University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

John Leonard Beevers:

An Inventory of His Papers in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Beevers, John Leonard, 1911-1975
Title: John Leonard Beevers Papers
Dates: 1926-1984
Abstract: The John Leonard Beevers Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, legal and financial documents, and photographic and printed material that document the personal lives and literary careers of John Beevers and his two wives, Marjorie Pollard Beevers and Marjorie Broadbridge Beevers, from 1926 to 1984. The material mostly deals with the personal affairs and opinions of John Beevers and less with his writing life.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC03-A17
Extent: 15 boxes (6.25 linear feet), 1 oversize folder
Language: English
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Biographical Sketch

John Leonard Beevers was born on 18 October 1911 in Gildersome, Yorkshire, to John Leonard Beevers, a police inspector, and Esther Schofield Beevers. Restless as a boy, he led a small gang that engaged in delinquent behavior and petty theft. His youthful hysteria and arrogance continued through his time at Queens College, Cambridge, where he took an M.A. in English with first class honors in 1933.

Beevers married Marjorie Pollard in 1934. He published his first book, World Without Faith, a defense of free thought over structured ideology, the following year. Beevers also began his journalism career at this time with stints on several newspapers. He worked exclusively for the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1941 to 1969.

John Beevers embraced revolutionary Communism in the 1930s, but converted to Roman Catholicism sometime in the 1940s. Although nominally a Catholic, Beevers had an ambiguous relationship to the church. While he admired its theology and the lives of Catholic saints, Beevers’s critical and lascivious nature prevented him from fully committing to the faith, particularly in its moral elements. Marjorie Beevers demonstrated a greater devotion to Roman Catholicism than her husband.

John Beevers aspired to write fiction and poetry, but never had much success in these genres. He privately printed a volume of poetry, The Dark Emperor, under the pseudonym John Clayton in 1947, but failed to publish any more imaginative literature. Instead, Beevers turned to writing biographies of Roman Catholic saints, beginning with Storm of Glory: St. Therese of Lisieux (1949). John Beevers is best known for his 15 works on saints’ lives, Marian apparitions, and translations of Catholic theological treatises. He has been credited with presenting balanced accounts of his subjects, avoiding both brusque skepticism and unquestioning piety.

John and Marjorie Beevers had one daughter, Susan Jane. Marjorie Beevers died in 1962. John Beevers married his mistress, Marjorie Broadbridge, the following year. He continued writing until his death on 13 September 1975.

Scope and Contents

The John Leonard Beevers Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, legal and financial documents, and photographic and printed material that document the personal lives and literary careers of John Beevers and his two wives, Marjorie Pollard Beevers and Marjorie Broadbridge Beevers, from 1926 to 1984. The material mostly deals with the personal affairs and opinions of John Beevers and less with his writing life. The papers are arranged in five series: I. Correspondence, 1931-1975 (9 boxes); Series II. Works, 1926-1976 (3.5 boxes); Series III. Personal, 1927-1975 (.5 box); Series IV. Marjorie Pollard Beevers, 1928-1962 (1 box); Series V. Marjorie Broadbridge Beevers, 1952-1984 (1 box); and Series VI. Susan Beevers, 1946-1957 (2 folders). Papers within the three series devoted to his wives and daughter are arranged in the same order as Beevers's series: correspondence followed by works, if present, and then personal papers. Correspondence is filed alphabetically by correspondent, with outgoing correspondence interfiled with incoming letters.

The bulk of the collection consists of Beevers's correspondence with his two wives, both before and after marriage. He worked in Manchester and then in London, his wives lived at their country home in Baughurst Parish, Hampshire, and most of the letters are concerned with routine matters: family concerns, personal and business schedules, meetings with friends, shopping, and--one of Beevers's strongest passions--food; he seldom refers to his writing. Most of the rest of the correspondence is from Sylvester Mooney, abbot of Douai Abbey in Woolhampton near Reading, who was a friend and advisor to both Beevers and his first wife; the collection includes only Mooney's letters and none to Mooney from either John or Marjorie Beevers. Mooney's letters to John concern the subjects of John's books, while those to Marjorie respond to her confidences about marital and spiritual problems.

In addition to manuscripts for three of his published works, the collection contains several drafts of an unpublished novel about the emperor Tiberius, and several stories and sketches with strong sexual content and a focus on sadism and flagellation, interests that appear also in his letters to Marjorie Broadbridge. The diaries are devoted to daily routines, especially eating and drinking; they shed no light on his writing or on his career in journalism.



Open for research

Index Terms

Beevers, Marjorie Broadbridge.
Beevers, Marjorie Pollard.
Mooney, Sylvester
Catholic Church.
England -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
Document Types

Administrative Information


Gift, 1989 (G2181)

Processed by:

Hans Rasmussen, Skye Thomsen, Colleen Whitney, 1999; Richard Workman, 2003

Container List


Series I. Correspondence, 1931-1975, n.d.

Box Folder
1 1 A-M
Beevers, Marjorie Broadbridge, 1949-1975, n.d.
2 1949-1959
3 1960-1961
4 1962
5 1963-1969
6 1970-1975
7 Undated
Beevers, Marjorie Pollard, 1933-1962, n.d.
8 Apr.-May 1933
Box Folder
2 1 June 1933
2 1-15 July 1933
3 16-31 July 1933
4 1-16 Aug. 1933
5 17-31 Aug. 1933
Box Folder
3 1 Sept. 1933
2 Nov. 1933-Aug. 1941
3 Sept. 1941
4 Oct.-Nov. 1941
5 Dec. 1941
Box Folder
4 1 Jan.-Feb. 1942
2 March-May 1942
3 June-July 1942
4 Aug.-Sept. 1942
5 Oct.-Nov. 1942
Box Folder
5 1 Dec. 1942-Feb. 1943
2 March-Apr. 1943
3 May-June 1943
4 July-Aug. 1943
5 Sept.-Oct. 1943
Box Folder
6 1 Nov.-Dec. 1943
2 Jan.-Feb. 1944
3 March-Apr. 1944
4 May-June 1944
5 July-Aug. 1944
6 Sept.-Oct. 1944
Box Folder
7 1 Nov.-Dec. 1944
2 Jan.-Feb. 1945
3 March-May 1945
4 June-Dec. 1945
5 Jan.-June 1946
Box Folder
8 1 July-Dec. 1946
2 1947
3 Jan.-June 1948
4 July-Dec. 1948
5 1949
6 1950-1951
Box Folder
9 1 1952-1954
2 1955-1956
3 1957-1962
4 Undated
Mooney, Sylvester, 1945-1975
5 1945-1946
6 1947-1948
7 1949-1953
Box Folder
10 1 1954-1975
2 N-Z, unidentified


Series II. Works, 1926-1976, n.d.

10 Abandonment to Divine Providence (1975), translation
3 Handwritten draft with Introduction, n.d.
4 Typed printer's copy with title page dummy, 1975
5 The Dark Emperor (1947; written under pseudonym "John Clayton"), handwritten and typed manuscripts, printed copy, 1945, 1947
6 1937, 1962
7 1971-1972
Box Folder
11 1 1974
2 1975, with annotations by Marjorie Broadbridge Beevers, 1975-1976
3 From Piræus, photocopy of printed copy, 1930
4 Girls, n.d.
5 The Making of a Saint (or) the Making of St. Therese, 1964
6 A Man for Now: The Life of Damien the Leper (1974), n.d.
7 Notebooks, n.d.
Box Folder
12 1 Notebooks (continued)
2 Poems, handwritten and typescript, 1926-1934
3 Stories (untitled), handwritten, n.d.
4 Handwritten draft, 1959
5-6 Handwritten draft, n.d.
Box Folder
13 1-3 Original typescript (incomplete) and carbon copy, n.d.
4 The Way in Which God Speaks to Us & How We Should Listen to Him, handwritten, 1973
5 Unidentified, n.d.


Series III. Personal, 1927-1975, n.d.

Box Folder
13 6 Business documents, 1968, n.d.
7 Commercial catalogs, n.d.
8 Financial documents, 1964-1967
9 Passport, 1966
10 Photograph album, n.d.
11 School Records, 1927-1933
12 Miscellaneous and unidentified, 1966, 1975


Series IV. Marjorie Pollard Beevers, 1928-1962

14 Correspondence, 1933-1962
1 A-Z, unidentified, 1933-1951
Mooney, Sylvester, 1945-1962
2 1945
3 1946-1949
4 1950-1959
5 1960-1962
Works, 1931-1952, n.d.
6 Diaries, 1931-1932, 1941
7 The Prison, short story, n.d.
8 Proposals for television programs, 1952, n.d.
9 Passports, 1928, 1946, 1956


Series V. Marjorie Broadbridge Beevers, 1952-1984, n.d.

15 Correspondence, 1962-1984
1 A-Z, unidentified, 1962-1984
2 Letters of condolence, 1975-1976
Works, 1964-1976, n.d.
3 1964-1965
4 1973
5 1975-1976
6 Talk to the Rotary Club, n.d.
Personal, 1952, 1962, n.d.
7 Financial papers, 1962, n.d.
8 Legal papers, 1952


Series VI. Susan Beevers, 1946-1957, n.d.

Box Folder
15 9 Correspondence, 1946-1957
10 Photographs, n.d.