The papers in MS 2449 are mainly concerned with the acquisition of Australian literary works by Whelan, his submission of these works to their authors for annotation and autographing, and the subsequent donation of the annotated works to the National Library. They comprise manuscripts, correspondence, autographs, etc. relating to Australian literary figures. Correspondents include Charles Bertie, E.J. Brady, Henrietta Drake-Brockman, Frank Clune, Dymphna Cusack, Frank Davison, C.J. Dennis, A.P. Elkin, Mary Gilmore, Mrs Aeneas Gunn, Xavier Herbert, Rex Ingamells, H.G. Lamond, Agnes Littlejohn, J.S. Neilson, Nettie and Vance Palmer, R.B. Plowman, R. Quinn, P.G. Taylor, Arthur Upfield and G.W. Wicking. In many cases there are only one or two letters from each correspondent. The collection includes manuscripts by F. Davison, Mary Gilmore, Edward Harrington, Walter Iago, Hugh McCrae and E.J. Brady. Also included are letters received in connection with Whelan's interest in the early history of Cobb and Co. (4 boxes, 2 fol. boxes).
Book collector, soldier and library benefactor. Philip Sydney Whelan was born in Warwick, Queensland in 1873 and moved to Sydney with his parents in 1879. With the outbreak of the First World War, Whelan enlisted in the AIF and, after two and a half years of service, was severely wounded at Villiers Brettoneaux in April 1918. During his convalescence in Sydney he became acquainted with Mary Gilmore who encouraged him in his hobby of collecting autographed works by Australian authors. He corresponded with some of the leading literary figures of his times while bringing together his impressive collection of autographed copies of Australian literary works. He subsequently donated the collection to the Commonwealth National Library in 1937. In October 1943, in the midst of his work, Whelan died of a heart attack.