Berta Ruck

Amy Roberta (‘Berta’) Ruck (1878-1978) was a popular and prolific romantic novelist. She produced numerous novels, short stories and serials, as well as several autobiographical works. She also had an earlier career as an artist and illustrator.

Berta Ruck had strong family connections with Merionethshire and lived in Aberdyfi from 1939 until her death in 1978, aged 100. Her husband was the novelist Oliver Onions (1873-1961).

Berta Ruck Archive

The National Library of Wales holds the largest group of Berta Ruck manuscripts and papers. They are catalogued on our online catalogue (click on 'archival tree' to see the full archive).

The archive consists of:

  • literary manuscripts, 1950s-1970s
  • notebooks and journals, 1906-1973
  • correspondence, c. 1890-1972
  • poetry, 1920s-1930s
  • sketches, 1900-1920

 

Literary manuscripts in the archive comprise mainly drafts of autobiographical works, including

  • A Smile for the Past (1959)
  • An Asset to Wales (1970)
  • Ancestral Voices (1972)
  • drafts of unpublished memoirs, 1970s

 

There are often drafts of, and notes for, her novels in her notebooks. However these mainly consist of journal entries concerning

  • her family life and her career
  • her travels in Europe (especially Austria and France) and America
  • comments on both World Wars
  • anecdotes concerning friends (such as E Nesbit)

The notebooks also contain notes, for instance on

  • a First World War aircraft factory, 1914
  • the day-to-day life of nurses, c. 1914
  • a film location shoot in the Tirol, 1933
  • the trial of Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine and D J Williams, 1937

 

The correspondence (mostly pasted into her notebooks) includes letters from friends and acquaintances such as

  • Alec Waugh
  • Alys Meirion
  • Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies and Marda Vanne
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • J B Priestley
  • Emlyn Williams
  • Amy Johnson
  • Osbert Sitwell
  • Vicki Baum
  • Edgar Wallace
  • Rebecca West
  • Geoffrey de Havilland
  • Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson
  • Bernard Darwin (her cousin)
  • Nancy Mitford
  • Barbara Cartland
  • Gwyn Jones
  • Glyn Jones

Her career as an illustrator is represented by various sketches and drawings, 1900-1920. There are also miscellaneous sketches to be found in her letters and journals.

Other Ruck materials in the National Library

The National Library also holds:

  • further manuscript drafts of some of her memoirs (NLW MSS 20806-7)
  • over 150 letters from Ruck to author Cledwyn Hughes (NLW, Cledwyn Hughes (Novelist) Manuscripts)
  • photographs of Ruck and her family (accession numbers 0199900916-17)
  • printed works

External Links

Other notebooks of Berta Ruck, 1928-1937, are at University of Delaware Library

For further biographical information see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Christmas 2014 and
New Year 2015

The Library will close on Tuesday 23 December, at 6pm, and re-open on Friday 2 January, at 9.30am.

A merry Christmas to everyone

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