Christopher Sykes Papers
Scope and Contents
Sykes's correspondence provides evidence of his professional and, to a lesser degree, personal relationships. In addition to Sykes's literary agent (A.D. Peters) and publishers (Collins Publishers and Hollis and Carter), other correspondents include Isaiah Berlin, T.S. Eliot, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Philip Montefiore Magnus-Allcroft, Harold Nicolson, Cecil Roth, Rebecca Sieff, Robert Speaight, Richard Usborne, and Evelyn Waugh. Also included is correspondence with Sykes's siblings Angela Sykes Antrim, Freya Sykes Elwes, and Daniel Sykes.
Drafts, background materials, research notes, publicity materials, correspondence, and reviews document Sykes's writing career and creative process. The Papers also contain Sykes's writings while working at the BBC as well as a range of his creative output from fiction (including his children's book Albert and Emerald) to nonfiction.
Personal papers, such as financial records, notebooks, clippings, and photographs, provide evidence of the Sykes family's personal life (including Camilla Russell Sykes's family).
Conditions Governing Access
Restricted Fragile is in cold storage and may be consulted only with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
July 2021 Acquisition: Gift of Dorothy M. Hurt, 2021.
17.43 Linear Feet ((37 boxes) + 3 broadsides)
Language of Materials
Christopher Sykes (1907-1986)
Upon leaving his studies Sykes worked for the Foreign Office as an honorary attaché at the British embassy in Berlin, Germany (1928-1929) and as a private secretary to Sir Robert Clive in Tehran, Persia (1930-1931). After a year of studies at the School of Oriental Studies in London (1933) and two years of travels through Persia and Afghanistan, Sykes returned to Tehran as secretary for the British Embassy from 1941 to 1943 and to cover the Persian-Azerbaijan Campaign for The Daily Mail in 1946.
Sykes wrote about his travels in Stranger Wonders: Tales of Travel (1937) and Innocence and Design (1935) (which he co-authored with his travel companion Robert Byron under the pseudonym Richard Waughburton). At this time, Sykes also focused on his own writing completing Wassmuss: The German Lawrence (1936) and corresponding for The Spectator and The Observer (1936-1939).
During World War II, Sykes served in the military, first with the Green Howards (1939-1941), for which he was stationed in Cairo at the Middle East Headquarters, and then for the Special Operations Executive (1943) and the Special Air Service (1943-1945). Sykes continued to write during the War and in 1944 published High Minded Murder.
Following World War II, Sykes wrote a collection of essays, Four Studies in Loyalty (1946), and served as the literary editor for the New English Review before joining the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1948. Sykes worked for the Third Programme (1948) and then for the features department (1949-1968).
While at the BBC Sykes continued to write and his publications range from fiction, such as Answer to Question 33 (1948), Character and Situation (1949), A Song of a Shirt (1953), and Dates and Parties (1955), to non-fiction, such as Two Studies in Virtue (1953), Crossroads to Israel (1965) and Troubled Loyalty (1968). Sykes also wrote a number of biographies which include Orde Wingate (1959), Nancy: The Life of Lady Astor (1972), and Evelyn Waugh: A Biography (1975).
In 1936 Sykes married Camilla Russell (daughter of Thomas Wentworth Russell and Evelyn Dorothea Temple) with whom he had one son, Mark Sykes, in 1937. Sykes died on December 8, 1986.
- A.D. Peters (Firm)
- Antrim, Angela, 1911-
- Astor, David, Hon., 1912-2001
- Astor, John Jacob, 1886-1971
- Authors, British -- 20th Century -- Archives
- Berlin, Isaiah, 1909-1997
- Biographers -- England
- Biographers -- Great Britain
- British Broadcasting Corporation
- British Broadcasting Corporation. Third Programme
- British literature -- 20th Century
- Broadcasting -- Great Britain
- Byron, Robert, 1905-1941
- Collins (Firm : London, England)
- Compton-Burnett, I. (Ivy), 1884-1969
- Cunningham, Alan, Sir
- Diplomatic and consular service, British
- Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965
- Fergusson, Bernard, 1911-1980
- Fulford, Roger, 1902-1983
- Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- 20th Century
- Great Britain. Army. Green Howards
- Great Britain. Army. Special Air Service
- Haig, Douglas Haig, Earl, 1861-1928
- Harper & Row, Publishers
- Hodder and Stoughton
- Jacob, Ian, Sir, 1899-
- Kirby, S. Woodburn (Stanley Woodburn), 1895-
- Kurtz, Harold
- Liddell Hart, Basil Henry, Sir, 1895-1970
- Magnus, Philip, Sir (Philip Montefiore), 1906-
- Nicolson, Harold, 1886-1968
- Oxford University Press
- Radio and the arts -- Great Britain
- Radio authorship
- Radio scripts
- Roth, Cecil, 1899-1970
- Russell, Thomas Wentworth, 1879-1954
- Sandford, Daniel Arthur, 1882-1972
- Sieff, Rebecca, 1890-1966
- Speaight, Robert, 1904-1976
- Sweet-Escott, Bickham
- Sykes, Camilla
- Sykes, Christopher, 1907-1986
- Travel writers -- Great Britain
- Travel writing
- Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966
- Guide to the Christopher Sykes Papers
- by H. Dean
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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