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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sat, April 27 2019 8:20 PM UTC +00:00.

Louisa DeaseyBy Louisa Deasey
First created
Louisa DeaseyBy Louisa Deasey
First created
AU$ 16,811
pledged of AU$ 15,000pledged of AU$ 15,000 goal
107
backers
4days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sat, April 27 2019 8:20 PM UTC +00:00.

About

Please help me bring this project over the finish line! I'm in the last week of the campaign and kickstarter is all-or-nothing!

The project

A lost manuscript of historical significance, The French Australian Connection is a true story written by my father of 1940's and 50's Melbourne, Paris and London, with many famous figures referenced in code. There's also a tale of his time in the first Australian Commandos which I want to weave into the beginning of his manuscript.

Think: John Le Carré meets A Moveable Feast but with an Australian twist on the London -France post-war experience. There's bohemian artists, mystery, history, War, and of course France...

I’m seeking your help to bring this beautiful and significant manuscript out of the State Library’s archives and into the public realm. 

The manuscript needs research, transcription, and in some places, translation, before it can be presented to a publisher. 

Your assistance can bring this precious archive into the digital realm!

The Book: The French Australian Connection (working title)

Would you like to read a first-hand account of a man who signed up for the first Australian Commandoes in 1941? Perhaps you’re more interested in details of post-war Paris when bohemian artists could get by on very little,  Americans like George Whitman who set up a little bookstore that became Shakespeare and Co, on the banks of the Seine were flocking in on the GI Bill? My dad recorded an extraordinary amount about everyday encounters in France at that time. 

Or perhaps you'd like an account of life on-board a ship from Australia to England in the 1940s, and  what it was like for an Australian to arrive in post-war London with his ration books confiscated and nothing but some original Foujita paintings, to get him to Paris?

A true story chronicling WW2 in Australia, a six-week passenger ship to London in 1947, then life in France of the late 1940s and 1950’s,  Denison Deasey’s memoir chronicles la vie boheme in France, including how an unlikely fishing village and a Villa in the South of France became an idyl for writers and artists in the late 1940s.

Learn about the eccentric hotel in Montparnasse which became “Little Australia” for a time, and how dad was arrested while living in the same hotel in 1951, mistaken for a defected member of the Cambridge Spy ring and almost shot in his underpants.

Denison brings an Australian eye to the post-war period in Europe. He was a fluent French- and German-speaker with long years living between England and Europe. He brings the rare combination of an Australian approach to life (an ease of connection with locals), fluent French and German, with a deep interest in the past and present of every location he visits.

Some of my father’s closest friendships were with historically-significant figures and now world-famous artists making their first forays into European life in the post-war period. His memoirs offer significant new material and insights into these figures.

The mysterious black binder unearthed from the archives. It contains the manuscript of what will form the majority of the French-Australian connection.
The mysterious black binder unearthed from the archives. It contains the manuscript of what will form the majority of the French-Australian connection.

The Fund

To publish the material, I intend to combine his ten-page typed Commando memoir with the French-Australian memoir, as well as further material from his diaries, letters, and unpublished essays, which are held both in the library archives and our family collection. 

The funds I raise on Kickstarter are integral to completing this work. In many places, the references still need research to decipher key figures mentioned in the work. 

What’s needed most of all now is time with the library material: The remainder of the French-Australian memoir needs transcription, and, in some places translation. 

His diaries and essays also need cross-referencing, transcription and professional translation, to add further depth to the memoir, particularly as some of the anecdotes and dialogue are in French. 

To get the manuscript to a stage where it is ready for publication, it will need professional editing, proofreading, design, and printing. 

Every single person who backs my project will receive backer-only updates as I work through the remainder of my father’s material. 

I have no doubt there are still some significant discoveries to be made in my dad's written archives. All up, his papers measure 1.6 metres in height.

A newspaper report on my father's mistaken arrest at the Hotel Floridor when Donald Maclean had gone missing in Paris
A newspaper report on my father's mistaken arrest at the Hotel Floridor when Donald Maclean had gone missing in Paris

Who Am I

My name is Louisa Deasey, and Denison was my father. I’ve worked as a journalist, writer and editor for over twenty years.  I've also authored two traditionally-published non-fiction books: Love & Other U-Turns (Allen and Unwin, 2010) and A Letter From Paris (Scribe, 2018).

Three years ago I found my father’s archives in the State Library Victoria. Since publication of A Letter From Paris (Scribe, 2018), which uses excerpts from his diaries, there has been significant interest from readers wanting to read my father's full French/Australian memoir.

Since A Letter From Paris was published in 2018, there has been significant interest from the public in seeing my late father's memoir in full.
Since A Letter From Paris was published in 2018, there has been significant interest from the public in seeing my late father's memoir in full.

My dream is to bring my late father's memoir out of the library and into the public realm as a book.

Who was Denison Deasey? 

Denison Deasey in Saint Clair, France, 1947
Denison Deasey in Saint Clair, France, 1947

My father was born in 1920 and died in 1984. He was never famous, but he wrote a mass of material, some of it published or performed, about the times in which he lived. He also kept hundreds of letters and paper diaries, many of which have vital clues preserved in their pages: ticket stubs, photos, signed notes from prominent French, English, American or Australian artists. Because of their historical significance, his archives have been in the Australian manuscripts collection at the State Library Victoria since 1985. 

Denison Deasey was also a member of one of the first Australian Commando companies to be formed in 1941. His diaries, letters and memoirs chronicle this time, including sign-up and training details, accounts of various members of his Company, and where and how they were posted in the Northern Territory.

An image of my father and his Commando mates in the Northern Territory, 1941, which corresponds with a picture of 'unnamed soldiers' on the Australian War Memorial website
An image of my father and his Commando mates in the Northern Territory, 1941, which corresponds with a picture of 'unnamed soldiers' on the Australian War Memorial website

After serving in the War, my father associated with a number of significant historical, artistic and literary figures in Melbourne, London and Paris of the 1940s and 1950s. His letters to, from and about them shed precious new insights into some of Australia’s most significant modern artists, their early life in Melbourne and their first forays in Europe.

These include:

  • David and Arthur Boyd
Arthur Boyd in the You Yangs, circa 1938. Photo by Denison Deasey. There is also the beginnings of a book on the Boyd family early life in my father's archives.
Arthur Boyd in the You Yangs, circa 1938. Photo by Denison Deasey. There is also the beginnings of a book on the Boyd family early life in my father's archives.
  • Albert Tucker
  • Barry Humphries
  • Vali Myers
  • Moya Dyring
  • Geoff and Ninette Dutton
  • Sidney Nolan
  • Adrian Lawlor
  • Alister Kershaw
  • David Strachan
  • Inge Clendinnen

Other notable figures include:

  •  Jacques De La Rue (Parisian police inspector / Resistant / author: The Gestapo)
  • Richard Aldington (English poet / author: Lawrence of Arabia)
  • Dylan Thomas (English poet and playwright)
  • Leonard Foujita (Japanese/French artist)
  • Louis MacNeice (Irish / English poet and playwright)
  • David (D.H) Lawrence (English author)
  • Henry Williamson (author: Tarka The Otter)
  • George Bailey (author: The Germans)
  • Donald Maclean (Cambridge Spy ring)
One of hundreds of typed pages which will add further detail to the French-Australian memoir. This diary entry recounts bumping into Albert Tucker in Paris, 1947
One of hundreds of typed pages which will add further detail to the French-Australian memoir. This diary entry recounts bumping into Albert Tucker in Paris, 1947

Thank you for reading this far, I'm honoured that you'd consider backing my project and can't wait to share it with the world.  

With your assistance, my dad's wild, true tale -- and a slice of history, with many never-before uncovered aspects -- can make its way out of the archives and into the world where everyone can read it as a published book. 

Risks and challenges

The real risk is that this material will continue undiscovered in the Library and that I won't have the opportunity to consolidate the information I’ve uncovered from researching A Letter From Paris and weave it together with the archival material.

There’s also a risk that a traditional publisher won’t see the potential in this work because I’m unable to display it to them without completing the necessary research. In this case the world would miss out on an incredibly unique, relatable and fascinating true story from a significant era in history.

By adding further depth to the work with additional material from our home archives, I can act as both editor and writing mentor to my late father, with the unique perspective of having explored his archives in detail over three years, and knowing what needs to be added to the memoir for even more depth and relevance to a modern audience.

This is another challenge: to bring a 21st century eye and ear to the writing, to edit and expand my father’s work so that it will speak to a modern audience. I need to use the expanded archive material (diaries, letters) to deliver evocative insights into the realities of romance across countries and continents, the strong attachments and difficulties of family spread out by war and travel, the day-to-day struggles and delights of a young Australian following his dreams across Britain, Ireland and Europe, and to maintain my father’s unique writing voice while doing so.

As a twice published non-fiction author (A Letter From Paris, Scribe 2018 and Love & Other U-Turns, Allen & Unwin, 2010) I believe I've proven I have the skills necessary to overcome these challenges.

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  1. Make a pledge without a reward

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    Personal thank you email

    Thank you so much for supporting me in bringing this precious material out of the archives and into the public domain. Please accept a personal note of thanks from me in my gratitude.

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    E-book & email of thanks

    With this pledge you will receive a digital download of the completed memoir, The French-Australian Connection. In my gratitude, you'll also receive a personal email of thanks.
    This and all other pledges receive backer-only updates of progress and discoveries with the material.

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    E-book and signed 1947 Paris card

    As a thank you for your backing please accept a Paris postcard from 1947 made from one of dad's postcards, signed by me and posted anywhere in the world.
    You will also receive a digital copy of the book upon publication that you can download to kindle, an email of thanks, and backer-only updates from me.

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    Paperback, e-book and signed Paris photo

    As a gesture of my thanks for your vital contribution to bring this material to light, please accept a paperback copy of The French-Australian Connection on publication, the e-book, and a signed 1947 Paris photo postcard from me sent anywhere in the world.
    All backers will receive updates as I progress through the material and make any new and exciting discoveries in my father's archives!

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    Printable character notes

    From Albert Tucker to Vali Myers and Jacques De La Rue, the people with which my father associated were unique, notable, and his memoirs add precious new insights into their lives, work and art.
    These printable character notes on key figures mentioned in the memoir would be a great addition to your historical society, gallery or book club.
    This and all other rewards include an e-book & a paperback upon publication, an email of thanks and backer-only updates from me.

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    Online shout-out

    Is your product, brand or business to do with Paris, modern art, or Francophiles?
    I love instagram - without it, i would never have found the sleepy hamlet where dad lived after World War Two.
    As a gesture of my gratitude for your helping in bringing this beautiful book into the public domain, your product, business, book or brand will receive a carefully curated post on my Instagram page which will also be shared to Facebook and Twitter. I'll also give you a shout-out on the dedicated French-Australian Connection page of my website.
    With this pledge you'll also receive a copy of the e-book & paperback on publication, an email of thanks and backer-only updates from me.

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    Paperback, e-book + 3 extra copies

    Do you love libraries as much as me? My father first started writing for Richard Aldington at the British Library, in London.
    Thank you for contributing to a project that will bring a precious library archive out to the world. Please accept all of the above rewards along with 3 further printed copies sent to a school / library / bookshop / person / reviewer of your choice. You can also keep these extra copies and use them as giveaways on your blog or website.

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    Three password-protected process updates

    How do you turn a mass of manuscript material and disparate experiences into a book ready for a publisher?
    I created this reward for those of you who are curious about researching, editing memoir and the process of transforming a historical archive into a modern-day story.
    These 800 - 1000 word posts will be sent once per month from June to August 2019 (3 in total).
    For writers of family history, non-fiction, memoir or biography, these editing and storytelling process posts will be like watching me create a book from the archives in real-time. I promise to share key decisions and discoveries and how they've impacted how I shape the material.
    This reward comes also with a copy of the e-book & paperback on publication, as well as a personal email of thanks and backer-only updates from me.

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    Talk at your book club or event

    If you'd like to hear more about the research, tidbits into life in France in the 1940s, some of the code names I had to decipher or the Commandoes research, I would love to talk to your book club / historical society / memoir group / family history group or other event about the process of transforming my dad's archives into a published book.
    The time and date can be arranged 3-6 months prior to the event. I can do a visual presentation or we can just do Q+A - whatever you prefer.

    Please note in person visits are limited to a 100 km radius of Melbourne or Sydney, or I can do skype or online chat with video capability anywhere else in the world.

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    1941 Commando Letter

    In amongst my father's library material, I found a handwritten letter he'd sent 'home' just after enlisting in the first Commandoes and being sent to the Northern Territory.
    In the letter are precious insights into the experience of a young Australian sent away from home for the first time, what he and his fellow enlistees were told and what they understood of the War.
    As an expression of my enormous gratitude for your generous help for me to complete this work, please accept a transcript of this letter as a digital PDF, written in March 1941 just after completing training at Tidal River, Victoria. I will also add footnotes to explain certain references.
    You will also receive a digital copy and paperback of the book on publication and backer-only updates as well as a personal email of thanks from me as gratitude for supporting this project.

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    Print postcards of WW2 Commando photos

    When I first found my father's material in the library, I could barely believe my eyes. Precious hidden black-and-white photos, with names handwritten on the back, which then corresponded with a ten-page typed account detailing classified information of his war-time experiences.
    After a year of research into his Company, I found an image in our home collection corresponded with a photo of 'unnamed' soldiers on the Australian War Memorial website. These images form a precious insight into the lives of the first Commandoes, particularly with the written material unearthed from the archives.
    As an expression of my gratitude for enabling me to bring this research out of the library, please accept 3 of the photographs from 1941 with a note from my father's memoirs written on the back of each image.
    The photos shed light into the 2/4 Independent Commando Company who served in the Northern Territory in 1941-1942 and then Timor.

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    Your name in the acknowledgements

    "Verba Volant, Scripta Manent" is the latin epitaph at the beginning of A Letter From Paris. Loosely translated, it means that the written word has the power to transcend space and time.
    Have your full name printed in the acknowledgements of the e-book and the paperback edition as an expression of how vital your contribution to bringing my father's work out of the archives and into the public realm. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    This and all other rewards include an e-book, a paperback, a personal email of thanks from me and backer-only updates on my progress.

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