Vale Diana Gribble

The above photo is used with permission from Diana’s long-time colleague and friend, W.H. Chong

As co-founder of three publishing companies, Di Gribble had a profound effect on Australian literature and public commentary.

‘Diana Gribble was a legend in Australian publishing, having co-founded the McPhee Gribble imprint that published such ground-breaking works as Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip and Puberty Blues by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette’, said University Librarian Philip Kent.

Established in the mid-1970s, the Carlton-based McPhee Gribble introduced Australian readers to authors like Tim Winton, Murray Bail, Kaz Cooke and Martin Flanagan. Gribble’s business partner was Hilary McPhee.

The company was bought by Penguin in 1989 but Di Gribble’s remarkable publishing career continued.

In 1990 she and Eric Beecher co-founded the Text Media group that was later sold to Fairfax for A$70 million.

In 2003 Gribble and Beecher created an online publishing group, Private Media Partners, that now owns six web publications including the influential political commentary site

‘The University of Melbourne Library is indeed fortunate to hold the archives of McPhee Gribble and also its predecessor organisation, Sisters Publishing Ltd’, Philip Kent said. ‘These archives are a significant part of our holdings of feminist publishers’ records.’

The McPhee Gribble company archives are held in the University of Melbourne Archives. This important collection contains author files, business documents, press cuttings and some production material such as artwork, page layouts, galleys and page proofs.

Sisters Publishing began in 1979 as the ‘valiant idea’ of five Melbourne publishers: Hilary McPhee, Diana Gribble, Joyce Nicholson, Anne O’Donovan and Sally Milner. They decided Sisters would publish quality works ‘for women, by women and about women’.

To avoid prohibitive distribution and storage costs, Sisters was conceived as a mail-order book club with a quarterly subscription-only newsletter offering Sisters’ own publications and ‘the best feminist books from publishers here and overseas’, all at discount rates.

The Sisters Publishing archive is the complete record of the company and documents all of its activities.

For details of the Sisters Publishing and McPhee Gribble archives, browse the ‘collections’ section of the University Archives website.

Researchers can access the McPhee Gribble and Sisters Publishing archives via the Cultural Collections Reading Room or by contacting the University of Melbourne Archives.

Related links:

Catalogue details:

Mcphee Gribble Pty Ltd [-]

1. Author files (1975-1990) for all McPhee Gribble authors include correspondence between authors, agents, editors, publishers; contract negotiations; production planning documents; manuscripts; royalty statements and other material. 2. Administration files (1975-1990) include contracts; directors’ files; minutes of sales and marketing meetings; publishing policy documents; business plans, balance sheets and financial records; copies of outward correspondence; subject files (1976-1990); rejected manuscript files; some production material including art work, page layout, galley and page proofs. 3. Presscuttings of book reviews, interviews and articles on authors.

108 m. (419 boxes, 3 cartons, 16 volumes).
Cassette tapes
Business, organisations

Grainger Day – 19 October

Join us at the Grainger Museum and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music for an exciting program of events:

11.30; 12.00; 12.30; 1.00: Live performances in the Museum
1.30: Grainger concert in Melba Hall (MH)
2.30: Grainger masterclass with Penelope Thwaites (MH)
4.00: Demonstration of the Duo-Art—Grainger’s own
reproducing piano—in the Museum
5.15: Lecture-recital by Penelope Thwaites (MH) followed by refreshments

Wednesday 19 October, 11.30am – 7.00pm
Grainger Museum &
Melbourne Conservatorium of Music
The University of Melbourne
Royal Parade, Parkville VIC
Free admission – no prior bookings

Above: Percy Grainger’s Weber Duo-Art piano (c. 1932) on display at the Grainger Museum (photograph by Brian Allison).

Perservering with Percy (Grainger)

An evening with John Amis, Tuesday 11 October

British broadcaster, author and critic, John Amis is presenting an anniversary lecture which draws on his own historic interview with Percy Grainger for the Grainger Museum.

Tuesday 11 October, 6.00 – 7.00pm
Leigh Scott Room, first floor, Baillieu Library
University of Melbourne
Free admission
About John Amis


Six weeks in a bank was enough for him to decide to live by and with music. Working with orchestras (London Philharmonic, Symphony and Royal Philharmonic), organising concerts for Myra Hess at the National Gallery and for Michael Tippett, whose secretary and friend he was, concert manager for Thomas Beecham, music critic in London for The Scotsman, organiser of the Summer School of Music with William Glock at Bryanston and Dartington for 34 years, broadcaster on radio and TV for 40, during which time he interviewed 500 of the most famous or interesting (or both) musicians from Hindemith to Bernstein, from Cage to Swann, from Stravinsky to Stockhausen. Amis featured in the radio and TV quiz show ‘My Music’, still heard on Australian radio even though it started in 1968.

His books include an autobiography A miscellany, an anthology Words about Music and My Life in Music 1945–2000, articles and profiles, A Photographer at the Aldeburgh Festival (Nigel Luckhurst) and Musicians on Camera (Lelia Goehr). In The Gramophone David Cairns wrote of ‘My Music’ that ‘Amis is that rare phenomenon, a brilliant talker, mimic and story-teller who writes as vividly as he speaks … the book is monument to one of the most remarkable figures in our musical life.’

Percy Grainger (1882–1961)

The Australian born composer was also a pianist with an international career. His records of Chopin, Grieg, Brahms and his own music are still available. Grainger is the only well-known composer most of whose oeuvre is derived from folk material. Benjamin Britten said that Grainger was an arranger of genius.

Above: Portrait of John Amis by June Mendoza AO CBE.

Write of Fancy: The Golden Cockerel Press

Exhibition: Leigh Scott Gallery, Baillieu Library, 8 August to 16 October 2011

As part of the Month of Print, Write of Fancy: The Golden Cockerel Press showcases the Library’s exceptional collection of Golden Cockerel books from the English fine press. The Golden Cockerel Press, which operated between 1920 and 1960, was one of the longest running private presses, surviving major historical events such as the Depression and World War 2. One of the reasons for its longevity was the vision of its three owners, each of whom had a distinctive influence, which can been seen in the eclectic range, comprising of 211 books. With an example of at least one binding of all of the books produced by the Press, the collection of Golden Cockerel Press books at the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne is probably the only complete set in Australia.

Eric Gill, Venus and Cupid with the Golden Cockerel, 1928, Frontispiece from volume 1 of Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, London: Golden Cockerel Press, 1929 Special Collections, Baillieu Library

John Buckland Wright, Tailpiece for John Keats, Endymion: A poetic romance, London: Golden Cockerel Press, 1947, Special Collections, Baillieu Library

The Home

The Home: An Australian Quarterly was first published in February 1920. Published by Art in Australia Ltd, The Home’s target market was Australian middle-class women readers. It was established in an effort to help underwrite the publication of Art in Australia and other publishing projects. Initially produced by a team of editors, including Sydney Ure Smith (art editor), Bertram Stevens (literary editor) and Julia Lister (fashion editor), The Home suffered early losses, but finally provided the financial stability needed by Art in Australia Ltd.

The Home is known for its promotion of graphic art and advertising in Australian magazines, particularly the influence of its magazine covers. It proclaimed to be ‘modern’, which it was to an extent, but ignored movements such as cubism, futurism and surrealism. It did promote women in a more modern context. The magazine continued into the 1940s, but found strong competition from new magazines like Vogue and Fashion and Society. It finally ceased publication  in 1942.

Although it was not a literary magazine, The Home published the work of many of Australia’s leading writers. Contributors included Dorothea Mackellar, Furnley Maurice, Nettie Palmer, Norman Lindsay, Lionel Lindsay, Joan Lindsay, Kenneth Slessor, Mary Gilmore, Arthur Adams and David Unaipon. Katharine Susannah Prichard’s novel The Wild Oats of Han was serialised in The Home during 1926 and 1927.

The cover image of this issue, vol. 2, no. 4, December 1, 1921, is by Bertha Sloane, an artist and cartoonist. She trained in commercial art in Sydney with Albert Collins and worked under him at Smith and Julius art studio, part of the Ure Smith companies.

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