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Peter Owen (Firm):

An Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Peter Owen (Firm), 1951-
Title: Peter Owen (Firm) Records
Dates: 1945-2006, undated
Extent: 113 document boxes (47.56 linear feet) and 1 electronic file (4.2 MB)
Abstract: The records of the British publishing firm founded in 1951 by Peter Owen (1927-2016) include correspondence with authors along with manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, and production files for various works. Well represented in these earliest acquisitions of the records are Paul and Jane Bowles, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Herman Hesse, Henry Miller, Yukio Mishima, Anaïs Nin, Ezra Pound, and Tarjei Vesaas. These holdings are complemented by Additions to the Peter Owen Records, which include seven subsequent acquisitions of additional records.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-03239
Language: English, French, German, Spanish
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials. To request access to electronic files, please email Reference.
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. Certain restrictions apply to the use of electronic files. Researchers must agree to the Materials Use Policy for Electronic Files before accessing them. Original computer disks and forensic disk images are restricted. Copying electronic files, including screenshots and printouts, is not permitted.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation: Peter Owen (Firm) Records (Manuscript Collection MS-03239). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Purchases and gifts, 1968-1978 (R4197, R5008, Gift 1972, R5914, R8238); Additions to the Peter Owen Records: purchases and gifts, 1977-2020 (R7607, G2440, G2446, R14673, R15019, R15423, 2010-03-013-P).
Processed by: Joan Sibley and Richard Workman, 2023. Note: This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. It is a draft finding aid with item- or group-level descriptions input from the card catalog, but they have not have been reviewed for accuracy against the physical items. Folders, sleeves, and other collection housings have not yet been upgraded to current standards. 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. Born digital materials processed, arranged, and described by Brenna Edwards, 2023.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The Peter Owen Records, 1945-1976, include the British publishing firm’s correspondence with authors, editors, translators, printers, booksellers, and others; works by authors represented by manuscripts, typescripts, galley proofs, page proofs and other publication matter such as indexes and illustrations; and production files documenting the process of preparing and publishing books. Dominant in these earliest acquisitions of the records are Jane and Paul Bowles, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Herman Hesse, Henry Miller, Yukio Mishima, Anaïs Nin, Ezra Pound, and Tarjei Vesaas. The records are arranged in three series: I. Letters (outgoing correspondence), 1954-1970; II. Recipients (incoming correspondence), 1948-1976; and III. Miscellaneous (works and correspondence by others), 1945-1973.
This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. 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.
The Peter Owen firm largely published literary works; works in translation (especially of Japanese, South American, Scandinavian, and Eastern European writers); biographies and autobiographies; and other non-fiction works. Owen was the chief editor, but employed several notable editors such as Elizabeth Berridge, Dan Franklin, Michael Levien, Beatrice Musgrave, and Muriel Spark who are represented in these records.
Some of the additional authors represented in the records but not already mentioned include James Agee, Miguel Angel Asturias, William Butler, Blaise Cendrars, Ithell Colquhoun, Jessie Crosland, Margaret Crosland, Anita Desai, Alexandre Dumas, Jean Giono, William Goyen, Lillian Halegua, Rayner Heppenstall, Anna Kavan, Vernon Lee, József Lengyel, George Brown Mair, Margaret Morris, Sōseki Natsume, Norman Newton, Cesare Pavese, Marquis de Sade, Cora Sandel, George Bernard Shaw, Wallace Thompson, Lady Clara Coltman Rogers Vyvyan, and Monique Wittig. A few manuscripts by Peter Owen are also present.
Publications in the records also represent the work of many translators: Claribel Alegria, Marguerite Alexieva, Miriam Arad, Paul Britten Austin, M. Barnes, Wade Baskin, A. Craig Bell, Paul Bowles, Geoffrey Bownas, Herman Briffault, Alan Brown, Renaud Bruce, Margaret Crosland, Ilona Duczynska, Geoffrey Dutton, Darwin J. Flakoll, Norman Glass, Richard A. Hillard, Mark Hollebone, Paula Hostrup-Jessen, David Le Vay, Tai-yi Lin, Edwin McClellan, Robin Magowan, Francis Mathy, Igor Mezhakoff-Koriakin, A. E. (Alma Elizabeth) Murch, R. B. Powell, R. W. Plummer, Gregory Rabassa, E. H. Ramsden, Elizabeth Rokkan, Nina Rootes, T. Støverud, W. J. Strachan, Grace Thornton, Charles Frederick Usborne, V. H. Viglielmo, and William Weaver. The works include translations into English from Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Flemish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Moghrebi, Norwegian, Punjabi, Romanian, and Swedish.
The records also include non-fiction works on Samuel Beckett, Emily Brontë, Marc Chagall, Colette, Jean Genet, Hermann Hesse, Somerset Maugham, Carson McCullers, Arthur Miller, J. D. Salinger, Peter Ustinov, Richard Wagner, Tennessee Williams, and Virginia Woolf. Books on varied topics such as abortion law, contraception, euthanasia, sexuality, and the Vietnam War are also present.
Authors of interest in the area of LGBTQ Studies represented in the records include Burt Blechman, Jane and Paul Bowles, Jean Cocteau, Colette, William Goyen, and Monique Wittig. Science fiction writers include William Butler and William Dexter.

Related Material

University of Delaware. Peter Owen publishing records, 1951-1995
University of Reading. Peter Owen Ltd. Archive, 1951-1989

Separated Material

The Ransom Center Art Collection contains 41 items for the Peter Owen firm, including illustrations, book jacket designs, and cover illustrations that are unattributed.


Owen, Peter, 1927-2016. "Peter Owen Limited." British Literary Publishing Houses, 1881-1965, edited by Jonathan Rose and Patricia J. Anderson. Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 112. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991.

HRC Guide Headings


Detective, Fantasy, and Science Fiction
LGBTQ Studies
Literature: American
Literature: British and Irish
Literature: French
Literature: International

Container List

Series III. Miscellaneous, 1945-2006, undated:

Note: The original alphabetical arrangement by author of the following files has been retained. To aid in searching, the original author name forms are now followed by a slash ( / ) to add any current name authority form. These are especially useful when the current name form has radically changed, such as:
  • Belser, Reimond Karel Maria de / now Ruyslinck, Ward;

  • Edmonds, Helen Woods / now Kavan, Anna;

  • Fabricius, Sara / now Sandel, Cora;

  • Paget, Violet / now Lee, Vernon; and

  • Pritchard, William Thomas / now Dexter, William.