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University of Texas at Austin

Rupert Croft-Cooke:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Croft-Cooke, Rupert, 1903-1979
Title: Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers
Dates: 1893-1977, undated
Extent: 103 document boxes (43.26 linear feet) and 9 galley folders (gf)
Abstract: The English author Rupert Croft-Cooke published novels (including detective fiction written under the pen name Leo Bruce), poetry, plays, and non-fiction books on diverse topics, including a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie, 1963) and The Verdict of You All (1955), which concerns Croft-Cooke's conviction and imprisonment, like Oscar Wilde, for alleged gross indecency. The papers include manuscripts of his works, research materials, extensive correspondence, and personal papers including financial and legal records, and military and school papers.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00988
Language: English, with French, German, and Spanish; also an Arabic vocabulary book
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation: Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers (Manuscript Collection MS-00988). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Purchases, 1964-1998 (R1601, R2706, R4023, R4359, R6265, R8088, R12107, R14286).
Processed by: Joan Sibley, 2022. Note: This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. It is a draft finding aid and contains a box-level container list. Titles of works, correspondent names, and other descriptions appearing in the indexes were input from the card catalog, but not all have not yet been reviewed for accuracy against the physical items. Please see the explanatory note at the end of this finding aid for information regarding the arrangement of the manuscripts as well as the abbreviations commonly used in descriptions.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The English author Rupert Croft-Cooke published novels (including detective fiction written under the pen name Leo Bruce), poetry, plays, and nonfiction books on diverse topics, including a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie, 1963) and The Verdict of You All (1955), which concerns Croft-Cooke's conviction and imprisonment, like Oscar Wilde, for alleged gross indecency. The papers include manuscripts of his works, research materials, extensive correspondence, and personal papers including financial and legal records, and military and school papers.
The papers that were acquired by the Ransom Center between 1964 and 1974 were originally described in a card catalog and were organized into four series: I. Works (58 boxes), II. Letters (outgoing correspondence, 3 boxes), III. Recipient (incoming correspondence, 17 boxes), IV. Miscellaneous (personal papers and third-party works and correspondence, 11 boxes). Now added to these are one box of additional materials previously undescribed in the card catalog, and another thirteen boxes of papers acquired between 1978 and 1998.
Series I. Works, 1914-1974, undated, consists of manuscripts for Croft-Cooke’s extensive published output, including books of autobiographies, biographies, nonfiction works, and novels. This series contains manuscripts for nineteen of the autobiographical volumes in The Sensual World series; twenty-four novels; an additional twenty-four detective novels published as Leo Bruce (twenty-two Carolus Deene series, two Sergeant Beef series); seven books on cookery, food or spirits; three biographies; one book of criticism; and one book of commentary. Manuscripts for articles, plays, poetry, and short stories are also numerous and several other genres or formats are present, such as anthologies, collections, broadcasts, columns, juvenilia, lectures, notes, reader’s reports, reviews, and screenplays. The works also include unpublished materials, as well as proposals for works as evidenced by overviews, outlines, summaries, tables of contents, sample chapters, etc. See the Index of Works in this finding aid for a complete list of titles present.
Croft-Cooke created all of his first drafts in longhand and his longtime partner, Joseph Susei Mari (also known as Joseph Sussainathan), typed his manuscripts and correspondence. In addition to the pseudonym Leo Bruce used for detective novels and short stories, several other pseudonyms appear on works in this series: Peter Cushion, John Seeley Marr, Guy Milstone Rogers, and Jeremy Smith. Another name, Taylor Croft, was used for The Cloven Hoof (1932), but it is not among the works in these papers.
Croft-Cooke’s writings reflect his life and travel in many countries during the 1920s and 1930s; the interwar period, his service during World War II from 1940 to 1946, and the aftermath of war in Great Britain; and his imprisonment in England in 1953 and subsequent exodus to Tangier for many years. Places well-represented as topics include South America, especially Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay; Great Britain; Europe, including Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain; North Africa; and India and Madagascar. His writings also reflect his many interests and enthusiasms, such as literature, authors, and books; the circus; cookery, food, and spirits; darts and pubs, and the Romani people.
Croft-Cooke wrote extensively on Romanies through many articles and short stories (some collected in A Few Gypsies, 1955), his novel Glorious (1940), and The Moon in My Pocket: Life with the Romanies (1948). Although Croft-Cooke used the terms Gypsies or Gipsies that were in common use during this period and are now considered derogatory, his experiences with and studies of the Romani people told their stories and helped to educate readers. Croft-Cooke titles of works and correspondent names with these two outdated terms have been retained in this finding aid for historical context, but the term Romanies has been substituted in all subject references.
Croft-Cooke published The Verdict of You All (1955) about his experience as one of many who were subjected to anti-homosexual prosecutions in Great Britain during the 1950s, and he also wrote important studies of the lives of Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde, and other authors in Bosie (1963), Feasting with Panthers: A New Consideration of Some Late Victorian Writers (1967), and The Unrecorded Life of Oscar Wilde (1972). This series also includes an unfinished manuscript, Thought Is Free (circa 1955-1956), that is described in acquisition documentation as a "book on some imaginary causes of homosexuality."
Series II. Letters, 1910-1971, undated, and Series III. Recipient, 1926-1973, undated, contain Croft-Cooke’s outgoing and incoming correspondence respectively. Many of the outgoing letters are handwritten drafts. There are also outgoing typewritten carbon copy letters, sometimes filed with the incoming correspondence. The correspondents include other writers, agents, editors, publications, and publishers, as well as family, friends, and fans. Among the most well-represented correspondents in the papers are Allen & Unwin, Ltd., John Betjeman, Hector Bolitho, British Broadcasting Corporation, Richard Blake Brown, Lord David Cecil, Nöel Coward, Rhys Davies, Lord Alfred Douglas, Dublin University Library, John Galsworthy, Sir John Gielgud, Louis Golding, Michael Harrison, Vyvyan Holland, H. Montgomery Hyde, Lord Patrick Kinross, John Lehmann, John Lodwick, Sir Compton Mackenzie, Joseph Mari, Robin Maugham, W. S. Maugham, Beverley Nichols, Oliver Onions, Joe Orton, Martin Secker, Sir John Colling Squire, Gladys Bronwyn Stern, Alec Waugh, and Charles Wright. Members of Croft-Cooke’s family whose letters are present include Geoffrey Taylor Cooke (brother), Hubert Bruce Cooke (father), Lawrence Alfred Bruce Cooke (brother), Lucy Taylor Cooke (mother), and Olive Cooke (sister). The Index of Letters and Index of Recipients in this finding aid includes the names all identified individual and corporate body correspondents.
Series IV. Miscellaneous, 1893-1971, undated, contains personal papers as well as third-party works and correspondence. In the series are materials related to Croft-Cooke’s research for several books, namely The Circus Book (1947), The Common-Room Book (1948?), Feasting with Panthers (1967), Madeira (1961), and Sherry (1955). In connection with Bosie (1963), there are some manuscripts by Lord Alfred Douglas as well as a number of letters from Douglas to various recipients, and also letters written to Croft-Cooke in response to Bosie. Other third-party letters include several written to Lord Patrick Kinross, who wrote to allies to raise money to help Croft-Cooke after his release from prison. Other personal records for Croft-Cooke in this series include bills, fan letters, financial papers, World War II service records, literary sales records, royalty statements, and school papers. Because of the miscellaneous and varied nature of materials in this series, the Index of Miscellaneous in this finding aid includes detailed descriptions taken from the card catalog.
The Additional Materials segment, 1906-1971, includes one box of items that were not previously cataloged, but which were probably originally destined for the Miscellaneous series. Present are deeds and other legal documents, some of which concern the will and estate of George Crafter Croft; a file of medical papers; some dog pedigrees; and several publishing agreements.
The Additional Acquisitions segment, 1903-1977, undated, is made up of three acquisitions received between 1978 and 1998 now described in this finding aid: 1978 (R8088), 15 boxes of papers; 1990 (R12107), manuscript of "Termination Two"; and 1998 (R14286), letter from Croft-Cooke to Dr. Nöel Cortès.
The 1978 (R8088) papers are arranged in three groups: Works (9 boxes); Correspondence Files (3 boxes); and Career and Personal Papers (1 box), now totaling 13 boxes.
The Works, 1923-1977, undated, are dominated by short stories (5 boxes) by Croft-Cooke or Leo Bruce and articles (2 boxes). The short story files created before 1950 nearly always include manuscripts (handwritten and/or typed) plus printed clippings or tearsheets, and sometimes a cover sheet with word count, date/s published and publication names. The articles represent a wide variety of topics -- book collecting and selling; book reviews; the circus; clothing; cookery, foods and spirits; darts and pubs; freedom; literature and writers; prisons; Romanies; theatre; travel; and war -- but are mostly present as clippings or other printed versions, along with some manuscripts.
Among the book-length works are two autobiographical works, The Long Way Home (1974) and The Green, Green Grass (1977), and two novels, Death of a Bovver Boy by Leo Bruce (1974) and Conduct Unbecoming (1975). Other works include a broadcast, a collection of letters, plays, poems, and a screenplay. The Index of Works also contains titles from this Additional Acquisitions segment, showing all titles present in the papers in one alphabetical sequence, as well as which titles are located in multiple locations.
The Correspondence Files, 1968-1974, remain organized as Croft-Cooke kept them, with correspondence maintained in four categories: Bank, Accounts; Domestic (household, travel, etc.); Personal, Fans; and Writing (literary matters). The correspondence in this group is not yet indexed.
The Career and Personal Papers, 1903-1966, undated, contain more Croft-Cooke book proposals, lists of works, book promotion materials, materials about Oscar Wilde, and stills from the film version of Seven Thunders (1957).

Related Material

At the Harry Ransom Center:
At other repositories:
  • BBC Written Archives Centre. Correspondence between Rupert Croft-Cooke and members of staff of the BBC, 1928-1962. Call Number: Radio contributors. Scriptwriters, file 1 & Talks, file 1.
  • Boston University, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. Rupert Croft-Crooke collection, 1930-1974
  • British Library. Department of Manuscripts:
    • Letter from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Gordon Bottomley. Call Number: In Add.MSS.88957/1/100.
    • Two letters from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Lord Alfred Douglas, 1922. Call Number: In Add.MSS.81740.
    • Letters, cards and notes from Rupert Croft-Cooke, mostly to Reginald Moore, 1 to Oliver Coburn, 1941-1951, undated. Call Number: In Add.MSS.79451-79472.
    • Letter from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Evelyn Waugh, 1951. Call Number: Add.MSS.81052, f. 39.
  • Brotherton Library:
    • Letter from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Thomas Moult. Call Number: In Moult Correspondence.
    • Letter from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Arthur Ransome, 1962. Call Number: In Ransome Correspondence.
  • Eton College. Library. A few notes on English literature / by Rupert Croft-Cooke, 58 pages, 1922. Call Number: MS 532.
  • Exeter University Library. Conduct unbecoming [novel] / by Rupert Croft-Cooke, galley proofs, 1975. Call Number: In EUL MS 232.
  • Huntington Library. Patrick Balfour, Baron Kinross, Papers, 1922-1976
  • National Library of Wales. Department of Manuscripts and Records:
    • Correspondence between Oliver Onions (1 letter) and Rupert Croft-Cooke (1 letter, 1 telegram), 1947-1949. Call Number: In NLW Ex 1993-4 (Oliver Onions papers).
    • Two letters from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Berta Ruck, 1968-1972. Call Number: In NLW Berta Ruck Papers 8 & 13.
  • University of Bradford. Library. Correspondence of Rupert Croft-Cooke in the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive, 1960. Call Number: In The Jacquetta Hawkes Archive: 15.
  • University of Durham. Library. Letter from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Claude Colleer Abbott, 1925? Call Number: In Abbott Papers, Box 16.
  • University of Exeter Archives. Papers of Rupert Croft-Cooke, 1922-1965
  • University of Oxford. Bodleian Library. Correspondence between Rupert Croft-Cooke and Messrs Sidgwick & Jackson, 1927-1960. Call Number: In MSS.Sidgwick & Jackson 62 & 164,fols.164-229.
  • University of Reading. Special Collections Service:
    • Fifteen letters from Rupert Croft-Cooke in the Bodley Head "Adult Editorial" files, 1963-1967. Call Number: In MS2606/1/48,145,232,416 & 1448.
    • Letter from Rupert Croft-Cooke to Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1938. Call Number: In MS1089.
    • Nineteen letters from Rupert Croft-Cooke to R. L. Mégroz, 1931-1948. Call Number: MS.1979/15,24,27,41,113/1 & 150/4.
  • Washington State Library. Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers, 1956-1977
  • William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. Wilde (Oscar) and his Literary Circle Collection: Correspondence

Separated Material

In addition to the Croft-Cooke Papers, the Ransom Center also holds related Croft-Cooke materials in the Library, Photography Collection, and the Vertical File Collection:
Books in the Center's library (263 items) represent many of Croft-Cooke’s own writings, including early and scarce publications, as well as The Croft-Cooke Gypsy Collection, which contains important published works on Romani history.
Photographs (9 items) include portraits of Nicholas Monsarrat (P1-P2); reproduction of Croft-Cooke's handwritten notation on front free endpaper of a copy of Same Way Home (P3); snapshots of Croft-Cooke and others (997:0105:0412-0413, 0415); and portraits of Croft-Cooke (997:0105:0414, 0416); partial roll of color negatives (997:0105:0417). Identified photographers include: Reprograph Studios, London (997:0105:0415).
Vertical File (3 boxes) includes items withdrawn from Croft-Cooke books as well as printed ephemera separated from the papers before 1990. Among these are articles about life in prison; articles on Lord Alfred Douglas; biographical information; boys’ school publications; book catalogues issued by Croft-Cooke; book-related material; brochures or pamphlets on madeira, port, sherry, and wines; circus programs; items from two years in Argentina, circa 1922-1924; posters for the novel Crusade, circa 1936; theatre programs; tickets, invitations, and clippings; and miscellaneous materials including publications La Estrella and Hush!


Brown, Eric, 1960- . "Rupert Croft-Cooke." Eric Brown (blog), November 11, 2019.
Evans, Curtis J., 1965- . "The Man Who Was Leo Bruce (Rupert Croft-Coke, 1903-1979)". The American Culture (blog), November 13, 2010.
Pearl, Nancy. Leo Bruce (Rupert Croft-Cooke). Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Mystery Writers 1920-1939, vol. 77, 1988.

Index Terms

HRC Guide Headings

Detective, Fantasy, and Science Fiction
Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, and Queer Studies
Literature: British and Irish
Oscar Wilde
Performing Arts

Container List