Helen Haenke Papers donated to the Fryer Library

'Poets who read in King George Square, Sept 1971', Fryer Library UQFL479, PhS959

Image labelled from left: Maureen Freer, John Manifold, Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal), Helen Haenke, Thomas Shapcott, Bruce Dawe, Manfred Jurgensen, compere Blair Edmonds, not pictured. Fryer Library UQFL479, PhS959.

One of the University of Queensland's great alumna was painter, poet and playright Helen Haenke. According to the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature Helen Joyce Haenke (1916–1978) published two volumes of poetry, The Good Company (1977) and Prophets and Honour (1979), 'both characterised by wit, compassion, perceptive awareness of people and fine control of language'. She also published a play, The Bottom of a Birdcage (performed 1976, published 1978) and Firebug in 3 Queensland One-act Plays for Festivals, vol. 2 (1978). Her unpublished plays include ‘Golden Sword’ (1961), ‘The Passage’ (1978), ‘Black Out’ (1967) and ‘Truth to Tell’, which won an award in an Ipswich drama competition for 1960. Her libretto for the opera, The Pied Piper, was performed in Brisbane in 1971.

In Ipswich, Helen's historic home, Rockton, was something of a salon for the creative arts, where recitals, play readings and concerts were held.

Perusing the Haenke collection papers in Fryer Library Reading RoomMembers of the Haenke family and Fryer Library Manager Simon Farley

Image above labelled from left: Jani Haenke Charitable Trust members Dr Margaret Grace, Mrs Angela Geertsma (Helen's daugher), Fryer Librarian, Simon Farley and Mr Tony Bennett of Bennett & Philp Lawyers in the Fryer Library Reading Room.

Helen's daughter Janice Helen (Jani) Haenke (1940–2009) was educated at the Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School and also studied at the University of Queensland, graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts.

Jani trained as a librarian and completed her diploma at the University of New South Wales in 1964. She worked at various institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom. Her final position before she retired was as librarian for the Mount Stromlo Observatory in the Australian Capital Territory. Early in life, Jani was imbued with a love of music, literature and ballet by her mother.

In accordance with her abiding interests and the provisions of her will, the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust was established to support the arts and cultural organisations. Through the trust Ms Helen Pullar (pictured above) was employed to order and arrange the Helen Haenke Papers before hand over to the Fryer Library. She has done an outstanding job and we thank her very much for the great care she has taken with this precious collection.

Simon Farley

Manager, Fryer Library


Last updated:
3 February 2017