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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.

This site is to make the Campbell Howard Collection available online and openly accessible with the intent to encourage scholarship and practice of the plays. A growing collection of materials including manuscripts, programmes and playbills can be accessed from Research Data Australia.


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.


Related publication

The Campbell Howard Annotated index of Australian Plays 1920-1955, compiled and edited by Jack Bedson and Julian Croft. $30 (postage included). Order to: CALLTS, University of New England, ARMIDALE NSW 2351 AUSTRALIA.