Guide to the Papers of Phil Motherwell [MSS 168]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Phil Motherwell
Manuscript Number MSS 168
Last Updated April 2020
Extent 1 m. (3 boxes + 2 AV)
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Original notebooks, manuscripts, drafts of scripted plays and short films by Phil Motherwell.


Collection Subject Type 



Scope and Content

This collection relates to the career of Australian actor, playwright and novelist Phil Motherwell and includes personal papers, unpublished drafts and audiovisual works


Date Range of Content



Biographical Note 

Phillip Motherwell was born on 30 December 1946. He began his career as a playwright writing for Melbourne theatre companies in 1969. Often directing and acting in his own works, he began a long association with the Pram Factory Group and La Mama Theatre through to the 1980s. Appearing as an actor in the films Monkey Grip, Pure Shit and Mad Max, his own written works often echoed his real life experiences with petty crime and drug use. He published two novellas in 1977, developed several unrealised film scripts and scripted many unpublished plays which were produced in Australian and overseas theatres by notable companies such as Nimrod Theatre and Troupe Theatre. He died in Melbourne on 9 November 2014.


The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (2 ed.) : ’Motherwell, Phil (1946-)’

AustLit : ‘Phil Motherwell’ retrieved 18 November 2019

The Australian Live Peformance Database retrieved 18 November 2019


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 If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items.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collections is provided to clients by UNSW Canberra in good faith for private study and research only, and may not be published or re-purposed without the express and written permission of the individual legal holder of that copyright.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 Phil Motherwell, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 168, Box [Number], Folder [Number].



The collection was acquired in 1990 from Phil Motherwell



Motherwell’s papers have been arranged in the order in which they were transferred to Special Collections, with the exception of the audiovisual material which are described at the end of the box list


Subject Keywords



Phil Motherwell 1946-2014 – Archives

Australian theatre – 20th century


Melbourne (Victoria) - History


Personal Names 

Phil Motherwell 1946-2014


Corporate Names 

La Mama Theatre

Pram Factory Group



Actors, playwrights, authors


Container List


Box 1 

Draft manuscripts and notebooks.

Folder 1

Miscellaneous drafts                                                                                                   


Folder 2 

Film script, Fat Tuesday


Folder 3

Notebook, The Bodgie Tree [unpublished drama]

Notebook, Steal Away Home [drama] - 1st and 2nd drafts

Notebook, The Man who Lost his Head [unpublished drama]


Folder 4

Notebook, The Man who Lost his Head [unpublished drama]

Notebook, The Twine

Novella, Eddie Keally from Collingwood

Manuscript, Fling, Vol. 4, no. 4, Fling Poetry, Melbourne, 1984


Folder 5

Rehearsal notes, Held in Camera [unpublished drama]

Rehearsal notes, Fat Tuesday [film script]


Folder 6

Manuscript, Fitzroy Crossing

Manuscript, Steal Away Home [drama]


Folder 7

Manuscript, Steal Away Home [drama]


Folder 8

Manuscript, Steal Away Home [drama]


Box 2

Folder 9

Manuscripts, Hat Trick [film script]

Manuscript, Fitzroy Crossing

Manuscript, The Surgeon’s Arms [drama]

Manuscript, Meat Flag

Manuscript, untitled


Folder  10

Novella, Mr Bastard - 1st draft

Manuscript, Fitzroy Crossing, rewrite January 1990


Folder 11

Notebook, Fitzroy Crossing


Folder 12

Manuscript, Maundy Thursday

Extracts, Fitzroy Crossing


Folder 13

Drafts, Fitzroy Crossing Two

Novella drafts, Eddie Keally from Collingwood


Folder 14

Manuscript extracts


Folder 15

Manuscript extracts


Folder 16

Manuscript extracts


Box 3 

Folder 17

Manuscript extracts


Folder 18

Manuscript, Fitzroy Crossing

Manuscript, The Native Rose [unpublished drama]

Manuscript, The Bodgie Tree [unpublished drama]


Folder 19

Manuscript, The Man who Lost his Head [unpublished drama]

Manuscript, The Devil’s Elbow


Folder 20

Manuscript, Held in Camera [unpublished drama]

Manuscript, Pecking Orders [unpublished drama]

Manuscript, The Yellow Girl’ [unpublished drama] x 2 copies


Audiovisual Material

AV1 - digitised

Film, 16mm workprint - Punch and Judy (Phil Motherwell, Australia, c1980s)

AV2 - digitised

Film, 16mm B+W Print – The Battle of the Grimaces (Phil Motherwell, Australia, c1980s)