AustLit logo
y separately published work icon The Duchess single work   drama   - Two acts
Issue Details: First known date: 1970... 1970 The Duchess
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Two acts as monologues. In act one, Lily is 27 years old, on the eve of her wedding. She wonders about her life up to that point and how it will change as she becomes a married woman and grows up. In act two, Lily is 89 and her husband is dead. She looks back on her life with a more pessimistic attitude than when she was young.


  • Characters

    Lily: aged 27 in 1914.

    Lily: aged 89 in 1976.

    Act 1:


    An attic-like bedroom. Sparsely furnished with say, an iron single bed, small wardrobe, wash-stand with ewer, basin and tooth-mug. Upright chest-of-drawers-type dressing table with separate mirror. A small table, front, with a lighted lamp and a bowl of white lilies, an Austrian-bent chair beside. There may be a small mat under these and another beside the bed. A white counterpane and white lacy curtains on the window. A white wedding-dress and veil hand on the wardrobe. White satin shoes on floor beside them. The wall are painted an unattractive but serviceable dun-colour. As, in an attic room, the door and window cannot be in the same wall, the set might be best constructed corner-wise.


    April, 1914.


    In the course of this act would be what a bride might be involved in before going to bed on the night before her wedding: extra hair-brushing, a complete manicure (but remember that nail-lacquer was not invented then!), clipping toenails and creaming her feet, elbows, hands, neck. She may select her best handkerchiefs and put them into a sachet etc., last minute packing in several suitcases. 

    Act 2:


    Virtually the same room as before, but the whole thing is bigger, better and prettier. As though the place has grown and filled out, coming to maturity. For instance, the door and window are in the same place, but are now of better timber, bigger openings in larger walls. There are good curtains and carpet, and so on. There is also much more in the rooms: a large TV set, a radio, family photographs, bric-a-brac, ornaments, fulsome flower arrangements, some piles of books and papers. There is a pretty little rocking-chair; a hand-bell on the bedside table. The room is really rather untidy with crocheted rugs and shawls and even clothes on every available place where such things could be put down and left, and the dressing-table is really cluttered with bottles and pots, the bedside-table with pill-bottles.


    It is November, 1976. Night.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1970-1979
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Helen Haenke Collection Helen Haenke , 1955-1989 14265233 1955 archive

    The University of Queensland's Fryer Library holds a substantial collection of Helen Haenke's literary works. The collection includes plays, short stories, novels, poems, and prose, all in manuscript form. Several of these works were published, but only the manuscript and electronic text versions are included in the collection. 

      Extent: 18l.p.
      (Manuscript) assertion
      • The Helen Haenke Collection at the University of Queensland's Fryer Library holds one copy of 'The Duchess'. The script has been typed with a typewriter onto thin white paper. There are some small amendments made to the script throughout in lead pencil. On the first page of the second act, beside the words 'Act Two', 'Walter' is written in pencil. Also 'The Duchess' is written in pencil in the top right corner.


      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Local Id: UQFL570
Last amended 4 Apr 2019 16:08:19