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National Library of Wales
Ruck, Berta, archive

Reference code(s): GB 0210 BERTRUCK

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Berta Ruck Archive

Short Title: Ruck, Berta, archive

Creation date(s): [c. 1890]-[1974x1978]

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 62 volumes

Name of creator(s): Berta Ruck


Administrative/Biographical history: Berta Ruck (1878-1978), novelist, was born Amy Roberta Ruck in the Punjab, India, on 2 August 1878. She was the eldest of the eight children of Lieutenant (later Colonel) Arthur Ashley Ruck (1847-1939) of Esgair and Pantlludw, Merioneth, and Elizabeth Eleanor (née D'Arcy, 1852-1928). She came to Britain aged two to live with her grandmother in Merioneth, then on her father's return from India the family moved to Lancashire. In 1888 Col. Ruck was appointed Chief Constable of Caernarvonshire and the rest of Ruck's childhood was spent in Caernarfon and Bangor, where she attended St Winifred's School as a boarder. She then studied at Lambeth School of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art (from 1901) and at the Académie Colarossi in Paris (1904-5). In 1909 she married fellow novelist and Slade alumnus Oliver Onions (1873-1961) (he changed his name by deed poll to George Oliver in 1918). They had two children, (George) Arthur Oliver (b. 1912) and William Richard ('Bill') Oliver (1913-2007). Meanwhile Merioneth continued to play an important part in Ruck's life with her parents having returned permanently to Esgair in 1912.
In 1903 Ruck began a career as an illustrator for magazines such as The Idler and The Jabberwock. From 1905 she began to contribute short stories and serials to magazines such as Home Chat. One such serial was published as a full-length novel, His Official Fiancée (London, 1914), and its success marked the beginning of Ruck's career as a popular romantic novelist. She produced up to three books annually, as well as short stories and articles; her last novel, Shopping for a Husband (London, 1967), appeared when she was nearly ninety. She also published several memoir-style works: A Story-Teller Tells the Truth (London, 1935), A Smile for the Past (London, 1959), A Trickle of Welsh Blood (London, 1967), An Asset to Wales (London, 1970), and Ancestral Voices (1972). In later life she was a public speaker and occasional radio broadcaster and in 1970 she appeared in a documentary for the television series Yesterday's Witness.
Between the wars she lived in Henley on Thames, Windsor and Hampstead and was active in London society; she was friends with various writers, artists, actors, pilots and other notables of the day. Her interests included aviation; her son Bill became an RAF and airline pilot and she herself enjoyed flying. She travelled widely in Europe, especially France, Germany and Austria (she was particularly fond of Vienna where she stayed often and had many friends) and visited the United States. In September 1939, with the outbreak of war, she and her husband left London and settled in Aberdyfi, Merioneth, where she lived for her remaining years. She died a few days after her one-hundredth birthday in 1978.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers, [c. 1890]-[1974x1978], of Berta Ruck, including notebooks containing journal entries, ideas for fiction, newspaper cuttings and ephemera, 1906-1973 (with gaps); literary and autobiographical manuscripts, typescripts and photocopies, [1950x1955]-[1974x1978]; correspondence, [c. 1890]-[1972]; poetry, [1920s]-[1930s]; and sketches, [1900x1920].


Language/scripts of material: English, German, French, some Welsh, Italian, Hungarian and Swedish.

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into two groups: Berta Ruck manuscripts and Berta Ruck papers.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Berta Ruck copyright can be found at (viewed September 2009).

Finding aids: The contents of NLW MSS 23306-9, 23376-8, 23437B, 23523B, 23569-73 are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003).


Accruals: No accruals expected.

Archival history: Purchased (with the exception of NLW MSS 20677C and 24031D) by Fortune Green Bookshop, London, in several groups over a number of years from Berta Ruck's grand-daughter.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Berta Ruck, Aberdovey, May 1971 (NLW MS 20677C); purchased from Fortune Green Bookshop, London, February 1995 (NLW MSS 23306-9), April 1995 (NLW MSS 23376-8), September 1995 (NLW MS 23437B), April 1996 (NLW MS 23523B), December 1996 (NLW MSS 23569-73), May 1998 (NLW MSS 23715-27), August 1998 (NLW MSS 23733-44, 23746E, Berta Ruck papers 10), January 1999 (NLW MSS 23745D, 23780-3, Berta Ruck papers 1-9, 11-14), and September 1999 (NLW MS 23790C); purchased from C. Bebbington, A Piece of History, Chichester, August 2012 (NLW MS 24031D).


Related material: For other papers of Berta Ruck see NLW MS 22003E, ff. 154-62, NLW MS 23699E, ff. 31-32, 100, NLW ex 1994, and the currently uncatalogued NLW MSS 18954B, 20806-7; an album and family photographs, including a framed colour photograph of Ruck (0199900916-17), and a sketchbook (006299025), are also in NLW. Other notebooks of Berta Ruck, 1928-1929, 1934, 1937, are Newark, Delaware, University of Delaware Library Special Collections, Berta Ruck Travel Journals 1-6.

Publication note: Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, 'Berta Ruck (1878-1978) of Aberdyfi: Novelist', Journal of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society, 15 (2007), 210-219.


Note: Title based on contents.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS, and revised by Rhys Morgan Jones. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography WWW site; Berta Ruck, A Story-Teller Tells the Truth (London, 1935).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2009, April 2010 and January 2013

Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
Drawing | 20th century
English fiction | 20th century
English poetry | 20th century
Love stories, English
Ruck, Berta, | 1878-1978 | Archives
Ruck, Berta, | 1878-1978 | Correspondence
Ruck, Berta, | 1878-1978 | Diaries
Ruck, Berta, | 1878-1978 | Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.

Personal names
Ruck , Berta , 1878-1978

Corporate names

Aberdyfi (Wales)
Austria ()
France ()
Germany ()
Merioneth (Wales)
United States ()
Vienna (Austria)

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