Papers of Eric Partridge and Paul Beale relating to English slang

Scope and Content

This collection consists of papers and other materials relating to the work of Partridge and to the subsequent work in the subject area continued by Beale. The collection includes the following papers created by Partridge:

One box of manuscript notes, correspondence and drafts by Partridge for his Dictionary of Catch Phrases, 1970s; correspondence from Partridge to Camilla Raab (Editorial Dept., Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1977-1979.

The following papers of Beale are also included: correspondence from Robert Barlthrop to Beale relating to slang, 1981-1987; correspondence from Beale to the Secretary of the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press relating to slang additions for the next edition, 1984-1999; correspondence from Geoffrey van Dulken to Beale relating to slang, 1987-1999; correspondence from Simon Watts to Beale relating to slang, c 1987-1999; papers relating to Dictionary of Catchphrases, 1977, 1985; Concise Dictionary of Slang, 1989, Partridge's Dictionary of Slang, 1984 (8th ed.); four index boxes of alphabetical card indexes of slang terms, created by Beale, 1990s; one proof copy of Eric Partridge in his own words, ed. David Crystal, London, 1980; one file of obituaries, 1979.

One box of archival enclosures removed from books in the Eric Partridge Collection during cataloguing is also included.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eric Honeywood Partridge (1894-1979), author and lexicographer, was born in New Zealand, and was the son of John Thomas Partridge, grazier, and his wife Ethel Norris. In 1907 the family moved to Brisbane, Australia, where Partridge was educated at Toowoomba grammar school. He studied French and English at the University of Queensland, during which period he also served as a private during the First World War, where his interests in the 'underside' of language originated. He then became Queensland Travelling Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, and taught at Manchester and London Universities before founding his own publishing firm Scholartis in 1927. This firm closed in 1931, at which point Routledge and Kegan Paul commissioned Partridge to write a dictionary of slang. This was eventually published as A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English in 1937, and was followed by other works on language (slang and etymology in particular). He wrote novels under the pseudonym Corris Denison, and also wrote professionally on tennis, which he played to a high standard. He married Agnes Dora Vye-Parminter in 1925, with whom he had a daughter. During the Second World War he joined the army education corps and later the correspondence department of the RAF. He died in Moretonhampstead, Devon, in 1979.Paul Beale, lexicographer (1933-1999), was handed the editorship of Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English in 1978 by Partridge himself, although Partridge continued to make further research notes towards the dictionary until a few weeks before his own death in 1979. The two men had become friends in 1974, when Beale wrote to Partridge to contribute slang words and phrases. Beale drew extensively on his own experiences of 21 years of service in the Intelligence Corps in his own considerable work of revisions on the dictionary. He also worked as a librarian and contributed slang and colloquial phrases to the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.


Retained in the original arrangement as received from the Beale family. The collection is housed in envelopes according to type and date of material.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Biographical information taken from the Dictionary of National Biography (2004) and the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language (1998).

Other Finding Aids

Currently unlisted.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 15 April 2005, and encoded into EAD 2 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Deposited at the University of Exeter Library in 2001, along with a print collection, the Eric Partridge Collection, by a Beale family member.

Related Material

Other papers of Eric Partridge are held at the following repositories: University of San Francisco Library; British Library, Manuscript Collections; Cambridge University Library, Dept. of Manuscripts and University Archives; Warwickshire Record Office; Kings College London: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives; Birmingham University Information Service: Special Collections Department; Royal Institute of British Architects Library; Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service: William Salt Library.


It is not known whether publication has resulted from use of this collection.