Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers, 1956-1977

Overview of the Collection

Croft-Cooke, Rupert
Rupert Croft-Cooke Papers
1956-1977 (inclusive)
2 containers., (1 linear feet of shelf space.)
Collection Number
Cage 533
Correspondence and writings.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

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.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

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

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


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).

Acquisition Information

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

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

CorrespondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Joseph Susei Mari
Box Folder
1 1
undated; 1956-1963
1 2
1 3
Box Folder
1 4
Robert McKew
1 5
1 6

WritingsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 7
More Tales of a Wicked Uncle
1 8
Uncle Nick
2 1
Titled Poems
2 2
Untitled Poems
Box Folder
2 3
Book Reviews
2 4
Book Schemes
Books, Short Stories, Essays
Box Folder
2 5
Arnold Bennett
2 5
Conduct Unbecoming
2 6
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 7 (oversized)
The Unrecorded Life of Oscar Wilde
Box Folder
2 8
Mr. Pegasus
Box Folder
2 9

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Personal Names

  • Croft-Cooke, Rupert, 1903- --Archives (creator)


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