Papers of R.L. Mgroz

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of personal papers, photographs and letters; autobiographical notes; poems; plays; short stories; articles; radio scripts; notes for books on various subjects; transcripts of interviews and a considerable amount of correspondence with literary figures and others including Arthur St John Adcock (73 letters), Gordon Bottomley (29 letters), Marten Cumberland (137 letters and cards), Cecil H. Lay (more than 200 letters), Walter de la Mare (120 letters and cards), Chris Massie (142 letters), Thomas Moult (70 letters and cards), Seumas O'Sullivan (31 letters), Herbert E. Palmer (71 letters and cards), Ronald Ross (36 letters) and Osbert Sitwell (33 letters and a reference)

Administrative / Biographical History

Rodolphe Louis Mgroz was born in Pimlico on 2 August 1891, the eldest son of Rodolphe Frederick Mgroz, a valet, and his wife Alice. He later characterised his ancestry as a mix of Pyrenean brigands and East Anglian farmers. Before Mgroz was 10 his father had died but his education was continued in various institutions including the Gordon Boys Home. In 1908, when he was 17, he joined Farrow's bank in London as a clerk, learned shorthand and accounts and in 1911 rose to the position of cashier, but he was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his lot.

In common with many of his generation Mgroz's life was transformed by the First World War. He joined the army immediately and first saw active service at Gallipoli in 1915 when he took part in the landings at Suvla Bay. In 1916 he was stationed in Egypt as a shorthand writer in the Chief Censor's office and began to think that journalism might offer an escape from the limitations of office work. After spending more than two years in Egypt and Palestine Mgroz returned to England at the end of the war and became an Education Instructor and an officer before being discharged at the end of 1919.

Mgroz's first book Personal Poems had been published before he left the army and he now set out to learn his new trade. Under a scheme for ex-serviceman which paid his fees and a grant he enrolled on the Journalism Diploma course at London University. For the next two years he studied, made contacts and worked as a freelance for several different papers. The pattern of his professional life was established. He took freelance journalism jobs when these were available, often writing articles on different subjects, such as education and country matters, under pseudonyms. Meanwhile he was always working on books at intervals, mostly literary criticism, poetry anthologies and biography.

Mgroz's output was prodigious and reflected his constant need to earn a living. At the end of the war Mgroz married and soon had three children but neither he nor his wife was happy. Eventually, in about 1926, they separated and Mgroz went to live in lodgings, struggling to support himself and his family and desperate, after his own disrupted childhood, to ensure that his daughters would not lose contact with their father. It was not until 1931 that the couple divorced and Mgroz was free to marry again.

During the Second World War Mgroz worked for the BBC European News Service and then edited publications for the Overseas Food Corporation from 1949 until 1951. After his retirement he listed his recreations as billiards and explaining the peace. He died on 30 September 1968 at the age of 77.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/using/sc-using.asp for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Mrs A Megroz-Lord, 1980

Note

This description was written by Gil Skidmore

Other Finding Aids

The collection is listed to item level