Guide to the papers of Charles and Ethel Bean




The papers of Charles and Ethel (Effie) Bean comprise records documenting various aspects of their lives. Charles' early life, particularly his education in England, is represented through photograph albums, notebooks and sketches. Diaries of their travels, 1924 and 1951, personal correspondence, 1920-1954, records relating to the purchase and running of their home 'Clifton' and photographs document Charles and Effie's life following the First World War and until his death in 1968. There are a number of files of correspondence relating to Charles' publications. Charles' varied personal interests such as town planning in Sydney, the League of Nations, and gardening are also represented in the collection. The records created after 1968 are primarily biographical and commemorative material relating to Charles' life, including sympathy cards and letters sent to Effie following his death. The collection also contains some diaries, notebooks and photographs of Charles' family members. The series containing personal correspondence is restricted at the request of the family. Charles Bean bequeathed the contents of his study to the Australian War Memorial and this collection is a part of that bequest. Other material from the bequest was incorporated into the Memorial's Official Records collection, and Military Heraldry collections. An interim item list was made at the time the material was transferred to the Memorial in 1991.

SERIES 1: Family Diaries, 1885-1951. This series comprises diaries written by Charles Bean and his father Edwin Bean. The diary by Edwin Bean vividly documents his experiences in New Zealand in the summer of 1885-1886 and his cruise to Europe in March 1886. This section of the diary is undated. Diary entries dated 4 March to 28 April recount a trip from Ceylon to Italy via the Suez Canal. A substantial part is devoted to describing the attractions of Italy and includes drawings, poetry and Italian words and phrases. Charles' diaries matter-of-factly describe, in detail, his and Effie's holidays. Three diaries written between 9 July and 27 August, 1924 relate to their holiday in England. Of note in the second diary is an account by Bean of his life from 1876-1914 written for Effie in August 1924 while he was in Kings College Hospital. The first diary for 1951 (21 March to 21 April) contains detailed entries relating to the family's voyage to England on RMS Maloja and a stopover in India. It also includes reflections on the Crete campaign of the Second World War. In the diary of a trip to Europe, 3 September to 16 September 1951, Bean documents their brief visits to Belgium, Germany, Austria and Venice. At times he assumes a reflective tone rather than describing their activities. It includes impressions of the bomb damage in German cities and the social and political situation in Germany. Folded into the diary are travel brochures, a hand-drawn calendar for their trip and two typed letters by Bean, August 1951, addressed to Jock, Tig and Dorothy relating Bean and Effie's travel experiences. Although the title on the cover of the diary includes """"Paris, Battlefields and Cemeteries"""" there are no entries relating to these subjects.; SERIES 2: Personal Correspondence, 1920-1954. This series comprises correspondence predominantly between Charles and Ethel Bean but also letters to them from their nieces and other relatives; SERIES 3: General Correspondence, 1927-1981. This series comprises correspondence between Charles and Effie and a range of other correspondents. A substantial part of this series is sympathy letters and cards, 1968-1971, sent to Effie following the death of Charles. Correspondents include relatives, friends, business colleagues and organisations such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Commissioner of Police, Angus and Robertson Ltd, the Australian Journalists Association, the Returned Services League and the Australian National University. The series also includes correspondence with the Prime Minister's Department, 1955-1961, relating to an honorarium offered to Bean for his services to the Commonwealth and the continuation of this for Effie after Charles' death in 1968. There is range of correspondence to both Charles and Effie regarding the publication of Bean's work. They predominantly relate to re-publications of Charles work and their popularity. Also included is correspondence to Effie providing her with copies of documents written about Charles and his work.The arrangement in this series follows the original order in which the Bean family maintained them; SERIES 4: Sketchbooks and Sketches, c.1890-c.1914. This series comprises two sketchbooks and loose sketches executed by Charles Bean. The majority of the sketches are undated but appear to cover the period from his childhood until the First World War. A small number of the sketches illustrate a short story and are done in a naive style, suggesting they were done when Bean was younger. The predominant medium is pen and ink on paper but the collection also contains pastels, pencil sketches and some water colours on paper. People are the main focus of Bean's work, often drawn in caricature, with ships and military related scenes also featuring. Some of the sketches appear to have been done for publication as they have instructions for alterations of colour and the size of the image written on them. The collection includes a printed version of one of Bean's sketches. One folder consists entirely of pen and ink images Bean produced to accompany his manuscript Impressions of a new chum, which he wrote in the early 1900s. In this series Bean primarily depicts people through the eyes of someone returning to Australia after a long absence. Some scenic pictures are also included. Most of the images for these illustrations are captioned; SERIES 5: Personal Interests, 1929-1979. This series comprises files of notes, correspondence, newspaper cuttings and leaflets compiled by Charles Bean on various topics as well as individual items of interest to him. One file is labelled Town Planning and consists of documents, 1937-1939, relating to Bean's involvement with the Town and Country Planning Institute of NSW. Documents such as an invitation by the Institute to Bean to become a member of the organisation, 1936, the Town and Country Planning Bill, 1937 (annotated by Bean), and papers relating to the campaign to introduce a bill into Parliament implementing town and country planning, 1939, are included in this file. It also contains documents relating to the Australian Group for International Reconstruction. It has correspondence to Bean from the Convenor of the Group, draft and published statements by the group, 1944, Proposals for International Security, 1944, and a Report to Members (undated). The material relating to Clifton College includes a notebook, 1929, with minutes and accounts kept by Bean while secretary for the Old Cliftonians NSW Branch, and information about Clifton for prospective students, c. 1979. There is also a file on gardening compiled by Bean, 1956-1968, and a file of miscellaneous items such as an annotated copy of a Speech on Defence Policy, 1907, by the Honourable Alfred Deakin, MP, Prime Minister and newspaper cuttings on the proposed closure of Lady Franklin's Museum, Hobart, 1935-1936; SERIES 6: Family Papers, 1952-1971. This series comprises a range of material relating to the household of Charles and Effie Bean. It includes correspondence, plans and legal documents relating to their purchase and renovation of their property 'Clifton', Sydney. There are two address books used by Bean and one unused address book. Files compiled by Bean include information on electrical lights, power points and fuses and insurance documents for their car and television. Two files of taxation documents, 1964 and 1967, include such things as bank statements, receipts, and records of income. There is also unused stationery, including letterhead paper from 'Clifton'; SERIES 7: Notebooks, c1880-1951. This series comprises notebooks maintained by Charles Bean, his father Edwin Bean, and uncle, Willoughby John Bean . 'Excerpta Poetica', written by Willoughby Bean, contains handwritten poems, by various poets. There is a brief biographical note by Charles written inside the cover in 1954. The notebooks written by Edwin Bean relate to some of his areas of interest such as Roman Law, European History and Logic. All are undated except 'Biographies of Statesmen, 10.10.08'. The only dated notebook written by Charles was used for a project commissioned by the BBC regarding immigration, 1951. Indexed with topics such as Birth Rates, Irish Emigration, and Effects in Australia, this is the most detailed notebook. Observations on the passengers and Captain of the migrant ship 'Cameronia' and brief notes comparing the British and Australians are the topics covered in the other notebooks; SERIES 8: Albums and Photographs, 1893-1967. This series comprises albums, framed photographs and 35mm transparencies. The albums and framed photographs particularly focus on Clifton College and Brentwood School, primarily group photographs of Charles Bean's class and sporting and drama groups from the period 1900-1913. The 35mm transparencies are predominantly of family members and the Australian War Memorial; SERIES 9: Miscellaneous Papers, 1896-1985. This series comprises a range of miscellaneous papers collected and retained by Charles Bean. It contains booklets of information about the Australian Journalists' Association, and the Far West Children's Seaside Health Scheme, The Papua and New Guinea volunteer riflesand The case for an Australian rural university prepared by The Riverine Councils' University League, 1953. A script for the play The wife of Uriah by Erskine Crawford is included with a letter (undated) to Bean from Eileen Egan encouraging him to keep this copy of the play. Also in this series are a number of maps of various areas of New South Wales and information leaflets on motoring. The remainder of the collection consists mainly of newspaper cuttings and short stories collected between 1896 and 1916 by Bean's father Edwin.

Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean was born on 18 November 1879 at Bathurst, New South Wales, and was the eldest of three sons of Edwin and Lucy Bean. Charles entered All Saints' Preparatory School in 1886 where his father was headmaster. In 1889 poor health forced his father to resign and he took the family to England. For two years the Beans spent summer in Oxford and winter in Brussels, where Charles learnt French and drawing. In 1891 Charles' father became headmaster of Brentwood School in Essex, which his own father had attended. Charles was a pupil there in 1891-94 and then entered Clifton College where he studied from 1894-1897. It was at Clifton that Bean acquired a real interest in literature, in the classics and cricket. In 1898 Bean won a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford where he studied Classics, particularly enjoying history. During this period he modified his writing style because he 'determined never, if possible, to write a sentence which could not be understood by, say a housemaid of average intelligence.' Following Oxford he applied for the Indian Civil Service but, graduating with second class honours, was not accepted. Instead he studied law, being called to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 1903. He taught briefly at the Brentwood School before travelling to Teneriffe, Canary Islands, as a tutor. In 1904 he returned to Australia and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar that year and worked as an associate to Justice Sir William Owen. Waiting for clients, he worked as assistant master at Sydney Grammar School and wrote articles for the Evening News. He wrote and illustrated a book, The Impressions of a New Chum, but was unable to get it published. However, from it the Sydney Morning Herald printed eight articles in 1907. Preferring writing to law, Bean went on to become a reporter with the Sydney Morning Herald in 1908 and subsequently published several books including With the Flagship in the South, 1909, On the Wooltrack, 1910 and The Dreadnought of the Darling, 1911. Between 1910 and 1912 Bean was based in London, working for the Herald. He returned to Sydney in late 1912 to work as a leader writer as well as undertaking several assignments in the country. From June 1914 he was writing daily commentary on the European crisis. With the outbreak of the First World War and the invitation of the Imperial government to attach an Australian official correspondent to its forces (Sir) George Pearce, Minister for Defence, requested the Australian Journalists' Association to nominate a suitable person. A ballot was held which Bean won, defeating (Sir) Keith Murdoch by a narrow margin. With the honorary rank of Captain Bean embarked for Egypt with the first contingent of the Australian Imperial Force. He went on to Gallipoli, landing on 25 April 1915, only a few hours after the dawn attack. Although he annoyed some troops in Egypt for reporting that some men were discharged and sent home for indiscipline, Bean gained their admiration on Gallipoli. He was recommended for a decoration for his bravery during the battle of Krithia, where, under fire, he assisted many wounded men, but as a civilian was ineligible for this award. Instead he was mentioned in dispatches. During the August offensive he was shot in the leg but refused to leave the peninsula, remaining at Gallipoli for the duration of the campaign. Bean went on to serve at the Western Front between 1916 and 1918, despatching news reports to Australia and collecting information in notebooks (which eventually comprised approximately 300 volumes) for use in the projected official history of Australia in the war. He was also involved in the administration of the AIF, contributing most significantly to the formation and development of the Australian War Records Section and of the AIF educational scheme. He had noticed as early as the Gallipoli campaign that Australian soldiers were avid collectors of battlefield souvenirs but it was on the Western Front that he conceived of a memorial that would commemorate the fallen. In May 1919 while on his way back to Australia he wrote recommendations to the government for the official history and for the establishment of a national war memorial. His proposals accepted, Bean, his staff and the war records of the AIF moved to Tuggeranong homestead, in the newly established ACT, where he was to write theOfficial history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918. In January 1921 Bean married Ethel (Effie) Clara Young, a nursing sister at the Queanbeyan hospital. They met when she visited Tuggeranong to play tennis. The first two volumes of the history, The story of Anzac, appeared in 1921 and 1924 respectively. By this stage Bean had been suffering pain for several years from a kidney ailment, and in 1924 he and Effie went to England so he could be treated. Following a kidney removal and the doctor's recommendation of a warmer climate the couple moved to Lindfield, Sydney, to a house they named Clifton. His staff and records moved to Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Bean wrote six volumes himself, edited eight more and, with H S Gullett, annotated the volume of photographs. The final volume was published in 1942. This was followed with Bean's one volume abridged history, Anzac to Amiens (Canberra, 1946). The vision Bean had for a memorial to honour the fallen and to display war relics came to fruition with the opening of the Australian War Memorial in November 1941. Between the wars, while living in Sydney, Bean was a founder of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement of New South Wales and was involved in the Town Planning Association. The Depression years took their toll on Bean. Although his salary was fixed by contract and not subject to the pay cuts experienced by public servants, including his colleagues working on the Official History, he insisted that his pay be reduced as well. In the 1930s Bean became an active member in the League of Nations Union, hoping it would help preserve world peace. He also supported the appeasement of Nazi Germany until Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and it became obvious that war could not be avoided. During the Second World War Bean wrote a pamphlet called The old AIF and the new in 1940 andWar aims of a plain Australian, a book in which he decried the failure of Australians to live up to the ideals which, he believed, had emerged at the end of the First World War. In 1940 Bean was employed by the Department of Information to provide liaison between the Chiefs of Staff and the press. In 1942 he became chairman of the new Commonwealth Archives Committee and subsequently had a primary role in the creation of the Commonwealth Archives. After the war Bean sought employment where he could. He was 66 when the Second World War ended, and the volumes he had produced generated no income. The only copyright he held was for ANZAC to Amiens but it sold very slowly. In 1952 he became chairman of the Board of Management of the Australian War Memorial (an unpaid position) and accepted a commission to examine First World War relics to determine what should be kept or discarded. Between 1947 and 1958 he chaired the Promotion Appeals Board of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He wrote a history of Australia's non-government schools in 1950 and some of his pre-First World War books, were republished in new editions. In 1951 he and his wife Effie visited England and when they returned to Australia it was by a migrant ship, on which Bean was employed as a migration officer. Towards the end of his life Bean planned to return to the subject that had occupied most of his adult life with a series of biographies but only one was written: Two men I knew: William Bridges and Brudenell White, founders of the AIF, 1957. It was his last book. Bean's achievements did not go unrecognised. On more than one occasion he declined a knighthood. In 1930 he was given the Chesney Gold Medal of the Royal United Service Institution and accepted an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Melbourne in 1931 and an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Australian National University in 1959. In 1956 he and his wife moved from Lindfield to Collaroy, to another house named Clifton. With his health failing Bean was admitted to Concord Repatriation Hospital in early 1964 and remained there until his death on 30 August 1968. A memorial service was held in Sydney's Anglican cathedral with an address given by Angus McLachlan.

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Bean, Charles; Bean, Ethel

Charles Bean; Ethel Bean

Correspondence; Diaries; Personal papers

Coverage Temporal



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