The Bruce Marshall Papers

Biographical Note: Bruce 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 the Second World War gained as much notoriety or staying power as Father Malachy's Miracle (1931). It was not until after the Second World 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 (1953), 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 interest in the Church is reflected in the Papers by his involvement in Una Voce and the Latin Mass Society.

The theme of much of Marshall's works is religion, 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 Thread 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 Ninth (1972) and Marx the First (1975).

Marshall's feelings about the Church exhibit themselves in the Papers throughout, but become 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 René 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).


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