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Oliver Onions papers

Identifier: MSS 0492

Scope and Contents

The Oliver Onions Papers comprises .3 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, travel journals and ephemera related to the British novelist and short story writer Oliver Onions (1872-1961). The collection is divided into two series: Manuscripts and Travel Journals.

Series I. Manuscripts contains typescripts and typescript carbons of Onions’s writings. The manuscripts are undated, but most seem to date from the early 1930s--“House Full” and “The Cigarette-Case,” the latter first published in 1911, are likely earlier. Included in the series are typescripts for seven poems and eight short stories, some of which bear Onions’s autograph corrections.

Series II. Travel Journals includes two hand-written journals with notes on Onions’s travels to Milan (1927) and Vienna (1931), as well as a group of travel ephemera documenting his accommodations and activities while traveling in Vienna, Egypt, and Greece (1931-1934). Also included is a 66 pp. typescript of Onions’s travel notes from a trip to Greece in 1931, describing in detail his itinerary, his fellow travelers, his impressions of Greece and the Greek islands, and the various archeological ruins he visited along his trip. The notes are accompanied by 68 photographs of the ship, the S.S. Iphigenia, the port at Piraeus, Athens, the Acropolis, Crete, Knossos, and Corfu, and provide an excellent complement to Onions’s lively account of his voyage.


  • Creation: 1927-1938


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

The British writer George Oliver Onions was born November 13, 1872, in Bradford, England; he died April 9, 1961. After studying art at the National Arts Training Schools (now the Royal Academy) in London, and then in Paris, Onions began his career as a commercial artist. Onions legally changed his name to George Oliver in 1918, but continued to publish ghost stories, mysteries, and historical fiction, as Oliver Onions. During his early writing career Onions frequently published his short stories in magazines. His trilogy of novels--In Accordance with the Evidence (1910), The Debit Account (1913), and The Story of Louie (1913)--established Onions's reputation as a writer of psychological thrillers.

In 1909, Onions married the writer Berta Ruck (1878-1978). They had two sons, Arthur (b. 1912) and William (b. 1913). With Onions’s assistance, Ruck revised her story “His Official Fiancée,” which had been serialized in Home Chat in 1912, for publication in book form. The novel, which appeared two years later, was a success in both Great Britain and the United States, and it began Ruck’s prolific career as a popular writer. Ruck was also a frequent traveler, but the couple appear to have traveled separately (see MSS 0362 Berta Ruck travel journals).

Onions enjoyed a long career as a popular author, publishing over forty novels and short stories collections, receiving, in 1946, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, for his novel Poor Man's Tapestry.

Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2004. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2004."Oliver Onions." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2004. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2 July 2004 .“Oliver Onions, 87, British Novelist.” New York Times. 10 Apr 1961: 31.


.3 linear foot (1 box)


Short stories and poetry typescripts as well as travel ephemera and journals written in the first half of the 20th century by British novelist and short story writer Oliver Onions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, January 2003

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0362, Berta Ruck travel journals

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Processing Information

Processed by Gerald Cloud. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, November 2019.

Finding aid for Oliver Onions papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2019 November
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA