Delderfield Papers

Scope and Content

Uncorrected proof of Give Us This Day, 1973. Give Us This Day was published post-humously in 1973, and is the third volume in Delderfield's Adam Swann saga, following Theirs was the Kingdom (1970) and God is an Englishman (1971).

Administrative / Biographical History

Ronald Frederick Delderfield (1912-1972), dramatist and novelist, was born in New Cross, London, on 12 February 1912. In 1923 his family moved to Exmouth, East Devon, where his father, William James Delderfield, became publisher of the Exmouth Chronicle. Delderfield attended Devon's West Buckland Public School, 1926-1928, before completing a business course at Fulford's Business College in Exeter. In 1929 he joined the staff of the Exmouth Chronicle, and later assumed its editorship from his father. His brother, Eric Delderfield, was also a successful author, with many publications on West Country themes to his name. R.F. Delderfield's first play, Spark in Judea, was produced in London in 1936 and this marked the beginning of a prolific and successful writing career.

Following war-service in the RAF, Delderfield took up permanent residence in Devon, where he immersed himself in local associations and historical events. He ran an antiques business near Budleigh Salterton, partly, he explained, 'so that I keep in touch with ordinary types of people – my public'.' He continued writing plays until 1956, when he decided to disengage from the theatre and pursue a career as a novelist. His first novel, The Adventures of Ben Gunn (1956), was a prequel to Treasure Island, and this was followed by the popular success of his historical sagas, largely on Napoleonic themes, and of his family sagas, mainly set in the war and inter-war years in his native South London and his adopted Devon. His national reputation was secured for later generations after his death by the televisation of two of his best known novels, A Horseman Riding By (1966) and To Serve Them All My Days (1972). R.F. Delderfield died at his house in Sidmouth, Devon on 24 June 1972.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Biographical information compiled by Ian Mortimer, Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Single item.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 10 January 2005, and encoded into EAD 3 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Purchased by Exeter University Library in 2002.

Related Material

Papers relating to Delderfield, Give us this day and To serve them all my days are contained within EUL MS 203.

Other papers of or relating to Delderfield are held at the following repositories: Sid Vale Heritage Centre, Sidmouth (Devon); BBC Written Archives Centre; Guildhall Library; the Bodleian Library (Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts); Bath Record Office; National Sound Archive; University of Bradford Library; and Boston University Library


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

Geographical Names