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Papers of Wilfred Burchett, 1953-1998 (bulk 1967-1983) [manuscript]
Bib ID 4925503
Format ManuscriptManuscript
Burchett, Wilfred, 1911-1983
Related Online
Access Conditions Available for research. Not for loan. 
Description [1953-1998] 
8.25 m. (55 boxes) 

MS Acc10.031 comprises papers documenting Wilfred Burchett's professional life as a journalist and non-fiction writer, including his legal battles to be re-issued with a passport after his British one was cancelled and during his Australian defamation case, as well as aspects of his personal life. The collection comprises correspondence, notes, draft articles and book manuscripts, press cuttings, research material, film and television proposals and scripts, financial papers, publications and photographs. The correspondence includes copies of Burchett's own letters; many of those addressed to his wife and family describe his activities in the field.

Some of the correspondents represented in the collection include Burchett's wife Vesselina (Vessa), Norodom Sihanouk, publishers, lawyers, Australian politicians including Gough Whitlam and Arthur Calwell, and celebrities writing in response to a petition supporting Burchett's campaign to be re-issued with a passport, such as Jane Fonda, Peter Ustinov, Graham Greene, Arthur Miller, Noam Chomsky and Vanessa Redgrave. Subjects covered in Burchett's notes, draft writings, research material and photographs include Vietnam, Cambodia (Kampuchea), China, Japan (Hiroshima), the CIA, Africa (Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia), mercenaries, Korea and Bulgaria. In addition, there are papers relating to, and a manuscript of, Burchett's second volume of autobiography, At the barricades (55 boxes).


Australian-born writer and journalist. Wilfred Graham Burchett travelled extensively throughout his life, acting at various times as a war and foreign correspondent as well as becoming the subject of many newspaper articles himself. Burchett's war reporting began in the Second World War, from New Caledonia, China and Japan. After the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima he was possibly the first Western journalist to report the effects of the atomic bombs on the Japanese population, and thereafter his political sympathies became anti-American and pro-Soviet. He subsequently travelled in and wrote about Eastern Europe, China and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Burchett's left-wing reporting attracted the attention of the United States, British and Australian governments. In 1955 Burchett's British passport was cancelled and the Menzies government refused his request for an Australian one. His attempts to be re-instated became the subject of the first volume of his memoirs, Passport (1969). A much-publicised court case in the 1970s in which Burchett sued a newspaper colleague, Jack Kane, for defamation led to his financial exile from Australia. Burchett subsequently covered conflicts in southern Africa and Cambodia. As well as countless newspaper articles, Burchett published more than thirty books, including a second volume of autobiography, At the barricades (1980). He died in Bulgaria in 1983.


Manuscript reference no.: MS Acc10.031.

Associated materials: Papers of Wilfred Burchett, 1946 MS Acc13.148.

Related Material Wilfred Burchett interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection; Located at; National Library of Australia Oral History collection ORAL TRC 1/494. 
Subjects Burchett, Wilfred, 1911-1983 -- Archives.  |  Journalists -- Australia -- Archives.  |  War correspondents -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Authors, Australian -- 20th century -- Archives.  |  Travel writers -- Australia -- Archives.  |  World politics -- 20th century.
Time Coverage 1953-1998 
Occupation Journalists.  |  War correspondents.  |  Authors.
Terms of Use Copying of Wilfred Burchett's copyright material permitted for research purposes. 


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    Unprocessed collection
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    Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalogue contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalogue should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written.