Papers of Robert Henriques

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of the personal and literary papers of Robert Henriques including family papers and photographs; notes, manuscripts and typescripts of articles, talks, plays and film scripts; notes and revised versions of his biographies of Marcus Samuel and Robert Waley Cohen; manuscripts and typescripts of novels including No Arms, No Armour, The Journey Home, Through the Valley, A Stranger Here, Captain Smith and Company and Red over Green and notes for Henriques' unpublished autobiography Meego; a biography of Myself. A large amount of correspondence, much of which relates to the Cheltenham Literary Festival, contains letters from several literary and other notable figures including Michael Ayrton (7 letters), Richard Church (7 letters), Gilbert Harding (8 letters and 4 postcards), Marghanita Laski (27 letters), Eric Linklater (27 letters and 3 postcards), Compton Mackenzie (6 letters), John Moore (over 260 letters), Charles Morgan (11 letters and 1 postcard), Iris Murdoch (3 letters and 1 postcard), Raymond Postgate (46 letters and 2 postcards), J.B. Priestley (6 letters and 3 postcards), C.P. Snow (5 letters), Stephen Spender (4 letters), A.G. Street (18 letters and 1 postcard) and Evelyn Waugh (14 letters and 5 postcards).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Quixano Henriques was born in London in 1905 into one of the oldest Jewish families in England. Educated at Rugby and New College Oxford, he joined the Royal Artillery in 1926 and served in Egypt and the Sudan, retiring in 1933. Beginning a second career as a writer Henriques wrote about his experience of big-game hunting in Africa and in 1939 published a novel based on his army experience No Arms No Armour which was very highly praised. On the outbreak of the Second World War Henriques, who was an officer in the Territorial Army, was immediately called up and served with distinction in the Royal Artillery, the newly formed Commandos and at Combined Operations Headquarters, ending the war as a Colonel.

After the war Henriques, with his wife, Vivien Levy, who he had married in 1928, and four children, successfully took to farming and breeding cattle in Gloucestershire and lived the life of a country gentleman, hunting, fishing and shooting. He continued to write and in 1950 his novel Through the Valley was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He also became a regular on the radio programme Any Questions and took part in many television debates and discussions. Among many local involvements Henriques helped to run the Cheltenham Literary Festival with John Moore for several years, although often feeling frustrated in his efforts by the worthies of the town.

Outwardly Henriques was a gifted man with a vivid personality who achieved distinction in several different fields, as soldier, farmer, writer and broadcaster, but he was always restless and never satisfied with himself, as is evident in his unfinished autobiography. He achieved contentment through his domestic life and to some degree through his writing but it was not until later in life that he discovered another way of integrating the disparate aspects of his personality. Henriques was always aware of his Jewishness but it was not until he visited Israel in 1956 that he became a tireless advocate of the country and its people, although he always firmly denied being a Zionist. He visited Israel many times and bought a small property there and his writing reflected his new enthusiasm. He wrote a history of the 1956 Sinai campaign One Hundred Hours to Suez , biographies of two prominent Jews, Marcus Samuel and Robert Waley Cohen, and at the time of his death was immersed in research for a comprehensive history of the Israeli Defence Forces. For the last ten years and more of his life Robert Henriques' health was poor. Much of his travel was in search of the relief given by a warmer climate, but he was often in pain and frequently in hospital. He died on 24 January 1967 aged 61.

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

Given on permanent loan by Henriques' daughter, Veronica Gosling, 1983

Note

Description prepared by Gil Skidmore with reference to From a biography of myself by Robert Henriques, edited by Veronica Gosling, 1969

Other Finding Aids

There is a list of the contents of the boxes in the reading room

Related Material

More correspondence between Robert Henriques and John Moore is held in Gloucester Record Office (John Moore papers D8451)