Campbell Howard Collection

Australian Plays in Manuscript

The nature of the Collection

The Campbell Howard Collection of Australian Plays in Manuscript provides a unique body of research material concerning Australian drama of the period 1920–55. It contains some three hundred plays in manuscript or typescript, together with published plays, theatre programmes, and correspondence and research files.


The collection was largely assembled by the late Campbell Howard in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Howard believed that the international success of Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1955) could not have sprung from a barren theatrical landscape. He began to hunt down manuscripts of Australian plays from the period 1920–55, looking for plays which had been performed by a reputable company or reviewed by reputable critics. By perseverance and tact, he built his collection, obtaining texts from playwrights, actors, drama companies, estate, and from relatives and friends of the dramatists.

A living collection

The Campbell Howard Collection continues to grow. The latest additions are manuscripts of fifteen Australian plays dating back to the 1920s. The plays were written by Millicent Sylvia Armstrong (1888–1973), two in collaboration with her sister Daphne. The manuscripts had been in the keeping of the family since Ms Armstrong's death and were donated by her nephew, Mr Peter Lightfoot of Brisbane. The plays have been catalogued and microfilmed for archival preservation. Photocopies are available for consultation by researchers.

Campbell Howard Digital Collection

A number of manuscripts, programmes and playbills from the Campbell Howard Collection have been digitised and is accessible through Research Data Australia.

Access to the Collection

The collection is located in the Karl Schmude Special Collections Room on Level 1 of Dixson Library.

For information on access to the Collection, see the Policy on Special Collections Access.