Box 2

Folder 7

Northern Territory Literary Awards


Letters, memos for the years 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1992-1993

Northern Territory Literary Awards

Newspaper articles

Newspaper articles (1984)

Folder 8

Northern Territory Literary Awards

Documents and Notes

Northern Territory Literary Awards, 1984-1993;

Northern Territory Literary Awards visit – various selected short stories and presentation slots (undated)

Folder 9

Northern Territory Literary Awards

Documents and notes

Arafura short story award – selected short stories (undated)

Folder 10

Northern Territory - miscellaneous

Documents and notes

File: ‘Creaghe’ – concerning the life of Emily Caroline Creaghe (1860-1944);

File: [Descriptions of the Northern Territory]: Jasper Gorge, history of Northern Territory, Oenpelli, The Never-Never, Alice Springs, Peter J. Forrest, ‘The Northern Territory’;

File: Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ‘Radio Drama and Features’ series, including letter from Gwen McGregor, dated 20 February 1985;

File: Eight top PM programmes – correspondence (February 1984 - March 1986); transcripts of interviews with: Elizabeth Jolley; Les Murray, Bruce Dawe, Thea Astley (all 1984), and Roland Robinson (1983); handwritten notes/drafts for radio presentations, guest slots

Folder 11

Northern Territory - miscellaneous

Documents and notes

File: Poems – poetry-related draft manuscripts from: Mark O’Connor, Mark de Graaf, and Patrick McCauley (1980s)


Box 3

Folder 12

Imagining the real (1986)


Letters, faxes and other communications (arranged into (i). August-November 1986; (ii). December 1986, and (iii). January-July 1987) to and/or from participants in Imagining the Real, 11 November 1986: includes Patrick White, Dorothy Green, Tom Keneally, Thea Astley, Faith Bandler, Judith Wright, Bruce Dawe, Geoff Page, Kate Grenville, Roland Robinson, and Manning Clark;

Permission letters to publishers (February-April 1987);

Letters about book publication galleys (March 1987)

Folder 13

Imagining the real (1988)


Letters, faxes, and other communications (arranged into (i). 1988; and (ii). 1989) to and/or from participants including: Dorothy Green, Tom Keneally, Thea Astley, Judith Wright, Bruce Dawe, Rodney Hall, Roland Robinson, Peter Garrett

Folder 14

Imagining the real (1988)

Documents and notes

Drafts, working and annotated copies of poems and prose that were all located under a heading ‘Rejected Poems’: these include works by Bruce Dawe, Manning Clark, Judith Wright, Helen Caldicott, Alan Runciman, Patrick White, Dorothy Green, Ric Throssell, Kevin Gilbert

Folder 15

Imagining the real (1988)

Documents and notes

Draft, working and annotated copies of introduction chapter, book outline for Oxford University Press, opening of Exhibition of Anti-war Drawings by Ian Matthews, editor-in-chief of The Canberra Times, 10 November 1988

Folder 16

Imagining the real (1988)

Folder 17

North of the Ten Commandments


Communications with the Bicentennial Committee and Northern Territory government – 1983-1985, 1986, 1987, 1988-1989;

Plaque-related letters – 1984-1986;

Hodder & Stoughton Australia – 1988-1989

Folder 18

North of the Ten Commandments


Permissions letters - 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and undated;

Publication/proof-reading-related letters – 1990;

Miscellaneous letters (other publishers) – 1987-1988


Box 4

Folder 19

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

Green files: Section 1: Beginnings; Section 2: ‘Bareheaded to the Sun’: Early White Voyages, Exploration; Section 3: Aborigines ‘Bone-Piled Spots’: The Whites Dig In; Section 4: Aborigines ‘Nobody Knows What It Means’: White Depiction of Aborigines; Section 5: Aborigines ‘Too Much Blackfeller’: The Black View; Section 6: Pilgrims

Folder 20

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

Green files (continued): Section 7: ‘My Spirit, My Country’; Section 8: ‘A Bastard of a Place’; Section 9: Darwin; Section 10: Going Overland; Section 11: Adventures, Incredibilities, Incongruities; Section 12: Nature’s Stage; Section 13: Sprees, Drunks & Race Meetings; Section 14: ‘Opening Up the Country’; Section 15: ‘Rock Belong Jesus Dreaming: The Missions’

Folder 21

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

File: ‘Stuff on 1. Preface 2. Introduction’;

File: ‘1. Preface 2. Introduction and Footnotes 3. Photograph Captions + My Acknowledgements/Thanks Dedication’;

File: ‘Stuff for 48 Photographs in Ten Commandments + Cover’.


Box 5

Folder 22

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

File: ‘20th Century White Non-Fiction’;

File: ‘Epigraphs’

Folder 23

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

Paste-up pre-publication version of North of the Ten Commandments – ‘Introduction’ to 5. ‘‘Too Much Blackfeller’: The Black View’

Folder 24

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

Paste-up pre-publication version of North of the Ten Commandments – 7. ‘My Spirit, My Country’ to 8. Land of Spirits: ‘A Bastard of a Place’

Folder 25

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

Pre-publication drafts with annotations of sections of North of the Ten Commandments

Folder 26

North of the Ten Commandments

Documents and notes

Sheaves of handwritten notes regarding publication, photos, communications with Bicentennial Committee, notes from newspaper articles and manuscripts, people to write to, individuals


Box 6

Folder 27

North of the Ten Commandments

Research papers

Hugh C. May, Diary of a visit to the Northern Territory (1872-1873) [Adelaide, 1873?];

Margriet R. Bonin, A Study of Australian Descriptive and Travel Writing, 1929-1945, doctoral thesis, Department of English, University of Queensland (1980);

Jay and Peter Read (editors), A View of the Past: Aboriginal Accounts of Northern Territory History [excerpts]. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies [Darwin, 1979?];

Simon Hopkinson, Buffaloes Can’t Fly [play] (1981);

Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! [play] – no author or publication details found;

Bibliographies for the Northern Territory, and some selected poems

Folder 28

North of the Ten Commandments

Research papers

Packets labelled section 1-15 with photographs from selected texts to be included and deleted

Folder 28A

Three series of index cards


Box 7

Folder 29

The Oxford book of Australian sporting anecdotes

Documents and notes

‘Master List’;

‘Question Entries’;

‘Marked’ - paste-up draft version of book;

[Untitled] - annotated entries/anecdotes from various sources;

Rugby union-related newspaper article (1991), with untitled checklist for citations in book

Folder 30

Bradman, Barellan, Balmain and Bocce: the culture of Australian Sport [conference]


Letters, memos, faxes, for April-July 1993, August 1993, September 1993, October-December 1993, January-February 1994, May 1994, June 1994, January and May 1995, undated. These letters include correspondence with Cathy Freeman, Shane Gould, former Federal MP Ros Kelly, Kay Saunders, Sue Baker-Finch, Ted Egan, and Graeme Kinross-Smith;

Invoice-related correspondence and notes for costs, August-October 1993

Folder 31

Bradman, Barellan, Balmain and Bocce: the culture of Australian sport

Newspaper articles

Newspaper and magazine articles on sports issues, such as racism, training, retirement, early 1990s

Documents and notes

Promotional poster, newsletters and pamphlets, media releases, sportspeople/presenter profiles, registration/attendance forms, timetable for presentations;

Handwritten notes on sportspeople’s profiles (for example Shane Gould), chairpersons, organising presenters’ talks, Tatz display

Folder 32

Bradman, Barellan, Balmain and Bocce: the culture of Australian sport

Documents and notes

Papers presented at the conference:

‘The Sport of Racism’ – ‘It Was Never a Gentleman’s Game’ – ‘The One-Day Game: Cricket or Codswallop?’ – ‘The Honeymoon After the Grand Final – Social Costs of the Winning Syndrome in Australian Sport: An Anecdotal Approach’ – ‘Testosterone Overdose: Popular Culture and Historical Memory, Recent Writing on Rugby League’ – ‘A New Wave of Aryans: The Life Saver as National Icon’ – ‘From Crinolines to Culottes and Caps: Women & Cricket in Australia’ – ‘Sports that Need Balls’ – ‘...and Don’t Forget Boomerali’ – ‘‘Making Aussies?’ or What soccer is all about?’: Soccer and European migrants to Australia, 1945-93’ – ’Putting Soul into the Cemetery with Lights: The Canberra Raiders Phenomenon’ – ‘And the Big Men Barrack-Or Do They?’ – ‘Selling Sport – the Australian Way – ‘‘A World of Difference’: Ethnicity & Australian Sport’ – ‘The Changing Face of Australian Sport 1993’

Folder 33

(Photographs and recorded material formerly filed in Box 7/Folder 33 were removed and placed in AV Box 1)

Folder 34

Australian culture after Mabo [conference]


Letters, memos, faxes, for March 1992, May 1994 – June 1995

Australian culture after Mabo

Newspaper articles

File: ‘Mabo Clippings’, with copies of articles published in October 1993;

Original newspaper articles from Australian national papers, 1992-1993


Box 8

Folder 35

Australian culture after Mabo

Documents and notes

Papers, speeches presented at the conference, including draft versions:

‘Opening Speech’ – ‘Changes in Cultural Values since Mabo’ – ‘A Tentative Step Forward: The Social and Cultural Impact of the Mabo Decision’ – ‘From George Grey to the Smiling Wandjina: How far have we progressed?’ – ‘Australian Culture after Mabo’;

‘Guilt and the Australian History Curriculum’, by Kevin Keeffe (1988);

Centre for Continuing Education (ANU). Australian Culture after Mabo, Transcript of Proceedings, 10-11 November 1994

Conference organisation papers, promotional/publicity materials, handwritten notes

Folder 36

WANA: Writers Against Nuclear Arms (1986-1987)


‘Prospective Members of WANA’: letters, memos, arranged for January and March 1986, September-October 1986, November 1986, December 1986, January-March 1987; and undated. These letters include those from or to Hazel Hawke, Elizabeth Jolley, Helen Garner, Dorothy Green, Stephen Kelen, Dimitris Tsaloumas, former National Party MP Ian Sinclair, and Geoffrey Dutton;

‘ACT School Students Who Participated at WANA Symposium’ – September 1986-January 1987;

‘WANA: Letters to Participants’, arranged for August and October 1986, and August-September 1987. These letters include letters to Patrick White, David Malouf, Faith Bandler, Judith Wright, Kate Grenville, Kath Walker, Roland Robinson, Tom Keneally, Dorothy Johnston, and Thea Astley;

‘International Year of Peace/Peace Symposium 1986’ letters, arranged for October 1985-October 1986, and January-November 1987;

William Maley correspondence, 1986-1987;

Russian correspondence, 1985-1988;

ABC tape of the symposium correspondence, November 1986 and January 1987, with handwritten notes

Folder 37

WANA (1986-1987)

Documents and notes

WANA ‘Draft Statement’ and correspondence for October 1986;

Peace Committee project funding application forms, correspondence and meeting minutes (for May, June, August and October 1986);

WANA State and Territory Representatives, 1986-1987, with questionnaire responses Australia-wide;

Invoices and financial matters, costs, 1986;

Notes on organising accommodation, billeting, participants, schools, speaking schedules, times

Folder 38

WANA (1986-1987)

Documents and notes

Papers/revised papers for Imagining the Real: Australians Writing in the Nuclear Age, Canberra, 11 November 1986


Box 9

Folder 39

WANA (1988-1990)


Letters, memos, faxes, arranged for September and December 1987, May-December 1988, January-July 1989, February 1990-May 1991;

Edward St John, November 1988-February 1991;

Jo Valentine, November 1988;

Judith Wright, April-May 1988;

Australia Council, October 1990-March 1991.

WANA 1990 participants, March-November 1990, including letters, memos, faxes, to and from Petra Kelly (Greens MP in Germany) and John Pilger (journalist);

‘Looking Beyond Yesterday’ correspondence with: Oxford University Press, September 1988-August 1990; and Mississippi State University, January-November 1989

Folder 40

WANA (1988-1990)

Newspaper articles

WANA-related articles (also ‘Imagining the Real’), 1987-1988;

Cold War, nuclear power, nuclear arms/disarmament-related articles, from Australian and international newspapers, 1986-1991;

Newspaper articles and advertisements – invoices for symposium placement and copies of articles, 1986-1988;

The Canberra Times correspondence and notes regarding articles for publication, 1987-1988

Folder 41

WANA (1988-1990)

Documents and notes

Various issues of peace movement-related newsletters, publications, bulletins, 1986-1990;

WANA brochures, pamphlets and others concerning nuclear disarmament, 1986-1990;

WANA minutes of meetings, October 1987-June 1988; with application for literature grant (draft, undated);

Papers (1987-1990): ‘The Center Year: A Review of the Activities of the Center on Violence and Human Survival’ – ‘Address to Launch Looking Beyond Yesterday – The Australian Artist and New Paths to Our Future’ – ‘Counter Blast’ – ‘Summary of the Annual Workshop and General Meeting of the Australian Coalition for Disarmament...Abbotsford, Victoria’ – ‘France is Planning a Kerguelen Caper to Escape the Moruroa Mess’ – ‘Old Notes from a Cold Warrior’ ‘United Nations III Special Session on Disarmament’ – ‘The Hiroshima Drawings’;

‘Cartoons Not Used’

Folder 42

WANA (1988-1990)

Documents and notes

‘WANA 1988’: participants, invoices, receipts, contributions, drafts/paste-ups of publicity material, catering, venue, people to invite

Folder 43

WANA (1988-1990)

Documents and notes

‘WANA 1990’: participants, publicity/promotions, invoices and receipts, rooms and catering, mailing lists, minutes of meetings (WANA, February-August 1990; ACDP, October 1990), contributions, strategy of WANA


Box 10

Folder 44

WANA (1988-1990)

Documents and notes

‘WANA 1990’: Master file with copies of all the symposium documents given to attendees

Folder 45

Looking beyond yesterday

Documents and notes

File: ‘My Introduction to Looking Beyond Yesterday (1990) (Notes/Materials Used)’

Folder 46

Heinemann WANA book (unpublished)


Letters, faxes, notes, arranged for September 1988, October 1990-February 1991; and undated - two letters from Paper Bark Press (1990?) that refer to eight photograph prints (stored in Folder 33) of Benny Zable, peace activist, by Juno Gemes. The above-mentioned letters include those from or to Helen Garner, Anne Edgeworth, Kirstin Isaacs and others

Folder 47

Heinemann WANA Book (unpublished)

Documents and notes

Papers of Petra Kelly, Green Party MP, Germany, September 1989-October 1990, with photocopies of newspaper articles;

‘Abstracts’, including John Pilger, ‘The Cold War is not Over’;

Papers: Cassandra Pybus, ‘“Realpolitik” and the Greens’ – Shirley E. Freeman, ‘Scientists in Disarmament’ – Paul Malone, ‘Journalists and the Gulf war’ – Brian Toohey, ‘The Role of the Media’ – Craig McCormick, ‘Of Nuclear Tests and the Mushroom Syndrome’ – Dorothy Green, ‘Some Thoughts on the November Symposium’ – Helen Garner, ‘What the Soul Wants’ – Dorothy Johnston, ‘Moving to Woden’, ‘A Surfeit of Moths’, ‘The Studio’ – Ian R. Mathews, ‘Facing the New Reality’;

Selection of poems: Bruce Dawe, Elizabeth Lawson, Lois O’Donoghue, Robert Adamson

Folder 48

Imagining the real – material sent by writers


Letters, memos, September 1986-July 1991, includes correspondence to or from Bruce Dawe, Judith Wright, Bernard Smith, Kevin Gilbert, Andrew Hughes, and Thea Astley

Folder 49

Imagining the real – material sent by writers

Documents and notes

Radio show notes (including handwritten notes), ‘review of York Making Weapons, Talking Peace’;

Papers/draft papers by luminaries such as Dorothy Johnston, Judith Wright, Dorothy Hewett, Rodney Hall, Fiona McDonald, Kate Grenville, Blanche d’Alpuget, Manfred Jurgensen, and Judith Rodriguez

Folder 50

Imagining the real – material sent by writers

Documents and notes

William Maley and other review material;

‘Launch of [Imagining] the Real 6/8/87’


Oversized material

Folio 1

Imagining the real

Cartoons by Bruce Petty, Ron Tandberg and Nick Green;

WANA posters;

‘The Hiroshima Drawings’;

‘Writers Against Nuclear Arms Symposium Program’;

Posters for Looking beyond yesterday


Audiovisual material

AV Box 1

Bradman, Barellan, Balmain and bocce: the culture of Australian sport

Two sets of photos (with negatives) taken at the conference in October 1993: famous people in these shots include Al Grassby, Shane Gould, Ted Egan, Denis Pagan, Lex Marinos; explanatory brief dated 7 November 1993 is situated behind the first photograph;

Two audio-cassette tapes [not in box]: (1) ‘Lex Marinos’  (2) ‘Ian King’


Set of 45 colour photographs with negatives from WANA event but no documentation as to which one: people identified include Patrick White, Thomas Keneally, David Headon, David Malouf, Faith Bandler;

Black and white photographs: (i) The Canberra Times collection: Bernard Smith, Rosemary Dobson, Judith Wright, Ric Throssell, Bob Brissenden, Manning Clark, Blanche d’Alpuget, (ii) Marian Eldridge and Bruce Dawe; (iii) launch of ‘Imagining the Real’, with Headon family and Tom Uren identified; and (iv) David Rubie and Liz [Kennett?];

11 audio-cassette tapes: (i) and (ii) Bruce Dawe, (iii)-(vii) Patrick White, (viii) Walker-Astley-Wright-Johnston-Hewett-Runciman-McQueen-White, (ix) Science Bookshop No. 40, (x) Science Bookshop 10/1/88: Robert Jay Lifton, (xi) White-Bennett-Neilson-Grenville-Hall-Smith-McDonald


AV Box 2

VHS (E-60) video cassette ‘Launch of “Imagining the Real” at Australian Defence Force Academy Library, 6 August 1987’