|2014.0042 [GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE] |
|Date Range of Records:
|The Greer Archive has been made available because of its historical and research importance. Statements which form part of the collection are not made on behalf of the University and do not represent the University's views. It contains material that some researchers might find confronting. This includes: explicit language and images that reflect either the attitudes of the era in which the material was originally published or the views of the creators of the material but may not be considered appropriate today; names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in published and unpublished printed material, audio recordings and photographs; discussion and descriptions of sexual violence, medical conditions and treatment.
The General Correspondence series consists of 120 boxes of correspondence received by Germaine Greer between 1958 and 2014. This encompasses responses by the public to Greer's published works, film, television and radio appearances, approaches for work from newspapers, production companies and academics, invitations to conferences, exhibitions and book launches, and personal correspondence with friends and lovers. The series reflects the remarkable diversity of Greer's career, from scholar and teacher of English literature, to enfant terrible of the second wave feminists, to enthusiastic gardener and conservationist.
Correspondence is filed alphabetically by surname, organisation or subject. Files are labelled with the first two or three letters, for example Correspondence LON. Exceptions to this principle include instances where there is a large amount of correspondence from specific individuals or organisations, such as Margaret Fink, the Daily Telegraph and the BBC, and the 'Women' files, which between 1969 and 2008 collect by year correspondence relating to women's organisations such as the Women's Liberation Workshop, The Women's Press and The Women of the Year Luncheon. This method of arrangement can lead to some uncertainty as to the location of specific items of correspondence. An approach for a television appearance for example might be filed under the name of the production company, the individual making the approach, the subject the program is addressing or the name of the program. Press releases and correspondence accompanying books sent by publishers are generally filed by the title of the author, though some are filed by the name of the publishing house or the name of the sender. Exhibition invitations, catalogues and press releases for individual artists are generally filed under the name of the artist, though some are filed by gallery.
Correspondents are listed sequentially per item. Secretarial staff and literary agents acting on Greer's behalf have not been listed as correspondents. Library of Congress subject headings have been used to identify subjects of discussion within the correspondence. Where no suitable headings exist, non-standard headings have been used. Subjects have not been recorded in this field where correspondence is unsolicited, is unrelated to Greer's work and there is no evidence of engagement by the recipient. Due to Greer's public prominence there is a great deal of unsolicited correspondence including requests for donations and autographs, manuscripts and requests for advice regarding publication, and attempts to raise awareness of personal plights and issues.
A remarkable aspect of the series is that Greer has frequently kept record of her responses to correspondents. From 1970 to the mid 1980's these take the form of carbon copies of typewritten responses. From 1985 Greer began using a computer and word processor to respond to correspondence and placed printouts of these on file. Later copies of these responses are frequently printed on the reverse of recycled printouts from drafts of books such as Shakespeare's Wife and The Collected Works of Katherine Philips, the Matchless Orinda or transcriptions from manuscript sources, however there is a gap in the mid 1990's where responses were only kept in electronic form. Thermal faxes are also found during the 1980's and 1990's, frequently between media and literary agents. Acknowledgements of reader responses are frequently sent on postcards, often of works by women painters or the painting The Kongouro from New Holland by George Stubbs. Photocopies of these responses were then placed on file. Proposals for work are generally received via Greer's literary agents Aitken & Stone. Initial negotiations such as date, fee, word length and travel arrangements are conducted by the agent and then passed to Greer in batches for acceptance or dismissal. The General Correspondence series primarily contains approaches for work rejected or cancelled. Correspondence regarding projects that go ahead are generally found in other series' relating to the medium of work. Notable exceptions are for articles written for Playboy and Esquire, such as Seduction is a Four Letter Word (1973), My Mailer Problem (1971) and What Turns Women On? (1978). Folders for these publications contain extensive correspondence regarding commission, fees and copy editing. Marginalia and hand annotations are spread throughout the series. Often these take the form of instructions to Greer's secretary or literary agents, such as 'accept', 'acknowledge' or 'no fee no work'. Where correspondence should be filed is usually written on the top right corner. Directions with a 'nix' suffix (for example jacketnix, picnix, readnix) indicate that form refusals were sent (see also Greer's Home Thoughts column for the Independent 'Germaine Greer on Strangers in the Mail' 2014.0046.00287). Doodles and notes are also to be found at random throughout, including sketches, family trees for English poets and jotted notes for other projects.
The series contains hundreds of responses to The Female Eunuch from every decade since publication, however frequency of these letters peaks around 1971. These range from heartfelt gratitude, hate mail, complaints about the vocabulary and observations of errors in the text. The success of the book and Greer's subsequent prominence in the media led many women to write asking how to become involved in the women's liberation movement. The 1970's also sees correspondence regarding Greer's regular column in The Sunday Times, Greer's visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1972 including the Sydney Town Hall abortion debate and International Women's Day march, viewer responses to Greer's appearance on chat shows including the Phil Donahue Show and David Susskind Show, The Festival of Ideas debate with Norman Mailer at New York Town Hall (subsequently the subject of the documentary Town Bloody Hall), the Cambridge Union Debate with William F. Buckley and Greer's subsequent appearance on Firing Line (27 February 1973), and the two guest hosted episodes of the Dick Cavett Show on rape and abortion (viewer responses for these programs are also found in the Early Years series 2014.0044.00164 and 2014.0044.00165).
Publication of The Obstacle Race in 1980 prompted letters from or regarding women artists. Early 1980s correspondence often relates to University of Tulsa and The Tulsa Center for the Study of Women's Literature. These include letters with research students, approaches and submissions to Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, and correspondence with colleagues including Charlotte Stewart, Shari Benstock and Camille Naish regarding direction and operational matters such as administration of the Ellen Moers Fellowship. Also of note are responses to the Sunday Times serialisation of Sex and Destiny, which ran with the invitation to 'join the Germaine Greer debate'. These have been flagged with the terms Sex and Destiny, The Sunday Times and the name of the particular excerpt where it can be identified - 'Better No Sex than Bad Sex', 'Sex Without Gadgets' and 'Why Women Make Bad Mothers'. The late 80's sees responses to Greer's public appeal for information regarding her Father's family and Daddy, we hardly knew you.
Publication of The Change in 1991 produced a great deal of correspondence from women sharing their experience with menopause and the medical establishment. Also found in the 1990's are responses to Greer's Home Thoughts column in The Independent and The Stump Cross Roundabout column in The Oldie on subjects such as heritage apple varieties, the 'two fingered salute' (obscene gestures) and Mother Teresa.
The General Correspondence series also contains a vast amount of correspondence in response to Greer's Country Notebook column in the Sunday Telegraph between 1999 and 2005. These include advice on where to source carbon steel knives, photographs of English Bluebells in the wild and commiserations on the death of Greer's standard poodle Margot. Also found in this period are responses to The Whole Woman, Whitefella Jump Up, Greer's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother and correspondence regarding the Cave Creek Rainforest Rehabilitation Scheme.
Alongside the offers of work and reader responses are personal correspondence with friends and colleagues, including Clive James, film producer Margaret Fink, OZ magazine editors Felix Dennis and Richard Neville and feminist and civil rights activist Florynce Kennedy. Of note are the many letters spread throughout the series written by Greer while living in Tuscany, first at Il Palazzone in 1971, then later at her house Pianelli in Cortona between 1973 and 1994. These letters are often observational and poetic, describing struggles with the Italian postal service, cooking and gardening, neighbours including Jeffrey Smart, Lyndall Passerini and Claire Sterling, and observations regarding local politics and culture in Tuscany. Greer frequently invited artists, academics and writers to use the house, including writer Nicholas Shakespeare who wrote his first novel, The Vision of Elena Silves at Pianelli.|
|120 Units (20.4m)|
||Culture and the Arts, individuals
||Yes listed ONLINE