National Library of Australia

You must be logged in to Tag Records
Papers of Kenneth Slessor, 1815-1971 (bulk 1917-1971) [manuscript]
Bib ID 2294073
Format ManuscriptManuscript, OnlineOnline
Slessor, Kenneth, 1901-1971
Online Versions
Related Online
Access Conditions Part available for research; part not available for research. Not for loan. 
Description [1815-1971] 
4.74 m. (23 boxes) + 1 fol. box. 

MS 3020 comprises correspondence, literary manuscripts, notebooks, autobiographical material, newspaper reviews and leaders by Kenneth Slessor, reviews by others of his work, photographs, and war diaries and despatches. The correspondents include Geoffrey Blainey, Harry H. Cox, Beatrice Davis, R.D. FitzGerald, Dame Mary Gilmore, H.M. Green, Jill Hellyer, R. Guy Howarth, Herbert Jaffa, C.J. Koch, Jack Lindsay, Norman Lindsay, Hugh McCrae, Kenneth MacKenzie, Tom Inglis Moore, Frank Moorhouse, Les Murray, Grace Perry, Hal Porter, Roland Robinson, David Rowbotham, Clement Semmler, Douglas Stewart, Dal Stivens, Kylie Tennant, Francis Webb and Derek A. Whitelock. There are also manuscripts of 28 poems by other poets, including W. Hart-Smith, Jack Lindsay, Phil Lindsay, Kenneth Mackenzie, Hugh McCrae and David Rowbotham. Also, Commonwealth Literary Fund and National Literary Board of Review files documenting Slessor's work as a member (23 boxes, 1 fol. box).


Journalist, editor and author. Kenneth Adolf Slessor was born in Orange, New South Wales, in 1901. He joined the Sun newspaper in 1919 as a cadet journalist. Poems published that year in the Bulletin, Smith's weekly and The triad illustrated Slessor's interest in satire and poetic imagery. His early poems were influenced by the artist, Norman Lindsay. Slessor's first anthology was Thief of the Moon (1924) followed by Earth-Visitors (1926), illustrated by Norman Lindsay. Following brief associations with Vision, a literary quarterly, the Herald and Punch, he returned to the Sydney Sun in 1926. From 1927 to 1940, Slessor was with Smith's weekly when he wrote most of his major poetry and light verse. Regarded as his finest poem, Five bells, an elegiac meditation on the drowning of Joe Lynch in 1927, was published in Five bells: XX poems (1939) with drawings by Lindsay.

A war correspondent from 1940 to 1944, Slessor returned to the Sun and then to the Daily telegraph in 1957, where he remained until his death. One hundred poems (1944), which with additions in 1957 became Poems and selected poems, was the book for which he was best known. He served on the board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund from 1953-1971. Slessor died in Sydney in 1971. His stature as a poet has gradually grown with the release of a number of posthumous anthologies, his war diaries and his writings, as well as critical studies of his poetry.


Manuscript reference no.: MS 3020.

Also available online

Cited In

Guide to collections of manuscripts relating to Australia, C135.

Subjects Slessor, Kenneth, 1901-1971 -- Archives.  |  National Literary Board of Review.  |  Commonwealth Literary Fund.  |  Journalists -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Authors, Australian -- 20th century -- Archives.  |  Poets, Australian -- 20th century -- Archives.  |  Australian poetry -- 20th century.
Time Coverage 1815-1971 
Occupation Journalists.  |  Authors.  |  Poets.
Other authors/contributors McCuaig, Ronald, 1908-1993, Ballad of bloodthirsty Bessie and other poems
Exhibited Exhibited: "Treasures Gallery", National Library of Australia, 7 October 2011 - 15 December 2012. 

In the Library

Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. To learn more about how to request items watch this short online video Help Video.

Details Collect From
MS 3020 Special Collections Reading Room
Access details ... more

Order a copy

- Copyright or permission restrictions may apply. We will contact you if necessary.

Help Video To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video Help Video.
close Can I borrow items from the Library?

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

You can view this on the NLA website.

close What can I get online?

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

You can view this on the NLA website.

close Can I get copies of items from the Library?

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

You can view this on the NLA website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags
Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Please also be aware that you may see certain words or descriptions in this catalogue which reflect the author’s attitude or that of the period in which the item was created and may now be considered offensive.