Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS859
TitlePapers of Jean Overton Fuller, poet, biographer and theosophist
Extent3 boxes (0.0342 cubic metres)
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)



DescriptionPredominantly correspondence between Jean Overton Fuller (1915-2009) and her friend, and fellow writer and publisher, Martin Booth (1944-2004). Also including a few letters to and from other correspondents and miscellaneous papers.

The two-way correspondence between Fuller and Booth extends over a 37 year period during which time Booth established a career as an author, journalist and founder of the Sceptre Press, and achieved success as a television and screen writer before his untimely death in 2004. By 1967, Fuller had already written what was to be her best known work, the biography of British Special Operations agent, Noor Inayat Khan (1952), but continued to write into her 90s including research works on Henri Dericourt, SOE agent, the painter Walter Richard Sikert and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, theosophist and occultist.

The collection charts the evolving friendship between the two writers, their participation in the literary circles of the late 20th century, the progress of their respective careers, reflections on their own and each other's work and the sources which inspire them. Although largely written in the form of personal correspondence with references to social engagements, domestic issues, personal interests and spiritual beliefs, the letters chiefly relate to their various literary endeavours and include, in the early 1970s, letters and reports from Booth in his role as Editor of Fuller d'Arch Smith, the publishing company established by Fuller and her partner, Timothy D'Arch Smith, in the 1960s. Booth's correspondence includes drafts of poems which he sent to Fuller for comment and appraisal. Fuller's letters are particularly notable for the support and encouragement she gives to Booth and as evidence of the attitude and approach she has to her research works and the sometimes controversial subjects she chooses to present.

The collection is potentially of interest for the history of small printing press as well as research into Jean Overton Fuller, Martin Booth and their writing.
NotesImages shown are from Fuller's response to Booth's critique of 'Bomb Saga', 1969 (MS859/1/1/1/29) and a photograph of Martin Booth taken in 1976 (MS859/2/1/5; photographer unknown).
ArrangementThe collection has been arranged as two series:
/1 Correspondence (sub-divided into 1/1 Martin Booth correspondence and 1/2 Miscellaneous personal correspondence)
/2 Papers
Access ConditionsThe majority of this collection is open to all registered researchers. A 30 year closure period has been applied to Martin Booth's personal correspondence. A few additional items which refer to sensitive information about named individuals who might still be alive have also been closed; this is indicated on the records.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections.
Access StatusPartially closed
Physical DescriptionSome letters stained, torn and heavily creased.
Creator NameFuller, Jean Violet Overton, 1915-2009, poet, biographer and theosophist
Booth, Martin, 1944-2004, author
Administrative HistoryJean Violet Overton Fuller was born 7 March 1915, the daughter of Captain John Henry Fuller, officer in the Indian army (d 1914), and Violet Overton Fuller, artist (d 1967). She graduated from the University of London with a degree in English, acted in repertory theatre and, during World War II, worked for the Postal Censorship office in London. Like her mother, Fuller was a keen painter. She trained at the Academie Julien in Paris and went on to exhibit as an artist and to illustrate her own books. Her first literary work to be published was a volume of poetry (Unwin Brothers, 1942) and she continued to have poems published throughout her life, predominantly through Fuller d'Arch Smith Ltd (F d'AS) and Martin Booth's Sceptre Press.

Fuller came to public attention with the publication of her first biographical work in which she told the story of her friend, and former neighbour, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent, Noor Inayat Khan, released under the title of her code name, 'Madeleine', in 1952 (later 'Born for sacrifice' 1957 and 'Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan: (Madelaine): George Cross, MBE, Croix de Guerre with Gold Star' 1971). This was followed by further works relating to the activities of the SOE in France during World War II for which she actively pursued her subject matter through personal interviews and correspondence including conversing for several years with the controversial Henri Déricourt (1909-1962), an SOE officer alleged to have passed information to the Germans.

Her literary works include biographies of poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Victor Benjamin Neuberg, and author, philosopher and statesman, Sir Francis Bacon. Like Neuberg, she wrote on the subjects of theosophy, spiritualism and the occult; she was a regular contributor to the periodical, 'Theosophical History' and wrote a biography of the occultist and co-founder of the Theosophical Society, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (c1988). She did not shy away from controversial subjects as evidenced in 1990 with the publication of a book in which she identifies the artist, Walter Richard Sickert, as 'Jack the Ripper'.

She died 8 April 2009, two years after the publication of the memoirs which were her final literary work.

Published works: 'My love to thee: poems written to H. H.' (London; Woking: Unwin Brothers, 1942); 'Madeleine: the story of Noor Inayat Khan' (London: Gollancz, 1952); 'The Starr affair' (London, 1954); 'Double webs: light on the secret agents' war in France' (London: Putnam, 1958); 'Double Agent?' (London, 1961); 'Horoscope for a double agent ("Gilbert")' (London: the author, 1961); 'Venus protected: and other poems' (London: Outpost publications, 1964); 'The magical dilemma of Victor Neuburg: a biography' (London: W. H. Allen, 1965); 'Carthage and the midnight sun' (London, 1966); 'Shelley: a biography' (London: Cape, 1968); 'Swinburne: a critical biography' (London: Chatto and Windus, 1968); 'Silver planet for Timothy D'Arch Smith: a poem' (Frensham: Martin Booth, c 1969); 'The sun's cart: a poem' (Martin Booth/Sceptre Press, 1969); 'Darun and Pitar' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, 1970); 'Tintagel' (Frensham: Sceptre Press, c 1970); 'Gilby' (Sceptre Press, 1972); 'African Violets, etc' (London: Manifold, 1972); 'Conversations with a captor' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, 1973); 'The German penetration of SOE: France, 1941-1944' (William Kimber, 1975); 'Shiva's dance' by Helene Bouvard and JOF (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, 1979); 'Prophecy from Helen' (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, 1979); 'The norn' (Knotting: Sceptre Press, [1979]); 'Francis Bacon, a biography' (London: East-West Publications, 1981); 'Meeting the snowy north again: poems' by Martin Booth and JOF (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, 1982); 'The prophet' by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837) and JOF (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1983); 'The great adventure of the much-travelled little oak-tree' (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, c 1984); 'Between the wishbone of the Hyades and the little plough of Pleides' (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, c 1985); 'The mystical tale of two hens' (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, c 1985); 'The new arrival' (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, c 1987); 'Bambina' (Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1988); 'Blavatsky and her teachers' (East-West in association with The Theosophical Publishing House, c 1988); 'Dericourt: the chequered spy' (Salisbury: Michael Russell, 1989); 'The Nightingale' (Fuller d'Arch Smith, [1989]; 'The passing of Bambina and, The coming of Chalcedony' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, 1990); 'Sickert and the Ripper crimes: an investigation into the relationship between the Whitechapel murders of 1888 and the English tonal painter Walter Richard Sickert' (Oxford: Mandrake, 1990); 'Leo and America' (London: Fuller D'Arch Smith, 1992); 'Cats and other immortals' (Rushden: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1992); 'Cats and burglars' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1993); 'The secret guardian' (Rushden: Fuller d'Arch Smith, [1994?]); 'The bombed years: poems' (Higham Ferrers: Greylag in association with Fuller d'Arch Smith, 1995); 'Tinta's toe' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, 1995); 'Plecotus auritus' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, 1995); 'Watching the moon walk: a poem, picture and setting in A flat' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1997); 'The psychism of Leo: or More often than by chance' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1998); 'A trail of hens' feet' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 1999); 'Lime hawk, Weevil and Frog' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 2000); 'Of space, size and time in infinity' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 2001); 'Two poems conceived in the garden' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 2002); 'Espionage as a fine art' by Henri Dericourt with translation by Fuller (Norwich: Russell, 2002); 'Krishnamurti and the wind: an integral biography' (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 2003); 'The wasp and the slug' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 2004); 'Four poems for my cat and chicken' (London: Fuller d'Arch Smith, c 2005); 'Driven to it: an autobiography' (Norwich: Michael Russell, c 2007)

Sources: Guardian obituaries: Jean Overton Fuller by Roderick Bailey, 18 May 2009, available online at (accessed 19 December 2012); website of the periodical, ' Theosophical History', available online at (accessed 19 December 2012); webpage of Rushden Research Group, available online at
/people/fuller-jean-overton.html (accessed 5 April 2013), and the records.
AcquisitionPurchased from James Fergusson Books and Manuscripts, Melrose Gardens, London, September 2012.
Archival NoteCatalogued by I. Frlan, February 2013, in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; and National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library: Special Collections holds the Papers of Martin Booth, 1958-1973 (GB 0150 MB), the Sceptre Press (GB 0150 SCEP) and a number of other 20th century literary collections including the David Tipton Collection (GB 0150 DT), the papers of David Lodge (GB 0150 DL), the papers of Philip Callow (GB 0150 MS840), the Randall Swingler Collection (GB 0150 MS835) and papers of Charles Hobday (GB 0150 M206), Arnold Rattenbury (GB 0150 MS556) and Fred Beake (GB 0150 MS226).
Associated MaterialsThe University of New Hampshire's Sceptre Press collection includes Jean Overton Fuller correspondence 1967-c 1984 (Milne Special Collections and Archives MC 62)