Fonds RC0017 - John Connell fonds

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John Connell fonds

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  • 1910-1980 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

8.39 m of textual records, graphic material and sound recordings

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Connell, whose real name was John Henry Robertson, was born in 1909 in the West Indies. He was educated at Loretto School in Scotland and Balliol College, Oxford, whence he emerged B.A. to join the London Evening News as a reporter in 1932. He wrote several novels during the 1930s, the first being Lindesay. During his wartime service, Connell acted as Chief Military Censor in India, and directed the British propaganda campaign in the Middle East which was designed to assure the Arab community of Britain's imminent victory. Thereafter the war exercised a strong hold on Connell's mind, evident in the military biographies he wrote later and in his choice of books for review in the London Evening News. In 1950 he won a literary prize for his book W.E. Henley, and in 1956 contributed the booklet on Churchill to the Writer's and Their Work series. Connell's last two works were Auchinleck (1959), and Wavell (1964). Connell died on October 1965, before he could complete the second volume of Wavell.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds contains many manuscripts of Connell's own books and two which he ghosted, the memoirs of the Aga Kahn and Sir Roy Welensky. There is much correspondence with the literary, political and military world described, amounting to some 14,000 pieces. Its Commonwealth associations include Rhodesia, in the Welensky files; India, in the Aga Kahn, Wavell and Auchinleck files; Canada; Kenya and Nyasaland; and Malaysia and the defence of the British Empire. His library has, except for some rare editions, been dispersed into the Mills Library stacks. The books that accompanied the third accrual have been listed but not yet catalogued.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first two accruals were acquired from Bertram Rota Ltd. in 1969 and 1987. The third and fourth accruals were acquired from Michael Belkine, Connell's stepson, in December 1993 and 1995.


There have been four accruals. The first two accruals have been combined and arranged into seven series consisting of: published manuscripts and typescripts; unpublished manuscripts and typescripts; correspondence relating to special subjects, general and literary; radio, television and journalism; personal and miscellaneous files; John Connell, J.A. Brown and miscellaneous correspondence; newspaper articles and press cuttings. The third accrual (01-1994) has been arranged into the following series: correspondence, manuscripts, common place books, photographs, address books, audio reel tapes, realia and materials removed from Connell's books. A separate listing of the books is available. The fourth accrual (52-1995) consists of correspondence including a brief addendum concerning materials that were overlooked from the first two accruals.

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There are no access restrictions.

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Finding aids

First and Second Accruals: Finding Aid
Third Accrual: Finding Aid
Fourth Accrual and Addendum to First and Second Accruals: Finding Aid

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Further accruals are expected.

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