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Date Range of Records: 1957-2005
- Greer, Professor Germaine [29 January 1939-]
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appropriate today; names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in published and unpublished printed material, audio recordings and photographs; discussion and descriptions of sexual violence, medical conditions and treatment. This series holds papers relating to Germaine Greer's early work as an academic, a performer and a writer (of essays, journalism, speeches, plays, film scripts, poems and letters). It includes summaries, chapter drafts, notes, a synopsis and a statement of intention for The Female Eunuch and evidence of how the book transformed the life of its author and of its readers as well. Letters, appointment diaries, financial records, inventories, telegrams, newspaper and magazine clippings and political ephemera document Greer's private life in England (especially her London homes at Cambridge Gardens and Westbourne Terrace) and Italy (notably Il Palazzone 1970-1972 and her house at Pianelli 1973-1994) and her extensive post-Eunuch travels to the United States, the Bahamas, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, France, Holland and elsewhere. The earliest records in this series (and, indeed, the archive) are Germaine Greer's lecture notes and reading notes from 1957 when she was a second-year student at the University of Melbourne. The most recent are about Lysistrata, an adaptation of Aristophanes' 411BC comedy about a sex strike staged by women who wanted to end the Peloponnesian War. Kenneth Tynan asked Greer to write the script for the National Theatre, London in 1971 and the play was eventually performed at the Battersea Arts Centre in 1999. The files have the titles that Germaine Greer gave them and the archivist has rehoused the records into acid-free folders. Loose material has been placed in folders labelled with the location in which it was found [eg Drawer 159]. Material found in unlabelled folders has been named by the archivist and indicated in the list by [square brackets]. The arrangement of these records is idiosyncratic; at times it is circular rather than linear. For instance, the series is bookended by papers relating to two of Greer’s London houses. Records about her place at Westbourne Terrace (1979-1985) are filed early in the series while records about Cambridge Gardens (1973-1978) are at the end. In between, Greer’s system of arrangement sees records relating to her trips to Ethiopia (1985-1989) filed next to publicity material about her book Sex and Destiny (1985) and a cache of poems (1959-1970). Likewise, administration files from Greer’s time at Tulsa University, Oklahoma, where she was the founder-director of the Tulsa Centre for the Study of Women’s Literature (1979-1983) are co-located with files relating to her work at Warwick University. Researchers can expect to find fragments of other series here too, notably the Print and Correspondence series. Greer or Greer's assistants have occasionally filled in the gaps in the Early Years series by acquiring things such as a photocopy of The Sun Youth Art Show Melbourne catalogue (1954) in which Greer was an entrant or by inserting correspondence, such as a 2010 letter from film director Albie Thoms, into a folder about his 1963 film It droppeth as the gentle rain... Two folders – one administration, the other correspondence – from Warwick University (1967-1974) have been relocated to the Early Years series from the Major Works one. Aside from this small intervention, the records have been catalogued as they were received from Greer’s drawers at her home in Stump Cross, Essex. Even when the records are filed chronologically, researchers can expect odd juxtapositions. Greer filed scholarly records next to records that document her writing for the underground press, her sketches for Cambridge University s Footlights Dramatic Club, her TV and film work and her lively social life. Handwritten notes for 16 lectures on Shakespearean comedy (delivered at the University of Warwick in 1969) are in the same folder as a copy of OZ 19 (1969). That issue of the underground magazine carried Greer s article on rock groupies. A few folders on, are the earliest drafts of the work that would become The Female Eunuch. This eclectic arrangement reflects the chaos and excitement of Greer s life between 1968-1971. One day she would be delivering a lecture on Shakespeare, the next she was hamming it up with an electric guitar in a photo-shoot to illustrate her piece on group sex. Germaine Greer arranged her archive in drawers in filing cabinets in two different locations: the office and the hutch. A 'Catalogue of works of Germaine Greer by the author, including selected correspondence 1957-1997' explains how the papers were arranged then by year and housed in drawers labelled by format or, in the case of the Australia drawers, by content or context. The most common early year drawer labels are: academic; journalism; Australia; Footlights; author; television; radio; and correspondence. Germaine Greer described selected items in this 1997 catalogue. Where possible, these descriptions have been retained here and then expanded upon. Greer used the word holograph to describe records created in her handwriting. In the immediate aftermath of The Eunuch's publication in the United States in 1971, Greer was inundated with fan mail she was a diligent and generous correspondent, as well as a meticulous record keeper (she kept the letters she received along with carbon copies of her replies). While most of these exchanges are in the 120-box correspondence series (2014.0042), this series also contains many letters, including Italian-language letters between Germaine Greer and Federico Fellini (1975-1988); 500 letters from people who watched two episodes of The Dick Cavett Show hosted by Greer in June 1971 (on abortion and on rape); letters between Greer and Kenneth Tynan about Greer's script for Lysistrata (1971-72); letters between Greer and other editors of Suck first European sexpaper (1971-1973); letters between Greer and Marsha Rowe, co-founder of Spare Rib; letters and a synopsis exchanged between Greer and British publisher Tony Godwin (1973) about A Problem of Waste (female creativity), an unrealised book project; and Greer's 1974 correspondence with the directors of major European and American art galleries on the topic of women painters in their collections and why the women's art was not being exhibited. The Female Eunuch turned Greer into one of the most famous feminists in the world and this series contains evidence of the many ways Greer used her celebrity to back diverse feminist causes. Greer had talked about using some of the profits from The Eunuch to set up a feminist newspaper. This did not happen. Instead, Greer helped fund Spare Rib (the archive contains a dummy of the first issue dated May 1972), she was actively involved in Women in Media, a UK based group for feminist journalists, whose membership included Mary Stott, the first editor of the Guardian's women's pages and she campaigned for women to be admitted to male-only press clubs in Australia. The series contains correspondence Carol Downer of the Feminist Women's Health Center in Los Angeles and Julia Freebury, the secretary of Abortion Law Reform Association in Australia. Greer helped the women who set up the Women's History Research Center in Berkeley and other feminist archives and libraries. Before the Female Eunuch, Greer already had three prominent but quite distinct careers underway. She was an academic, a television celebrity and a journalist. Her development as an academic is the career most fully documented here. Greer was a full-time student from 1956 until 1967. In 1963, she also taught at Marrickville Junior Girls High School. While she studied, Greer also supported herself by waitressing at various restaurants, including Goldies (in South Yarra, Melbourne) and various Sydney establishments. A Teacher's College Studentship helped to fund her BA Hons in French and English Language and Literature at the University of Melbourne (1956-1959). From 1960-62 she was enrolled in a MA at the University of Sydney, graduating with first class honours and a thesis on the Byron's satiric verse. In 1963, she was a senior tutor in English at Sydney and from 1964-1967, Greer was a Commonwealth Scholar the University of Cambridge. She was awarded her PhD, on 'the Ethic of Love and Marriage in Shakespeare's Early Comedies' in 1968. By then she was a lecturer in English at Warwick University, a post she held until 1973. Greer has kept lecture notes and reading notes and essays from each of the universities she studied at. The papers – which contain Greer's notes in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Latin – are evidence of the enormous physical and intellectual effort involved in gaining a world-class humanities education in a pre-internet era. Greer's ability with languages is notable and most evident in seven notebooks that Greer kept in 1965 as she was beginning her doctoral research in to Shakespeare's early comedies. Each notebook has a name and the names reference the places Greer worked, including the British Museum, the Marciana in Venice and Oxford's Bodleian. The papers trace an intellectual genealogy. A teenaged Greer took notes from the works of M.C. Bradbrook. A mid-twenties Greer sat in lectures delivered by Bradbrook, the first woman to become a professor of English at Cambridge. Bradbrook eventually examined Greer's PhD. Along with Greer's Warwick lecture notes and her journalism for the underground press; these academic papers contain many sources and arguments that shaped The Female Eunuch. Greer's work early work as performer is documented in papers about university revues at Sydney (where she performed with Clive James, Mungo MacCallum and others) and the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club. Greer was one of the first women to be admitted and the series contains sketches written and performed by Greer and Clive James. Greer appeared in …it droppeth as the gentle rain', a short film directed by Albie Thoms and Bruce Beresford, 1963 (subsequently banned) and from 1967 she was working in television series for the British Broadcasting Corporation. The series contains contracts between Greer and the BBC for a sketch comedy series called Twice a Fortnight. It was produced by Tony Palmer and Bill Oddie, Terry Jones and Michael Palin were among the writers and cast. The Who, Cream and Moody Blues also appeared and the first episode was filmed on location at Stonehenge. A single reel of 16mm film, an outtake from Granada TV's Nice Time (ep 26, 1969) and starring Greer and Kenny Everett was removed from this series and placed in series 2014.0041. The papers contain traces of other roles, now little known, including a stint with George Lazenby, as he appears in his new film, Universal Soldier, with Germaine Greer, who plays his radical land-lady. There is also evidence of appearances on American TV (Dick Cavett show) and Germaine Greer Specials, Trans Media for Channel 10, 4 programs on Courtship and Marriage; The Australian Family; Women At Work; Australian Sexual Morality (1973). Further evidence of Greer’s screen work is in the Television series (2017.0002). Greer's development as a professional writer is represented here via her journalism for Suck, OZ, Forum, Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times and Private Eye (as gardening columnist Rosie Blight). Greer wrote a treatment for a women's Western. She rewrote part of Fellini's script for Casanova (1976) and wrote a screenplay for Acts of Love (1976). A notable piece of writing is a handwritten draft for talk on Sydney Libertarians, 10 quarto leaves torn from spiral bound book for The Strongest Influence in My Life, Germaine Greer presenter, broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29 May 1975. Greer's diaries from this period reveal a life in which seemingly incongruous activities butt up against each other: she would travel to Manchester to film Nice Time with Kenny Everett, she would deliver a lecture on Shakespeare and she would have dinner with DJ John Peel in London. The sparse diary entries are another way researchers can begin to explore the connections between Greer’s diverse professional and personal lives in the 1970s and early 1980s. Key records from this series have been digitised and available online. These are: the Female Eunuch draft and synopsis; Greer’s PhD typescript and 22 other records documenting Greer’s university years and her first scholarship on William Shakespeare; and the Milk outtake, featuring Greer and Kenny Everett.
19 Units (3.06m)
Collection Category: Culture and the Arts, individuals
Access Conditions: Access: Restricted Some records digitised and available online via Search Digitised Items at
Finding Aids: Yes listed ONLINE
Online ListingGREER, Professor Germaine - Early Years 2014~0044
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