Robert Byron Papers
Scope and Contents
Papers such as research materials, drafts, publicity, and reviews provide evidence of Byron's writing career and creative process. Byron's travels, on which he wrote extensively, are documented in the papers, and include observations on Greece, Afghanistan, Persia, India, Russia, Tibet, and China. Byron's journals and correspondence (particularly with his mother) record his initial observations while traveling and were a source for his publications. As an amateur photographer and artist, Byron also created photographs and drawings while abroad, many of which he later used as illustrations in his publications.
In addition to documenting his travels, Byron's correspondence also provides evidence of his literary circle as well as relationships with editors and publishers. Among his correspondents are Evelyn Waugh, Harold Acton, John Betjeman, Arthur Upham Pope, and Edith Sitwell, and to a lesser extent, Somerset Maugham, George Bernard Shaw, Rebecca West, and Leonard Woolf. The papers also record Byron's social circle, many of whom he became acquainted with while at Eton College and Oxford University, including Michael and Desmond Parsons, Bryan Guinness, and Christopher Sykes.
Byron's interest in politics (and particularly with Nazism and World War II) are documented in his reports on propaganda as well as papers relating to his involvement with the Federal Union League and as a journalist with the European News Department of the BBC.
In addition to his writings, Byron's other papers also provide evidence of his dedication to art and architecture, such as his involvement with the Georgian Group (which includes meeting minutes and drafts of related articles and lectures), as well as his documentation of architecture during his travels abroad.
- 1757 - 2010
- Majority of material found within 1909 - 1941
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Restricted Fragile Material is in cold storage and may be consulted only with permission of the appropriate curator. Photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
July 2019 Acquisition, purchased from Paul Rassam and Bernard Quaritch on the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection Fund, 2019.
60.21 Linear Feet ((92 boxes) + 11 broadside folders)
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
Robert Byron (1905-1941)
In 1929 Byron traveled to India for the Daily Express to write a series of articles on the Indian air mail. Once in India, Byron continued his travels throughout the region (including a stint in Tibet) which he wrote about in articles as well as in his book An Essay on India (1931). Byron later recounted his travels in Tibet following a 1932 trip to Russia in his book First Russia, Then Tibet (1933).
In 1933 and 1934 Byron traveled to the Middle East, spending time largely in Persia and Afghanistan, but also passing through Cyprus, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. These travels resulted in Byron's best known book, The Road to Oxiana (1937). Byron collaborated with Christopher Sykes to publish the novel Innocence and Design (1935) under the pseudonym "Richard Waughburton" in which they drew on their experiences in Persia (now Iran). Byron also wrote an essay, "Timurid Architecture", for Arthur Upham Pope's Survey of Persian Art (1938) based on his observations of Persian architecture. On his return to England Byron worked on two travel books on the British Isles: Shell Guide to Wiltshire (1935) and Imperial Pilgrimage (1937). Byron continued traveling after his trip to the Middle East, including trips to America, Russia, Siberia, China, and Japan, reporting on his experiences in newspapers and journals.
Byron wrote on art and architecture in both his travel narratives and in other projects (such as The Appreciation of Architecture published in 1927). He was also a founding member of the Georgian Group, which was established in 1937 as an offshoot of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
In the late thirties and early forties Byron's chief preoccupation was with Nazism and World War II. While Byron's pursuit of a position with the military was unsuccessful, he found outlets for political action in the Federal Union League and with the Ministry of Information. In 1938 Byron secured contract work with the Ministry of Information as a propagandist, for which he traveled to Germany and attended the Parteitag (the Nazi Party Congress). On his return to Britain the project ended and Byron ultimately joined the European News Department of the BBC. In 1940 Byron again became involved with government wartime endeavors and, under the guise of a Times correspondent, he was sent to Iran in order to observe Russian activity regarding Middle East oil. Byron died on his way to the Middle East on February 24, 1941 when the ship he was on was torpedoed.
Material housed in Box 62 was restricted from the time of acquisition to September 24, 2014. This material was not physically interfiled, but listed in the appropriate place within this guide.
Later additions were processed in 2019 and were not interfiled within the existing arrangement.
- A.D. Peters (Firm)
- Acton, Harold, 1904-1994
- Afghanistan -- Description and travel
- Antrim, Randal John Somerled McDonnell, Earl of, 1911-1977
- Authors, British -- 20th Century -- Archives
- Betjeman, John, 1906-1984
- British Broadcasting Corporation
- British literature -- 20th Century
- Byron, Robert, 1905-1941
- Chetwode, Penelope
- Drawings (visual works)
- Europe -- Description and travel
- George Routledge and Sons
- Georgian Group (London, England)
- Guinness, Bryan, 1905-1992
- Harrod, Roy, 1900-1978
- Huxley, Michael
- Iran -- Description and travel
- Iraq -- Description and travel
- Kinross, Patrick Balfour, Baron, 1904-1976
- Kyrou, Achil. A. (Achilleus A.)
- Lees-Milne, James, 1908-1997
- Locker Lampson, Oliver, 1880-1954
- Lutyens, Edwin Landseer, Sir, 1869-1944
- Macmillan & Co
- Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965
- Messel, Oliver, 1904-1978
- Middle East -- Description and travel
- Mosley, Cynthia, Lady, 1898-1933
- Parsons, Desmond, 1910-1937
- Russia -- Description and travel
- Sackville-West, Edward, 1901-1965
- Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964
- Stokes, Adrian, 1902-1972
- Stuart Wortley, Violet, 1866-1953
- Sykes, Christopher, 1907-1986
- Tibet Autonomous Region (China) -- Description and travel
- Travel writers -- Great Britain
- Travel writing
- Travel writing -- Technique
- Travelers' writings, British -- 20th Century
- Travelers' writings, English -- 20th Century
- Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966
- Waughburton, Richard
- West, Rebecca, 1892-1983
- Wicklow, William Cecil Forward Howard Clonmore, Earl of, 1902-1978
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Journalists
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Propaganda
- Wyndham, Violet
- Young, G. M. (George Malcolm), 1882-1959
- Guide to the Robert Byron Papers
- by H. Dean and Jessica Tai
- December 2007
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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