AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 5038137226622124813.jpg
Engagement announcement (Advertiser, 30 March 1938, p10).
Thelma Afford Thelma Afford i(A65108 works by) (birth name: Thelma Thomas)
Born: Established: 1 Dec 1908 Broken Hill, Broken Hill area, Far West NSW, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: Aug 1996 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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.


Thelma Afford was born Thelma Thomas, the only daughter of Mr and Mrs W.J. Thomas, in Broken Hill.

She was educated in Adelaide and was one of the first five teachers to introduce art into Adelaide's secondary schools. As well as teaching, she acted in radio plays for the Australian Broadcasting Commission and for the experimental Ab-Intra Studio Theatre, and later became well-known for her costume designs, including those for South Australia's 1936 Centenary Pageant. She lived in Sydney from 1937, marrying playwright Max Afford in 1938. In the years after her husband's death in 1954 she returned to teaching for another eighteen years, then undertook research on the history of the pioneering little theatres of Adelaide. When this failed to be accepted for publication she deposited a copy of 'Adelaide's Little Theatres - Their Dreamers and Visionaries 1900-1940s' in the Fryer Library of the University of Queensland.

Most Referenced Works


  • A series of interviews with Thelma Afford are held in the National Film and Sound Archive. According to their finding guide for oral histories of radio, the NFSA's collection includes the following:

    • Thelma Afford interviewed by Diana Combe (54 min.): 'Thelma Afford, wife of radio writer and producer Max Afford, talks about her husband's career and work for the ABC and commercial radio from 1930s until the early 1950s. She covers his awards, achievements and involvement in radio plays, working conditions at ABC and commercial radio, his attitude to the Writer's Guild, differences in scriptwriting for ABC and commercial radio, the stress of writing serials, how he picked up work, his writing research and style, sale of his work overseas, his social life, attitude to ratings, how he selected work, his attitude to script imports and the differences in acting for radio, television and theatre (Record no. 376434)
    • Thelma Afford interviewed by Nancy Flannery, Part I (38min.): 'Thelma Afford is a costume and theatre designer and she is widow of Max Afford, playwright. She describes the early and post-war life of her husband Max. Max was the Writing Production Manager at 5DN from 1935-36. Thelma mentions other places of work, the plays Max created, his methods of writing, and the sort of person he was.' (Record no. 211821)
    • Thelma Afford interviewed by Nancy Flannery, Part II (32min.): 'Thelma Afford talks about her career as costume designer for pageants, theatre, early television and film, and theatre design in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Mention is also made of Little Theatre, Adelaide.' (Record no. 214749)
Last amended 8 Sep 2016 08:48:28
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: