Guide to the Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers 1956-1977
Cage 533

Summary Information

Repository
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Creator
Croft-Cooke, Rupert
Title
Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers
ID
Cage 533
Date [inclusive]
1956-1977
Extent
2.0 containers.
General Physical Description note
1 linear feet of shelf space.
Language
English
Abstract
Correspondence and writings.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 533, Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers . Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Rupert Croft-Cooke was born June 30, 1903 in Edenbridge, Kent, and was educated at Tonbridge School and Wellington College. He began teaching when he was seventeen. He went to Paris that year as a private tutor, then spent two years in Buenos Aires, where besides teaching English he founded and edited the journal La Estrella. In 1925 he returned to London and pursued a career as a free-lance journalist and writer. Soon after, he opened a bookshop in Rochester, Kent, and took up the antiquarian book trade. At the same time he also entered the field of broadcasting, giving a series of radio talks on psychology. In 1930 he went abroad again, spending a year in Germany, writing, and later lecturing in English in Switzerland and Spain. He joined the British Army in 1940 and saw service in Africa and India. After his discharge in 1946 he returned to writing and produced several works reflecting his military experience. He became the book critic for  The Sketch in 1947, a position he held until 1953. He died June 10, 1979.

One of the most prolific writers for the British mass market in the 20th century, Croft-Cooke produced countless magazine and journal articles and more than 125 books--everything from co-books to political commentary, from books about circuses to steamy romances. His greatest success, however, came in the genre of detective fiction; he published nearly thirty detective novels, mysteries and thrillers.

His first book, Songs of a Sussex Tramp, a collection of poetry, was published in 1922, when he was nineteen. When, shortly after the appearance of his Songs, another of his works precipitated a suit for slander, his publisher, in order to recoup losses he had suffered, forced Croft-Cooke to produce ten books without renumeration. After a self-imposed two year-long exile in Argentina, he returned to England in 1925. He continued to write and his work appeared in the literary magazines New Writing, Adelphi, Chapbook, The New Coterie and English Review. In the late 1920s several of his pieces were published in the American magazine, Poetry.

With the coming of the Great Depression in the 1930s, however, Croft-Cooke rejected the "cult of poetry and literature" and embraced the "cult of experience." Characterizing himself as a "writer for the middle class," he produced numerous works in diverse genres for the mass market. In addition to more than twenty volumes of autobiographical writing and several romantic novels, he also wrote books on travel, food and wine, circus life and gypsies. He explored the politics of the Hitler era, creating a near best-seller in The Man in Europe, as well as  Rule Britannia, and  The Last Days of Madrid. Croft-Cooke's greatest popularity with both British and American readers was based on his detective fiction and thrillers. Using the pseudonym Leo Bruce, he wrote two series of detective novels. The first, begun in 1936, was based on the adventures of Sergeant Beef, a bumbling village policeman. His second sleuth was introduced in 1952. This new hero, Carolus Deane, a witty and urbane gentleman, was the antithesis of Sergeant Beef. Both series of novels created Croft-Cooke's greatest literary success.

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Arrangement note

The papers of Rupert Croft-Cooke consist of two series, Correspondence and Writings. The Correspondence series consists of personal letters written by Croft-Cooke. The letters are arranged alphabetically by recipient and chronologically within the subseries. The bulk of the letters are written to Joseph Susei Mari, Croft-Cooke's secretary and companion of more than twenty years.

The Writings series, most of which is undated, is organized into Poetry and Prose. The Poetry subseries is organized into two major works--" More Tales of a Wicked Uncle" and "  Uncle Nick"--followed by Titled Poems and Untitled Poems. The material in Titled Poems is arranged alphabetically by title of the piece. In a few instances, two or more titled pieces have been written on one sheet of paper. These pages have been filed after the titled pieces and arranged alphabetically by the title of the first poem on the page. Material in Untitled Poems is arranged alphabetically by the first or key word in the first line of the poem.

The Prose subseries consists of Book Reviews; Book Schemes; Books, Short Stories and Essays; Plays; and Miscellany. The material in these groups is arranged alphabetically by title of the work. The Book Reviews are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author whose work is reviewed rather than by the title of the review. The Miscellany series consists of short reviews of Croft-Cooke's novels which were published in the 1970s, and portions of untitled essays. This material is arranged chronologically. Most of the titled pieces in the Prose subseries include a holograph and a typescript copy of the work. Notable in this section are six holograph chapters and fourteen typescript chapters of Croft-Cooke's novel Conduct Unbecoming (1975).

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1987

http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/masc
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610
509-335-6691
mascref@wsu.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The papers of Rupert Croft-Cooke were purchased from a California bookseller in 1984 and 1986.

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Controlled Access Headings

Occupation(s)

  • Authors, English--20th century--Correspondence

Personal Name(s)

  • Croft-Cooke, Rupert, 1903- --Archives

Subject(s)

  • Literature

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Collection Inventory

Correspondence 

Joseph Susei Mari 

Box Folder

 undated 1956-1963 

1 1

 1966-1968 

1 2

 1971-1975 

1 3
Box Folder

Robert McKew 1966 

1 4

Miscellany undated 

1 5

Envelopes 1960-1975 

1 6

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Writings 

Poetry 

Box Folder

More Tales of a Wicked Uncle 

1 7

Uncle Nick 

1 8

Titled Poems 

2 1

Untitled Poems 

2 2

Prose 

Box Folder

Book Reviews 

2 3

Book Schemes 

2 4

Books, Short Stories, Essays 

Box Folder

Arnold Bennett 

2 5

Conduct Unbecoming 

2 5

Do You Want a Guide? 

2 6

Enfant Terrible 

2 6

Firing Squad 

2 6

List of Words 

2 6

Old Lordliness 

2 6

Our Notebook 

2 6

Uphill to Nowhere 

2 6

The Unrecorded Life of Oscar Wilde 

2 7 (oversized)

Plays 

Box Folder

Mr. Pegasus 

2 8
Box Folder

Miscellany 

2 9

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