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More information on Spence

 Primary sources

 Archival material

The State Library of South Australia holds the papers of Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910) as Private Record Group (PRG) 88, comprising 1.8 metres of material, covering the period in her life 1866 to 1910. The papers comprise manuscripts of sermons, articles written for publication, lectures, scrapbooks, the text of an unpublished novel, literary manuscripts and reminiscences of and by Miss Spence. A series list itemises the letters and sermons. Because of the fragility of the original material, the originals are not available for public use. There is a microfilm set for public use. Copyright conditions for unpublished manuscripts apply.

Catherine Helen Spence Memorial Appeal Sub-Committee (SRG 477), comprising records of the committee 1981-1986 comprising correspondence, papers relating to the sculpture commission and casting, letters accompanying donations to the appeal, newspaper cuttings and a few printed items about C.H. Spence

Catherine Helen Spence Scholarship Awards (D 6066(Misc)), comprising notes compiled by E.R. Fellows on the Catherine Helen Scholarship Awards with names of holders of the scholarship from1912-1977.

Other related material can be found on the Archival database itself.

 Oral history recordings

There are no known recordings of the voice of Catherine Helen Spence. However, the J.D. Somerville Oral History Collection does have a recording in which the interviewee remembers her. This is an interview with Launcelot Crompton (1896-1998) concerning the Unitarian Children's Library (OH 405/1). [Catherine Helen Spence was a member of the Unitarian Church.] Interview with Juliana Bayfield recorded on 16 April 1997. No access until project is completed. To see a summary of this project do a WORD search for Unitarian Children's Library Summary.

Speech by Susan Magarey given on 19 December 1994 at the launch of the book Tenacious of the past: the recollections of Helen Brodie in which she talks about Catherine Helen Spence (D 7235(T))


A number of photographs of Spence are held in the Library. These can be viewed on the Mortlock Library of South Australiana database.

 Major biographical works

Catherine Helen Spence. A study and an appreciation. By Jeanne F. Young. The Lothian Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd. Melbourne and Sydney. 1937. pp. 211.

Catherine Spence. By Janet Cooper. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1972. pp. 30. Series: Great Australians.

In her own name. A history of women in South Australia from 1836. By Helen Jones. Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 1994. pp. 428.

Unbridling the tongues of women. By Susan Magarey. Hale and Iremonger. Sydney. 1985. pp. 240.

 Electronic information and databases

Women & Politics in South Australia, a State Library of South Australia website with a menu option for Catherine Helen Spence.

Full text of Catherine Helen Spence's autobiography on SETIS, the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service at the University of Sydney Library. Its Australian literature database gives access to the full text of some key Australian literary works.

Other sources of interest are brought together in South Australiana factsheets prepared by the State Library of South Australia:

South Australian Creative Women Writers database: a collaboration with Flinders University of South Australia. This has an excellent short biography.

The State Library's catalogues and databases provide further background information, especially the Mortlock Library of South Australiana database and the Archival database. The Library catalogue details major relevant published material.

The catalogues of the other state libraries in Australia, and the National Library of Australia can also be searched via a link to other libraries and archives.

There are several current electronic databases which are a valuable source for contemporary literary criticism and biographical material on Australian writers, such as APAIS (Australian Public Affairs Information Service) and Austlit. These can be accessed at workstations in The State Library of South Australia and in other major libraries.



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