Fonds GB 0210 BERTRUCK - Berta Ruck Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Berta Ruck Archive


  • [c. 1890]-[1974x1978] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

62 volumes.

Context area

Name of creator

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 with 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, aviators 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.

Archival history

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

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

NLW MS 20677C; Berta Ruck; Aberdovey; Donation; May 1971

NLW MSS 23306-23309; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase (with NLW MS 22003E, ff. 154-62); February 1995; B1995/6.

NLW MSS 23376-23378; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase; April 1995; B1995/20.

NLW MS 23437B; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase; September 1995; B1995/41.

NLW MS 23523B; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase; April 1996; B1996/19.

NLW MSS 23569-23573; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase; December 1996; B1996/50.

NLW MSS 23715-23727; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase (with NLW MS 23699E, ff. 31-32); May 1998B1998/18.

NLW MSS 23733-23744, 23746E, Berta Ruck papers 10; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase; August 1998; B1998/28.

NLW MSS 23745D, 23780-23783, Berta Ruck papers 1-9, 11-14; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase (with 0199900916-17); January 1999; B1999/3.

NLW MS 23790C; Fortune Green Bookshop; London; Purchase (with NLW MS 23699E, f. 100); September 1999; B1999/21.

NLW MS 24031D; C. Bebbington, A Piece of History; Chichester; Purchase; August 2012; 006299020.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers, [c. 1890]-[1974x1978], of Berta Ruck, including notebooks containing journal entries, ideas for fiction, newspaper cuttings and ephemera, 1906-1973; literary and autobiographical manuscripts, typescripts and photocopies, [1950x1955]-[1974x1978]; letters, [c. 1890]-[1972]; poetry, [1920s]-[1930s]; and sketches, [1900x1920].

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

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

Conditions of access and use area

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).

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Swedish
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English unless otherwise specified.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

For other papers of Berta Ruck see NLW MSS 22003E, ff. 154-62, 23699E, ff. 31-32, 100, and 24044D, f. 38, 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.

Related descriptions

Publication note

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

Notes area


Title based on contents.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

March 2009, April 2010 and January 2013.


  • English



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 website, viewed 19 April 2010; Berta Ruck, A Story-Teller Tells the Truth (London, 1935);

Accession area

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