Donald Friend

Donald Friend (1915–1989), the second son of a New South Wales pastoralist, was one of Australia’s leading 20th century artists and writers. His varied life included time in Nigeria, England, a period of service during World War Two in the Australian Army, Sri Lanka and Bali. He knew many other renowned Australian painters, Sir Russell Drysdale being one of his closest friends.

Although he wrote 12 books, as a writer Friend is best known for his diaries, as are artists John Olsen and Judy Cassab.1 Begun when he was aged 14, they comprise 49 volumes, most including delightful and occasionally ironic and erotic illustrations. Selections of both diary content and drawings have been published, the most ambitious being initiated in the past two years by the National Library of Australia, which holds all but five of the diaries.

Item 27

Gunner’s Diary: written and illustrated by Donald Friend (Ure Smith Pty Limited, 1943).

Item 28

The Diaries of Donald Friend. Volume 1, edited by Anne Gray (National Library of Australia, 2001).

Item 29

The Genius of Donald Friend: drawings from the diaries 1942–1989, selected and introduced by Lou Klepac (National Library of Australia, 2000).

Display case lining

Poster and flyers from the National Library of Australia, from the Gray and Klepac editions.


  1. John Olsen, Drawn From Life (Duffy and Snellgrove, 1997) and Judy Cassab, Judy Cassab Diaries (Alfred Knopf, 1995).