When an old battered suitcase, passed down through three generations of Miles Franklin’s extended family, was opened in 2015 for the purposes of accessing some of the photos in the case, the discovery of a small, red pocket diary filled with the spidery writing of one of Australia’s most loved authors was cause for considerable excitement.
I’m a distant relative of author and feminist, Miles Franklin, on my mother’s side. In short, Miles’ grandmother was my great, great, great grandmother. I inherited the diary along with various other family memorabilia from my grandfather, Bill Lampe, via my mother. The diary was identified by our family historian, Margaret Francis of Wagga Wagga, while she had these items on loan from the family for the compilation of a third volume of the family’s history. She had seen the diary briefly in the late 1980s when my grandfather had loaned it to her with some photos. However, on the promise to not make it public, it was assumed in the intervening years the diary had made its way to the State Library of NSW.
On 8 March 2018, on behalf of Miles and with the blessing of her extended family from across NSW, who gathered in Dubbo at Macquarie Regional Library, her last diary chronicling the final months of her life in 1954, was gifted to the State Library of NSW to join the other 46 diaries in their collection.
Read Margaret Francis’ speech from the diary handover event. She tells how she rediscovered the diary and explains the many family connections to Miles Franklin.
The days leading up to and immediately following the handover were a whirlwind of media interest with coverage by the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Sydney, ABC Melbourne, ABC Perth/Western Australia, ABC Western Plains, local newspapers, and TV news – WIN, Prime7 and Channel 9. This captures just some of the media coverage about this remarkable, once in a lifetime event.
Prime7 Central West News: 8 March (at the 12:58 mark)
On Facebook? Check out the video on ABC Western Plains
Thanks to the staff of Macquarie Regional Library Dubbo and the State Library of NSW for their assistance and enthusiasm for ensuring the diary returned to its rightful place and for putting the spotlight on Miles Franklin’s contribution to Australian literature.