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Bruce Marshall Papers

Identifier: GTM-840208

Scope and Contents

The Bruce Marshall Papers primarily consist of correspondence, manuscripts and news clippings, all tracing Burce Marshall's career as an author from 1924 until his death in 1987.

The Bruce A. Marshall Papers are arranged in series according to subject. There is a Manuscript series, a Correspondence series, a Clippings series and a small Thesis series.

The Manuscripts series comprises the first eight boxes of the collection. Contained in it are different drafts of Marshall's books at various stages of publication and editing. The manuscripts range from handwritten notes and manuscripts of works which don't appear to have been published (e.g., Aspects and The Cure of Ars) to a printer's proof of "The Yellow Streak." Among the more interesting parts of the series is a draft of "Teresa Byrne," written by Marshall under a pseudonym and then later reworked and publised as "Prayer for a Concubine." The jewel of the series, however, is a manuscript labelled "The White Rabbit" in the words of F.F. E. Yeo-Thomas." With this are notes and letters written by Yeo-Thomas for Marshall which clarify details in his story so that marshall could create the final product. Many of Marshall's notes on the work are also included, along with some notes written by Marshall and annotated by Yeo-Thomas. Other titles in the series are those such as "Father Malachy's Miracle," "The Bank Audit" and "The Black Oxen."

The Correspondence series consists of three boxes, containing correspondence to and from Bruce Marshall from 1931, 1951 and 1960-1987. The letters from 1931 are mainly letters to Marshall concerning the original publication and the success of "Father Malachy's Miracle." There is also discussion of an autobiography Marshall wrote after "Malachy" which publishers rejected because it was too controversial (No Apology). Among these letters are many congratulations, including a handwritten letter from Evelyn Waugh and a few typewritten letters from Sir Arnold Lunn. There is a gap in the correspondence between this year and 1951, for which there are only two letters. There is again a gap of several years, and the correspondence picls up again in 1960.

Over the twenty seven years of correspondence from 1960-1987, we see in detail the process of publication of Marshall's works. This includes communication between Marshall and his various agents (David Higham and Peter Janson-Smith in Great Britain, Erich Linder in Italy, Armitage Watkins in New York, etc.); and between Marshall and his publishers (Constable, Doubleday, Houghton Mifflin, Robert Hale, etc.). As often as he attains success in having works publishes, we also see him fail on several occasions. We also see rights for a musical version of Father Malachy's Miracle by Robert Wright and George Forrest discussed and many royalties statements for books published all over Europe and in the United States.

Also in the Correspondence series during these years there is a large number of personal letters between Marshall and friends. Among the more prominent of the correspondents is Madelaine Duke, Paul Scott, John Howard Griffin, Geddes MacGregor and Rene Raymond. Other interesting correspondents include Monseignor Joseph B. Lux, Barbara Yeo-Thomas, Mary (Leonard) Pritchett, and Sylvia Raymond. As Marshall gets older, he nejoys reminiscing, and many old acquaintances from both world wars make contact with Marshall. There is also a large amount of fan mail, ranging from a woman who claims Marshall's books helped her get over a clinical depression to the frequent autograph collector.

The Clippings series consists of thirteen scrapbooks kept by Marshall with news clippings, mostly regarding his books. While much of the view of Marshall's earlier career is obscured by the absence of his correspondence from the 1920s to the 1950s, the clippings fill in many of the gaps. It is here that we see the public's response to Marshall's work in the first years of his career and certain titles of his books never mentioned in the correspondence ("The Stooping Venus," "Delilah Upside Down," "Luckypenny," etc.). We also see events following the publication of some of his books, as George Brown's School Days is banned in Ireland (Box 13, Folder 1, @ 1945) and "The Fair Bride" is removed from a public library in Scotland with great controversy (Box 13, Folder 4, @ 1954).

The Thesis series consists of two doctoral dissertations about Marshall's works, one by a German student and the other by an Italian student. Both theses are written in the authors' native languages and both focus their discussion on Marshall's use of religion in his books.


  • 1924 - 1987
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1979


Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

The rights to the works of Bruce Marshall are managed by David Higham Associates Limited.

Biogrpahical note

Burce Marshall's career as a successful writer began in 1924 with the publication of the novel, "This Sorry Scheme." A stream of novels soon followed, but none of the fiction he wrote before World War II gained as much notoriety or staying power as "Father Malachy's Miracle." It was not until after the war that Marshall was able to become a writer full-time, giving up his work as an accountant. Among his better known works after the Second World war is "The White Rabbit," a biography of Wing Commander F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas, describing in vivid detail his exploits and sufferings while in the Resistance during the War (1953). A string of books followed over the next 34 years, most of which were novels.

Three important themes which run through the works of Bruce Marshall are Catholicism, a Scottish heritage and war and adventure, and all are clearly exhibited in their relation to Marshall's life in the Papers.

Marshall was born in Scotland near Edinburgh in 1899 and received his education there, and in 1917 Marshall was received into the Roman Catholic Church. His studies at St. Andrews were interrupted by the First World War in which he served in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Injuries received in the War led to the amputation of a leg, which later prevented him from serving on the Continent in the Second World War. Marshall returned to Scotland after the First World War and completed his education to become an accountant. He soon moved to Paris, and he lived in France for the rest of his life, except during the Second World War when he returned to Great Britain. During this period he served in the Intelligence division of the British army. Marshall's ties to Great Britain remained strong, and most of his correspondents were British. His personal itnerest in the church is reflected in the Papers by his involvement in the movement to reinstate the Latin Mass after the Second Vatican Council had abolished it.

The theme of much of Marshall's works is religions, with a focus on Roman Catholicism. His first great success, "Father Malachy's Miracle," is about a Benedictine monk in Scotland who encounters a tavern full of men and women of modern vices. A number of his later novels again deal with clergymen and women who are faced with temptation but always manage to overcome it (e.g., "The World, the Flesh & Father Smith" (1945), "A Threat of Scarlet" (1959), "Father Hilary's Holiday" (1965), "Month of the Falling Leaves" (1963)). Other books in the same vein deal more with Catholic doctrine than with personal responsibility, such as "The Bishop" (1973), "Peter the Second" (1975), "Urban the Nineth" (1972), and "Marx the First" (1975).

Marshall's feelings about the Church exhibit themselves in the Papers throughout, but become the most pronounced in the early 1970's when he became involved with Una Voce and the Latin Mass Society. Marshall corresponded frequently with members of both organizations and was even named president of Una Voce's Scottish branch in June 1973. His involvement on the political front of this movement generally appeared in the form of his books rather than in direct correspondence with Church officials.

Like many expatriots, Bruce Marshall's love for his homeland was deep, and the fact that most of his correspondents were British and that most of his books were set in Great Britain show this. The work which best shows Marshall's affection for Scotland may be "The Black Oxen" (1971), which Marshall billed as a Scottish epic.

Marshall's interest in war and adventure can be seen in the people he was corresponding with and in many of his books. Bruce Marshall's friendship with Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas is the most obvious example of this. The Manuscript series contains not only Marshall's manuscript of "The White Rabbit," but Yeo-Thomas' own original version of his adventures along with a set of his notes to Marshall clarifying certain incidents. Unfortunately, the greater part of the correspondence in the collection does not begin until the death of Yeo-Thomas, but the Commander's wife, Barbara Yeo-Thomas, keeps in touch with Marshall for many years following. Marshall also had a great deal of correspondence with two other authors of adventure novels, Madelaine Duke and Rene Raymond. Duke's letters are especially interesting and there are many of them. Often she writes about her experiences with the Nazis and about her adventure works. There are also a few letters from Count Nikolai Tolstoy who is doing research on Russian repatriation at the close of the Second World war. Several of Marshall's books have themes about espionage and intrigue, such as "Month of the Falling Leaves" (1963), "Operation Iscariot" (1973), "The Bank Audit" (1959), and "Only Fade Away" (1952).


15.75 Cubic Feet (19 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Bruce Marshall, July 1984. Additional manuscripts donated by Leslie Ferrar, 2023.

Processing Information

The collection is comprised of two accessions, GTM-840208 and GTM-20230731. GTM-20230731 consists of manuscripts that have been minimally processed. They are housed in boxes 16-19 and have been integrated into the Manuscripts series of the collection.

The collection has been rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders.

Bruce Marshall Papers
Michael J. North
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Accession GTM-20230731 added to the collection and finding aid edited for DACS-compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057