Alice Tisdale Hobart papers, 1916-1967  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Hobart, AliceTisdale
AliceTisdaleHobart papers
1916-1967 (inclusive)
19.5 linear feet, (10 containers)
Collection Number
Ax 197
AliceTisdaleHobart was a writer who wrote about her life in China; her most successful book is Oil for the lamps of China. The AliceTisdaleHobart papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, galley proofs, source materials, reviews, publicity materials, and copies of all books written by AliceTisdaleHobart.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries--SPC, 1299
University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 541-346-3068
Fax: 541-346-3485
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

AliceTisdaleHobart was born Alice Nourse in Lockport, New York on January 28, 1882, the second of three children of Edwin Henry and Harriett Augusta Beaman Nourse. When she was two years old her family moved to Chicago, where her father became a music teacher in the Chicago public school system. Her mother died when Alice was ten. Spinal meningitis in infancy and a fall when she was seventeen left Alice Nourse with frail health and back trouble which caused her to be semi-invalid at periods throughout her life.

Alice Nourse attended public schools in the Chicago area and after graduating from high school she enrolled at Northwestern University. Her father's death and her own poor health led her to withdraw before she had completed a full year. She entered the University of Chicago in 1904, but left without graduating to accept a position with the YWCA.

In 1908, Alice went to China to visit her sister, Mary, who was teaching at a girls' school in Hangchow. Entranced with the beauty and exoticism of China, Alice returned two years later to teach English at the same school. In Hangchow she met Earle TisdaleHobart, an executive of the Standard Oil Company of New York. They were married in Tientsin in 1914, and were posted by the company to Manchuria. They spent the early years of their marriage amid the turbulent events that followed the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1912. Spurred by her experience, AliceHobart began writing about her life in China.

In 1916, Mrs. Hobart submitted an account of her encounter with Manchurian bandits to the Atlantic Monthly where it was enthusiastically accepted by editor Ellery Sedgwick. Published as the first in a series called "Leaves From a Manchurian Diary," it was the beginning of Hobart's long career as an author. Her first book, Pioneering Where the World is Old, was based on the Atlantic series. It was published by Henry Holt in 1917.

Ill health and the demands of housekeeping in remote regions of China kept Hobart from writing for publication for several years thereafter. Her experiences as an oil executive's wife in Changsha provided material for her second book, By the City of the Long Sand, published by Macmillan in 1926.

In 1927 the Hobarts were forced to flee their home in Nanking when anti-foreign Nationalist soldiers attacked the city. Their hairbreadth escape over the city wall to waiting American gunboats was the climax of AliceHobart's next book, Within the Walls of Nanking (1928).

After the Nanking incident, during which Earle Hobart broke his ankle, the Hobarts went to Shanghai to recuperate. When it became apparent that the oil company was not going to give Earle a long-awaited position in Shanghai but was going to transfer him to a town which was in the path of approaching Communist troops, he resigned from the company and the Hobarts returned to the United States in the summer of 1927.

Earle's subsequent jobs took the Hobarts to Europe and then back to this country; Alice continued to write wherever they lived. Pidgin Cargo (1929), a novel about trade on the Yangtze River, was written while the Hobarts were still in China. The manuscript was rescued from the Nanking debacle by a servant and Hobart finished it during the months of recuperation in Shanghai. Oil For the Lamps of China (1933) told the story of an American businessman in China and how his and his wife's lives were consumed by the company for which he worked. Largely autobiographical, it was Hobart's most popular book, and her first to be made into a movie.

After Oil for the Lamps of China, AliceHobart published a new novel every two or three years. Always well received by critics and readers, her novels often were set in China and dealt with the relationships and tensions between East and West. She was not confined by this theme, however, and after she settled in California in the 1940s her topics included twentieth-century Mexico in The Peacock Sheds His Tail (1945), and agriculture in California in The Cup and the Sword (1942) and The Cleft Rock (1948).

By the time she died in 1967, AliceTisdaleHobart had published more than a dozen major novels, of which almost four million copies were sold.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The AliceTisdaleHobart papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, galley proofs, source materials, reviews, publicity materials, legal papers, and artwork. A collection of her books is catalogued separately from this collection. Many of the books in the collection are first editions inscribed by the author to her husband or brother.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically and is largely comprised of letters between Alice and Earle Hobart and Hobart's publishers. Manuscripts and galleys of her later books are included, as well as manuscripts by AliceHobart's sister, Mary Nourse, and the screenplay for This Earth Is Mine, a movie based on her novel The Cup and the Sword. Source materials include letters written by AliceHobart from China in the 1920s.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

A complete collection of books by AliceTisdaleHobart is located in the University of Oregon Libraries and can be accessed under separate headings in the online catalog.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action 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 University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AliceTisdaleHobart Papers, Ax 197, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Correspondence, 1916-1967Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
1 2
1 3
1 4
1 5
March, 1951-August, 1951
1 6
September, 1951-December, 1951
1 7
January, 1952-July, 1952
1 8
August, 1952-December, 1952
1 9
January, 1953-June, 1953
1 10
July, 1953-December, 1953
1 11
January, 1954-September, 1954
1 12
October, 1954-December, 1954
1 13
January, 1955-March, 1955
1 14
April, 1955-December, 1955
2 1
2 2
January, 1958-June, 1958
2 3
July, 1958-September, 1958
2 4
October, 1958-December, 1958
2 5
January, 1959-March, 1959
2 6
April, 1959-May, 1959
2 7
June, 1959-September, 1959
2 8
October, 1959-December, 1959
2 9
January, 1960-April, 1960
2 10
May, 1960-December, 1960
2 11
2 12
April, 1963-October, 1963
2 13
November, 1963-December, 1963
2 14

Series II:  ManuscriptsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
By AliceTisdaleHobart
The Cleft Rock
Box Folder
3 1
The Cup and the Sword
Box Folder
3 2
Pages 1-75
3 3
Pages 76-150
3 4
Pages 151-225
3 5
Pages 226-300
3 6
Pages 301-375
3 7
Pages 376-450
3 8
Pages 451-551
3 9
Page Revisions
Gusty's Child
Box Folder
3 10
Bound Manuscript
4 1
Page Revisions
4 2
Page Revisions
4 3
Page Revisions
Fifty Years of Writing
Box Folder
4 4
First Draft
4 5
Second Draft
4 6
Final Draft
4 7
Edited for Call Number
Innocent Dreamers
Box Folder
4 8
First Draft
4 9
Pages 1-50
4 10
Pages 51-100
4 11
Pages 101-150
4 12
Pages 151-200
4 13
Pages 201-250
5 1
Pages 251-300
5 2
Pages 301-350
5 3
Pages 351-384
5 4
5 5-6
Proof pages
The Peacock Sheds His Tail
Box Folder
5 7
Radio Script-Parts 1-2
5 8
Radio Script-Parts 3-5
Box Folder
5 9
Son of the Far Border
Venture into Darkness
Box Folder
6 1
Title page-50
6 2
Pages 51-100
6 3
Pages 101-150
6 4
Pages 151-200
6 5
Pages 201-250
6 6
Pages 251-281
6 7
Yang and Yin
Box Folder
6 8
Title page-40
6 9
Pages 41-80
6 10
Pages 81-122
By Mary Nourse
Ferment in the Far East
Box Folder
6 11
Pages 1-50
6 12
Pages 51-100
6 13
Pages 101-150
7 1
Pages 201-250
7 2
Pages 251-300
7 3
Pages 301-331
Box Folder
7 4
Wu Yi-Fang, Woman of Old and New China
By Other Writers
Box Folder
7 5
Scenario, "Turn to the Sun"
7 6
Screenplay, "This Earth is Mine" - First draft
7 7-8
Screenplay, "This Earth is Mine" - Final draft

Series III:  Source MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
7 9-10
Innocent Dreamers
7 11
River Supreme
8 1-2
The Serpent-Wreathed Staff
8 3-5
Within the Walls of Nanking
8 6

Series IV:  ReviewsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
8 7
By the City of the Long Sand
8 8
The Cleft Rock
8 9
Gusty's Child
8 10-11
Innocent Dreamers
9 1
Oil for the Lamps of China
9 2
The Peacock Sheds His Tail
9 3
The Serpent-Wreathed Staff
9 4
Venture Into Darkness
9 5-6
Yang and Yin

Series V:  PublicityReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
9 7
The Cleft Rock
9 8-10
The Cup and the Sword (The Earth is Mine)
10 1
Gusty's Child
10 2-3
Oil for the Lamps of China
10 4
The Peacock Sheds His Tail
10 5
Pioneering Where the World is Old/River Supreme
10 6-7
The Serpent-Wreathed Staff
10 8
Venture Into Darkness
10 9
Yang and Yin
10 10

Series VI:  Legal papersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
10 11-12
10 13
Wills and Royalties
10 14

Series VII:  Artwork and PublicityReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Artwork and Publicity

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • American literature--20th century
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • China--Fiction
  • Personal Names :
  • Hobart, Alice Tisdale--Archives
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Screenplays