Brissenden collection


For more information on the 'Brissenden collection' search or browse the ANU Library Catalogue.

This collection of over 1,450 volumes is being developed as a memorial to R.F. Brissenden (1928-1991), one of Australia's best known literary figures and a former Reader of English at ANU. The collection field is Australian literature, with an emphasis on first and signed editions.

Formally launched in 1991, the Brissenden collection has expanded significantly over the years due to large donations by the Friends of the ANU Library, the University Co-operative Bookshop and Colin Steele, Emeritus Fellow and former ANU Librarian.

The signed books are held in the Menzies Library Rare Books Room. Items can be requested from the Rare Book Collection and a full list of items can be found in the Library Catalogue.

About the Brissenden Collection

The Brissenden Collection was formally launched in 1991 by Rodney Hall, the then Chair of the Australia Council.

R.F. Brissenden (1928-1991) was one of Australia's best-known literary figures. In the course of his life he was Reader in English at ANU; the first literary editor of the The Australian; Chairman of the Literature Board of the Australia Council; author of a number of books of poetry, criticism, and crime fiction, and advisor and friend to many writers, publishers and booksellers. The Friends of the ANU Library and his personal friends created this collection to commemorate his life and work.

The Collection comprises both signed and unsigned copies of books by Australian authors, as well as older items of Australian literature.

The Collection did not significantly increase until 2010 when the University Co-op Bookshop donated the signed books associated with the ANU Meet the Author Events in the two decades since 1990.

Colin Steele, the former University Librarian and Convenor of the ANU Meet the Author Events since 1986, also donated forty books from his signed collection at the time of the Co-op Bookshop donation. Mr Steele has played a significant role in both the ANU and Canberra communities, organising the ANU Literary Events since their inception in the 1980s. These events have allowed thousands of Canberrans to hear their favourite authors speak on campus each year.

In March 2012, Colin Steele made a substantial donation of over 200 of his signed Australian authors collection, with accompanying manuscripts where relevant. Significant complete or near complete signed collections included Bryce Courtenay; Morris West; David Foster, and Colleen McCullough. Courtenay also annotated many of the copies of his works to reflect the history and settings of the novels.

In April 2012, the University Co-op Bookshop donated over 400 books signed by their authors at ANU Meet the Author Events over the last 20 years. Among the volumes are works by bestselling authors Jared Diamond and Jeffrey Archer, as well as more specialised academic works.