The papers of MS 5781 comprise literary manuscripts, correspondence, research material, newspaper cuttings, subject files, financial records and other papers. A significant proportion of the collection relates to conservation and Aboriginal concerns, with extensive files on the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, the Australian Conservation Foundation and other organisations. Literary material includes requests for use of Wright's poems and drafts of her books Because I was invited, The coral battleground, The generations of men, Charles Harpur, The cry for the dead and We call for a treaty and of her autobiography, Half a lifetime.
Correspondents include A.W. Sheppard, Rosemary Dobson, Barbara Blackman, Dorothy Green, Kevin Gilbert, Roberta Sykes, David Brooks, Ian Hudson, Thistle Stead, Stefanie Bennett, Julian Croft, John Reed, Roger McDonald, Henry Reynolds, Kathleen McArthur and Len Webb. Wright's close family relationships are represented by a substantial correspondence between Wright and her husband, J.P. (Jack) McKinney, and with her daughter, Meredith McKinney (105 boxes, 1 fol. box, 1 elephant folio, 1 oversize box).
The Acc08.078 instalment comprises six folders and packets of correspondence, including Wright's letters to her cousin Tina Lister (née Wright), ca. 1969-ca. 1996; cuttings and other papers relating to Wright collected by Tina Lister, ca. 1952-1995; letters from Wright to Paul Sherman, 1958-1999; and, three folders of letters from Wright to her father, P.A. Wright, 1948-1959, 1960-1966 and 1966-1970 (1 box).
The Acc09.129 instalment is an exercise book containing poems (juvenilia) by Judith Wright written for her cousin Tina (Margaret) Wright (1 folder).
The Acc09.130 instalment comprises a manuscript book of poems titled "Habitat" by Judith Wright, dedicated to her daughter Meredith, written between January 1971 and February 1972 (1 folder).
Poet, essayist, conservationist and campaigner for Aboriginal rights. Judith Arundell Wright was 25 when her first poem was published and her first collection of verse, The moving image, was published in 1946. She went on to publish many other works including poetry, a biography of her pioneering family, children's books and her autobiography. Wright was awarded Commonwealth Literary Fund Fellowships in 1949 and 1962, a Creative Arts Fellowship (ANU) in 1974, a Senior Anzac Fellowship in 1976 and a three-year Australia Council Literature Board Senior Writers Fellowship in 1977.
She also received a number of awards for her writing, including the Grace Leven Poetry Prize (1949), Encyclopaedia Britannica Prize (1963), Christopher Brennan Award, Fellowship of Australian Writers (1974), Robert Frost Memorial Award, Fellowship of Australian Writers (1976), Alice Award, Society of Women Writers of Australia (1980), NSW Premier's Special Award for Poetry (1991) and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry (1991). Wright was actively involved with issues relating to conservation, wildlife preservation and Aboriginal rights. These interests were reflected in her poetry and writings, which included her book, The cry for the dead (1981), about the treatment of Aborigines by settlers in Queensland from the 1840s to the 1920s.
Organisations with which Wright was involved include the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland as founding member and president, 1962-1976; Australian Society of Authors as foundation council member, 1963; Australian Conservation Foundation as a council member, 1964-1972, and made an honorary life member in 1980; Committee of Enquiry into the National Estate as a committee member, 1973-1974; Australian National University as a council member, 1975-1979 and as the first woman to be appointed to the council as the Governor-General's nominee; and, the Aboriginal Treaty Committee as secretary, 1979-1983.