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Cockburn, (Alexander) Stewart (1921-2009)
Scrapbooks and papers 1943-2003

MSS 0091

Biographical Note

Stewart Cockburn, esteemed journalist and author, joined Adelaide's The Advertiser newspaper in 1938 and retired from journalism in 1983. He has also worked as Press Secretary to the former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, Press Attache to the Australian Embassy in Washington, and reporter and feature writer for the Melbourne Herald and Reuters, London. He has won two Walkley Awards for the best feature articles in Australian journalism.

In 1979 Cockburn published the first of his books, the best-selling The Salisbury Affair on the sacking of South Australian Police Commissioner, Harold Salisbury, followed by biographies on the long-serving South Australian Premier Sir Thomas Playford, and (with David Ellyard) South Australian Governor and nuclear scientist, Sir Mark Oliphant .

Cockburn and Ellyard’s 1981 Oliphant biography proved controversial and led to a flurry of news articles concerning Sir Mark’s opinions and attitudes on the administration of Don Dunstan and Sir Douglas Nicholls’ appointment as Governor.

Cockburn also published two compilations of profiles from his columns in The Advertiser: The Patriarchs in 1983, a collection of profiles of 30 South Australian senior identities and Notable Lives in 1997, profiles of 21 prominent South Australians.

In 1981 Cockburn wrote a series of newspaper articles which raised doubts on the forensic evidence presented at the trial of Edward Splatt, convicted of the murder of Rosa Amelia Simper in 1978. Many others took up the issue and following 13 hearings, a refusal of leave to appeal to the High Court and a Royal Commission lasting 18 months, Splatt’s conviction was overturned and he was released in August of 1984.

The scrapbooks were donated by Stewart Cockburn in March 2005. The scrapbooks have been digitised. Additional papers were deposited by the family of Stewart Cockburn in 2009.

Correspondence of Stewart Cockburn regarding the Oliphant biography  can be found in the papers of Sir Mark Oliphant MSS 92 O4775p Series 3; and on the Oliphant book and the Splatt case in the Papers of Sir Walter Crocker MSS 327 C938p Series 11.

 

Contents Listing

Series 1: Scrapbook re Cockburn publications 1981-1997 (38 x 55 x 3 cm.)

Includes:

  • Oliphant, the life and times of Sir Mark Oliphant / Steward Cockburn, David Ellyard. Adelaide: Axiom Books, 1981
    Includes copies of posters, photographs taken at book launch (including Sir Mark Oliphant and Sir Walter Crocker), newspaper articles, reviews and advertisements
  • The Patriarchs / by Stewart Cockburn. Adelaide: Ferguson Publications, 1983.
    Includes photographs from the launch, reviews, copies of contents page and book jacket, and advertisements
  • What’s in a name: nomenclature of South Australia / Rodney Cockburn. Adelaide: Ferguson Publications, 1984.
    Revised edition of Rodney Cockburn’s Nomenclature of South Australia (1908), edited by Stewart Cockburn from his father’s manuscript revision of 1932. Includes book jacket, publicity flyer and reviews
  • Playford: benevolent despot / Stewart Cockburn assisted by John Playford. Kent Town, S. Aust.: Axiom, 1991.
    Includes book jacket, publicity material, reviews (including pieces by Don Dunstan and Clyde Cameron), related articles on Playford and items related to the launch
  • Notable lives: profiles of 21 South Australians / Stewart Cockburn. Adelaide: Ferguson Publications, 1997.
    Includes book jacket, flyer, reviews and related articles, and articles on some of the lives profiled including Noel Lothian and Warren Bonython

 

Series 2: Scrapbooks re The Splatt Case 1978-1988 (2 scapbooks, 43 x 57 x 5 cm.)

Scrapbook 1 includes:

  • Photocopied newspaper reports of the original trials 1978
  • ‘Investigation’ articles by Cockburn on the Splatt case May 1981
  • Editorials, newspaper reports and articles, letters to the editor, questions put to the Legislative Council and cartoons on the Splatt case, the Royal Commission and his release 1981-84; also 2 articles on evidence assessment and need to review the Chamberlain case 1984
  • August 1982 letter from Ian Freckelton, Law Reform Commission Australia

Scrapbook 2 includes:

  • Newspaper articles on the Royal Commission and its implications for use of forensic sciences, Splatt’s release and Cockburn’s involvement in the review of the Splatt case, editorials and letters to the editor 1984-1988
  • Newspaper articles by Edward Splatt on his life before imprisonment August 1984
  • Questions put to the House of Assembly August 1984 and 1988
  • Articles on the relations between the Splatt and Chamberlain cases

 

Series 3: Digital copies of the scrapbooks on CD-Rom. 3 discs

 

Series 4: Recordings (cassette tapes) – preliminary listing only

Interviews and recordings re The Salisbury affair / [by] Stewart Cockburn. Melbourne: Sun Books, 1979

  • Salisbury interview / Cockburn 12/10/1978
  • Salisbury’s press conference after Royal Commission Report released
  • Extracts from the Dismissal Saga
  • Stewart Cockburn / interview with Phillip Satchell broadcast 10.30am 23/4/1979; also launch of ‘The Salisbury Affair’ / speeches by Sir Mark Oliphant and Stewart Cockburn 23/4/1979
  • Cockburn interview on ‘The Salisbury Affair’ 5AN 20/4/1979; Salisbury interview with Bryce Radford 10/5/1979
  • Cockburn interview on ‘The Salisbury Affair’ / David Combe 5DN
  • Cockburn interview on ‘The Salisbury Affair’ / Kevin Crease
  • Review on Broadband of ‘The Salisbury Affair’ / Richard Hall
  • Cockburn - Harris - Satchell on Salisbury (2 copies)
  • Cockburn Salisbury / Kevin Crease 5AD
  • Cockburn interviewed by Kevin Crease 5AD 6/6/1978; Dunstan v Cockburn / Willesee programme 6/6/1978
  • Don Dunstan on Oliphant/Nicholls letter / Phillip Satchell ABC 21/8/1981
  • Stewart Cockburn and Trevor Ford – 1 hour interview on Salisbury Affair 5DN
  • Cockburn on This Day Tonight 1/3/1978
  • Mr Salisbury [interview? nd]
  • Dunstan on Salisbury (commercial radio)
  • Oliphant on Salisbury, August 1978
  • Dunstan / Cockburn 2/6/1978
  • Dustan on Salisbury 5AD
  • Stewart Cockburn / Kevin Crease, Phillip Satchell Monday AM

Interviews for and recordings related to Oliphant, the life and times of Sir Mark Oliphant / Steward Cockburn, David Ellyard. Adelaide: Axiom Books, 1981

  • Oliphant, Canberra April 1980 / Ellyard, Cockburn
  • Oliphant (undated) labelled MLO
  • Dr E Lofgren / Cockburn 2 tapes
  • Dunstan on Cockburn & Salisbury 2/6/78
  • Stewart Cockburn on Mark Oliphant and security
  • Interview with Mr JW Blamey Sept 1979 / Cockburn
  • Launching of Oliphant book by Sir Walter Crocker 24/8/81
  • Dick Henderson on Oliphant
  • Oliphant ABC TV Science
  • Dr Lloyd Evans, Canberra Feb 1980 / Cockburn
  • Oliphant 20/2/1980/ Cockburn
  • Oliphant book launch – some news stories
  • Oliphant / Ellyard MAUD etc
  • Transcript (corrected) of Oliphant interview / David Ellyard headed 'The history of nuclear weapons'
  • Oliphant on Parkinson Show 26/6/1982 16 min.
  • Sir Mark Oliphant 12/2/73 – with Stewart Cockburn on 5AD
  • Oliphant / Ellyard 'The Science Programme' 27/8/1981
  • Oliphant/Rayner interview on ABC
  • Interview with Dr Harold Fidler, Berkeley 1980 / Cockburn; interview with Prof. J Carver Sept 1980 / Cockburn
  • Stewart Cockburn and David Ellyard interviewed on Phillip Satchel programme, re Oliphant
  • Dr Bainbridge 21/8/1981
  • Dr Brode 10/6/80?
  • Dr Thornton & Prof Helmholz; Prof Helmholz & Dr Seere
  • Dr Brombeck, Mr Reynolds, Mrs Molly Lawrence
  • Dr Luis Alvarez
  • Keith Oliphant (?)
  • Archbishop of Canterbury / Cockburn [different label on case – Dr …ofsky and Fidler]

Interviews and recordings re the Splatt case for a series of newspaper articles 1981-1984

  • Splatt
  • Splatt Ch. 9 2/11/1982
  • S Cockburn & Eliz Johnson? On Splatt case
  • Max Bowden (juror) on Splatt case
  • Cockburn on Splatt, ‘Someone cares’ OARS, 5MV Riverland ABC 27/9/1984
  • Cockburn on jury system / Satchell 29/2/1984
  • Eddie Splatt / Owen Delaney ‘Australia overnight’ @GB Sydney 4/10/1984
  • Interviews by Phillip Satchell on ABC with Stewart Cockburn, Mrs Edward Splatt, Splatt’s counsel, Jack Elliot QC, the Attorney-General Chris Sumner, and members of the public August 2 1984 (the day Splatt was pardoned and released from jail)
  • Unlabelled tape

Interviews for The patriarchs / by Stewart Cockburn. Adelaide: Ferguson Publications, 1983

  • Margaret McGuire / Cockburn
  • Dr Mildrid Mocatta / Cockburn
  • Dr TT Reed / Cockburn

What’s in a name?: nomenclature of South Australia / by Rodney Cockburn. Rev. and enl. ed. [Glen Osmond, S. Aust.]: Ferguson Publications, 1984

  • Stewart Cockburn interviewed by Keith Conlon and Phillip Satchell

Interviews for Playford: benevolent despot / Stewart Cockburn assisted by John Playford. Kent Town, S. Aust: Axiom, 1991

  • Lloyd Menz
  • Cockburn interviewed by Tony Brook ABC on ‘The Seaman Affair’ 1978
  • Steele Hall / Cockburn 5AD 21/3/1972
  • Sir Thomas Playford 21/6/1978 and 6/7/1978 [and Crocker?]
  • Police Max Stuart
  • Rupert Max Stewart in jail / Cockburn
  • Fred Drew
  • David Tonkin
  • Book launch ‘Sir Thomas Playford’ 4/5/1983 5UV un-edited recording
  • Launch of ‘Sir Thomas Playford’ by Sir Walter Crocker – 5UV edited version
  • Stewart and Heather Ceravalo[?] / Phillip Satchell ABC 5/7/1996
  • Cockburn reading excerpts from Playford biography 5UV
  • Stewart Cockburn and John Fleming on press freedom and journalistic ethics 5AA 16/5/1973
  • Transcript only of interview of Gilbert Seaman, former Government Economist and Under Treasurer of SA / Cockburn June 1985 (seen and corrected by Mr Seaman)

Launch of Notable lives: profiles of 21 South Australians / Stewart Cockburn. Adelaide: Ferguson Publications, 1997

  • Speech by Basil Hetzel when launching Notable lives August 1987

Other

  • ‘Bully Bob Hawke at his most arrogant offensive best, Monday Conference mid-1970s’
  • ‘Books and writing’ 5CL 25/7/1982 9.45
  • Unlabelled
  • Claude Gaud[?]
  • Adele Koh / Cockburn
  • Talk with Nora Heysen about her career March 1984
  • Sir Walter Crocker 1979 Sides 3&4
  • Jory/Nicoll 8/5/1992
  • “Defamation & libel”

 

Series 5: Scrapbook  7 cm (oversize)

Scrapbook containing articles related to Stewart Cockburn’s writings and career 1934, 1940-1994 [selected articles only]
Includes 12 pages of cuttings re Stewart’s father, Rodney Cockburn, other family, and South Australian history 1917-1932, 1996. Inside front cover of scrapbook bears a note dated April 1998 that the pages cut from the scrapbook related to early South Australian history, especially place name history, which had been collected by Rodney Cockburn, had been sent to the Mortlock Library (State Library of SA).

 

Series 6: Personal memorabilia, 1943-1974. 18 cm

Comprises memorabilia (invitations, menus, pamphlets, Christmas cards etc) and correspondence 1943-1974 during Steward Cockburn’s time spent as representative of ‘The Melbourne Herald’ in London in the 1940s, as Press Secretary to Prime Minister Robert Menzies, and his 3 years in the United States as press attaché at the Australian Embassy in Washington during the ambassadorship of Sir Howard Beale. Includes invitations to official, embassy and social events.

Items include:
1940s

  • 1948 opening of Parliament
  • Programme ‘Faust’ Théatre National de l’Opéra 3/5/1949
  • Press ticket for Members’ Gallery, House of Commons
  • Travel form for travel from London to [East] Berlin 15/7/1948
  • Letter from Sir Percy Sillitoe refusing request for interview due to Official Secrets Act 12/5/1948
  • London telegram
  • Menu: Annual Dinner Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery 23/9/1944
  • Menu: SS Orcades 24/12/1949
  • Menu: Overseas Empire Correspondence Association, The Connaught Rooms 16/11/1948
  • Menu: USS New Jersey Flagship Breakfast 25/6/1947
  • Menu: Luncheon on the occasion of the visit of the US Naval Training Squadron, City Chambers Edinburgh 24/6/1947

1950s

  • Invitation to Installation of the first Chancellor, Australian National University 23/10/1952
  • Invitation to screening of Soviet films, Canberra 15/6/1952
  • Invitation to meet South African journalists from first South Africa to Australia inaugural flight 16/9/1952
  • Invitation and ticket to presentation of the freedom of the city of London to Robert Menzies 4/6/1952
  • Conferment of the honorary freedom of the city of Oxford to Menzies 6/6/1953
  • Programme of review of the fleet at Spithead (HMAS Sydney) 15/6/1953
  • Award of the coronation medal
  • Invitation to the ball in honour of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Melbourne 2/3/1954
  • Menu: Advertising Association Official Luncheon Dorchester Hotel, London 8/6/1953
  • Menu: South Australian Coronation Dinner 27/5//1953
  • Menu: dinner on the occasion of the opening of the Gaur Hydro-Electric Scheme by RG Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, Atholl palace Hotel, Pitlochry 20/6/1953
  • Menu: luncheon in honour of RG Menzies [South Africa?] 9/7/1953
  • Christmas cards from RG Menzies 1952-1961, some include photographs of Menzies and family

1960s

  • Numerous invitations to embassy, government and social events
  • Menu, guest list and seating arrangements: radio and Television Correspondents’ Association 19th Annual Dinner 3/5/1963
  • America’s Cup race 1962 dinner, Newport R.I., 14/9/1962
  • Programme for show at Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas ‘Le Lido de Paris’

Undated

  • Christmas cards from the Savoy Hotel, London

 

Series 7: Other papers

7.1 Angry Penguins, 1944-1993. 1.5 cm

Includes clippings re Max Harris; the Ern Malley hoax (contemporary clippings from On Dit and other papers inside Cockburn’s own copy of the 1944 issue of Angry Penguins magazine, and others on the 25th anniversary edition 1966); Art Gallery of SA Festival Exhibitions catalogue 1974 featuring Sidney Nolans’s ‘Ern Malley and Paradise Garden; The Australian Magazine August 28-29 1993 featuring articles ‘The poet who never was’ / Robert Hughes and ‘The well-wrought Ern’ / Michael Heyward; obituary of Alistair Kershaw.

7.2 Crocker files, 1973-2000.  3 cm

  • Correspondence between Sir Walter Crocker and Stewart Cockburn 1973 (from the time of Crocker’s appointment as Lieutenant Governor) to 2000. Includes:
  • Cockburn’s article re Crocker’s appointment ’The Advertiser’ 1/9/1973, the official press release and radio broadcast by Cockburn 5AD 3/9/1973
  • Cockburn’s introduction of Crocker as speaker at the Quarterly Club ca 1975
  • ‘News Conference’ interview with Crocker ‘The Advertiser’ 31/8/1977, article ‘The age of delusion’ 17/3/1979 ‘The Advertiser’ summarising two of Crocker’s ABC talks
  • Correspondence between Cockburn and Crocker, and Crocker and Macmillan re writing, editing and publishing of Crocker’s memoirs ‘Travelling Back’ published 1979, drafts of ABC talks for editing by Cockburn, and Cockburn’s comments on the manuscript, and articles and reviews following publication in May 1981
  • The bulk of the correspondence relates to Cockburn’s biography of Oliphant, from first conception of the project in 1979 to the launch in 1981. Includes transcripts and notes of interviews with Sir Walter Crocker 1980, Crocker’s comments on the draft, ; also later undated letter from Cockburn to Crocker repudiating Crocker’s harsh criticism of Oliphant in a typescript of Crocker’s ‘recollections’
  • Also comments on political events and personalities, journalism, books and articles published (including Cockburn’s Playford biography) and other personal and social correspondence re dinner engagements, with a few letters from other correspondents, and letter from Crocker to Jennifer Cashmore 2/12/1990

Also correspondence between Sir Walter and Claire Crocker and Oliphant 1955-1980 given to Cockburn by Crocker as source material for the biography, and typed extracts [from the Crocker papers?]. Includes a photograph of the wedding of Sir Walter and Claire Crocker, 1975 response from the Attorney-General to Oliphant’s request for a statement on the Governor’s constitutional role, and a draft and final copy of Oliphant’s report to the Queen at the end of his term as Governor

See also Oliphant files in Series 7.3, and Crocker Papers Series 11 and Oliphant Papers Series 3

7.3 Oliphant files, 1981-2003. 6 cm

Oliphant biography: launch, reviews and publicity material of ‘Oliphant, the life and times of Sir Mark Oliphant’ by Stewart Cockburn and David Ellyard (Adelaide, 1981), including:

  • press releases (with press release of the expanded paperback version [1992]) and publicity material
  • copies and list of reviews and summary ‘What the critics say about Oliphant
  • copies of Cockburn’s and Oliphant’s speeches at launch
  • Cockburn’s typescript statement re the inclusion of the Oliphant/Dunstan letters re Nicholls, and typescript summary of the writing process and self-publication of the biography (2p.) with photocopies of the letters and other material from the text, photocopy of Sir Mark Oliphant’s Citation for the Medal of Freedom, Gold Palm and press release 22/8/1981 ‘US Award to Australian Scientists Blocked’
  • Cockburn typescript paged ‘hurt 1-6’ on the fractured relationship between Oliphant and Dunstan, the Salisbury affair and the publication of the Nicholls letters
  • Cockburn’s typescript addresses to the Enfield Rotary Club, the ESU, the Australian Book Council and the Authors Society

Oliphant biography: letters following publication of ‘Oliphant’

  • letters sent out by Cockburn with review and complimentary copies
  • letters of congratulation and response, many commenting on the inclusion of the Oliphant/Dunstan correspondence related to the appointment of Sir Douglas Nicholls as Governor
  • letter between Cockburn and Ellyard 1988
  • 1981 correspondence with Sir Frederick White and LT Evans of the Australian Academy of Science re treatment of Oliphant’s role at ANU in the biography; and letter from Fred White re development of war-time radar and Oliphant’s reception on his return to Australia in 1942; also 1980 pre-publication correspondence with Sir John Eccles re Oliphant, Marston and Martyn at the Academy, Sir Ellerton Becker and the financing of the Academy, with copies of Cockburn’s 1975 article on Ellerton

Oliphant biography: miscellaneous newspaper articles etc published following the launch of ‘Oliphant’, concerning Oliphant’s career, the Nicholl’s letter and published letters to the editor (including Dunstan) and others concerning journalistic treatment of the letter. Includes newspaper clippings ca 1985 concerning Lord Penny’s evidence that Oliphant may have been viewed as a security risk in the 1940s- 1950s; Cockburn’s typescript introduction of Oliphant as guest speaker at a meeting of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society in 1985 on the day that the articles appeared re Oliphant as security risk

Correspondence between Sir Mark Oliphant and Stewart Cockburn and Jennifer Cashmore 1985-1989, including Oliphant’s comments on economic, political and environmental aspects of Australia, comment’s on the article ‘Genius and the genie: Sir Mark Oliphant on the atomic bomb’ by John Larkin The Age 8/8/1985 (with copy of the article), and copies of other Oliphant news clippings

Obituaries of Sir Mark Oliphant from Australian and English newspapers July 2000 and associated correspondence etc : also includes letter from Cockburn to Assistant Editor of the Advertiser with a draft news story and obituary etc; draft speech notes prepared by Stewart Cockburn for Sir Eric Neal, Governor of SA for the Oliphant Memorial Service in Bonython Hall, 18/8/2000; speech by Stewart Cockburn at the Sir Mark Oliphant Round Table Dinner, Radisson Playford Hotel 18/8/2000; letter from Hans Mincham to Cockburn 24/03/2001 enclosing ‘A tribute to Sir Mark Oliphant: Friend of the Flinders’ by Lorraine Edmunds; announcement 11/10/2001 of the DISR Sir Mark Oliphant International Frontiers of Science and Technology Conference Series program; obituary for Lady Oliphant ‘The Advertiser’ 23/1/1987

Correspondence between Vivian Wilson (daughter of Sir Mark Oliphant) and Stewart Cockburn and Jennifer Cashmore 2000-2003. Includes material provided by Vivian and family members to Cockburn for the obituary, a copy of the Bonython Hall Memorial Ceremony booklet and newspaper article re the Canberra  memorial service, and matters dealing with the handling of Oliphant’s estate

See also Crocker Papers Series11, and Oliphant Papers Series 3

7.4 Thiele files, 1986-2002. 1.5 cm

Correspondence between Stewart Cockburn and Colin and Rhonda Thiele 1986-2002, and others including: 1996 correspondence between Cockburn and Walter McVitty re a proposed biography of Thiele; correspondence with and re Stephany Steggall concerneing sources for her biography of Thiele (Can I call you Colin?: the authorised biography of Colin Thiele, 2004) Also 1986 letters from Irwin Traeger of Lutheran Publishing House re the launch of The Seed’s Inheritance, and a photocopy of the flyleaf of Cockburn’s copy of Heysen of Hahndorf inscribed by Thiele to “Stewart, who really started it all”

Cockburn’s introduction of Thiele at the launch of To Find the Way - Yankalilla and District 1836-1986 by Roy Williams (typescript); ‘Remarks made by S Cockburn at launching of Colin Thiele’s The Seed’s Inheritance, Barossa Valley, Sunday April 20 1986” (annotated and corrected typescript, and corrected printout, 6 p.); typescript biography of Thiele (1 p.); [Address by Cockburn to Thiele, perhaps for the launch of Thiele’s Heysen of Hahndorf 2001} (annotated typescript, 1 p.)

Reprints etc.: article on Colin Thiele from Something about the author Autobiography Series vol. 2; ‘The luminous landscape of Colin Thiele’ by Max Fatchen from SMMART 1977/4, p. 1-4 (photocopy); ‘A good day for the spirit’ from Qantas magazine November 2000 (photocopy); newspaper clipping ‘Colin Thiele’s still prolific in his novel occupation’ The Advertiser 6/5/1986

 

Series 8: Photographs (framed) 4 cm

  • Harold Salisbury. Inscribed: Stewart, thank you so much for all you have done on my behalf / Harold Salisbury 12/5/1979
  • Sir Mark Oliphant. Inscribed: With greetings and warmest good wishes / Mark Oliphant
  • Sir Walter Crocker. Inscribed to Stewart 22/8/1979

 

Cheryl Hoskin
September 2008
Revised October 2009

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