Fonds MS-2-202 - Thomas Head Raddall fonds

Photograph of Thomas Head signing autographs for students Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall with officers of the Cadet Corps and Headmaster Waddington at K... Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall and family Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall standing on Citadel Hill with the Town Clock and Halifax Harbou... Photographic portrait of Thomas Head Raddall holding a cigarette "Figure Head" "Main Four" "909" (second version) "In Mighty Waters" "Nine Mile House" Photograph of the Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. "Barrington" Maclean's Magazine June 7, 1958 "1909" (first version) Thomas Head Raddall photograph album 5 Thomas Head Raddall photograph album 1 Diary, May 11, 1940-December 23, 1941 Diary, May 24, 1944-September 18, 1944 Diary, September 19, 1944-February 15, 1945 Diary, February 15, 1945-June 5, 1945 Diary, June 6, 1945-November 14, 1945 Diary, November 15, 1945-May 8, 1946 Diary, May 8, 1946-September 7, 1946 Diary, January 14, 1947-August 12, 1947 Diary, August 3, 1947-May 28, 1948 Diary, May 28, 1948-December 18, 1948 Diary, December 18, 1948-June 4, 1949 Diary, June 4, 1949-December 21, 1949 Diary, December 22, 1949-August 4, 1951 Diary, June 26, 1951-July 24, 1951 : Cabin Notes Diary, August 5, 1951-March 8, 1953 Diary, March 9, 1953-May 11, 1954 Diary, May 11, 1954-August 22, 1955 Diary, August 23, 1955-October 30, 1956 Diary, October 30, 1956-December 28, 1957 Diary, December 28, 1957-May 19, 1959 Diary, May 20, 1959-September 2, 1960 Diary, September 2, 1960-November 2, 1961 Diary, November 2, 1961-May 16, 1962 Diary, May 17, 1962-April 9, 1963 Diary, April 9, 1963-May 23, 1964 Diary, September 8, 1965-July 19, 1967 Diary, July 19, 1967-September 30, 1968 Diary, October 1, 1968-February 26, 1970 Diary, February 27, 1970-July 25, 1971 Diary, July 25, 1971-February 27, 1973 Diary, August 10, 1975-February 28, 1978 Diary, February 28, 1978-June 6, 1980 Diary, September 19, 1985-February 20, 1991 Diary, March 10, 1994-April 1, 1994 : Nursing notes Diary, February 27, 1973-August 9, 1975
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Thomas Head Raddall fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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  • Bulk, 1913-1994 (Creation)
  • 1870-1995 (Creation)

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Physical description

7.4 m of textual records and other material. - 1 map. - 6 scrapbooks. - over 50 sketches and drawings. - ca. 1600 photographs. - 1 reel of microfilm. - 8 artifacts. - 43 published volumes. - 1 audio cassette. - 1 video cassette

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Born at Hythe, Kent, on November 13, 1903, Thomas Head Raddall was the son of British Army Officer Thomas Head Raddall and Ellen (née Gifford) Raddall. At the time, the family lived in the married quarters of the School of Musketry where THR's father taught. In 1909 THR's parents enrolled him in St. Leonard's Primary School for boys in Hythe. He continued there until May 1913, when his family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in order for his father to assume a training position in the Canadian Militia. Sixteen months after the family's move, THR's father joined the war effort. Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Raddall, D. S. O., of the Winnipeg Rifles, was killed in action in August 1918 at Amiens.

In Halifax, THR attended Chebucto School. His final year there (Grade 9) was interrupted in December 1917, when the school was turned into a temporary morgue following the devastating Halifax Explosion. The Raddall family survived the explosion, an event which Raddall writes about in his memoirs, In My Time, and also in his history Halifax, Warden of the North.

At the age of fifteen, Raddall trained at the Canadian School of Telegraphy in Halifax and shortly thereafter (having given his age as eighteen) obtained work as a marine telegraph operator for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. In 1919 he was assigned to Partridge Island, New Brunswick; between then and 1922 he worked at various locations in Nova Scotia (Pictou, Sable Island, and Camperdown) as well as on ships—including the War Karma, the Prince George, the Watuka, and the Mackay-Bennett—in the North Atlantic. This period also saw the publication of his first short story, " The Singing Frenchman" ( Sunday Leader, December 1921).

From September 1922 to the spring of 1923, THR undertook accountancy training at the Maritime Business College in Halifax and by April had been hired as a bookkeeper by Macleod Pulp and Paper Company in Milton, Queen's County, Nova Scotia. It was there that he met Edith Margaret Freeman, a music teacher, in 1924; they became engaged in the spring of 1926 and were married on June 9, 1927, in Milton's Baptist Church. A slump in the pulp and paper industry, the subsequent reduction in his salary, as well as a new mortgage prompted THR to look for employment elsewhere. He worked briefly as a clerk in the construction industry before being hired (February 1929) by the Mersey Paper Company in Liverpool, where he resided until his death in 1994.

Still looking for extra income, THR sent Maclean's a short story, " The Three Wise Men," for which he received $60. From this point on, THR made a serious commitment to writing. His new boss at the Mersey Paper Mill encouraged his writing, and over the next few years, THR published Saga of the Rover (1931) and The Markland Sagas (1934). By 1938 THR was earning enough from his writing to support his growing family—his son Tom was born in 1934 and daughter Frances in 1936—that he quit his job at the Mersey Paper Company and took to writing full-time.

Over the next forty years THR published twenty-five books, dozens of articles on a wide variety of subjects, more than seventy short stories, and an autobiography; made radio and television appearances; became increasingly called upon as a guest speaker by various historical and literary societies; and was asked to become Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia (1968), an offer he declined. His first national recognition came in 1944 when The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek and Other Stories received the Governor General's Award for Fiction. He subsequently won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction in 1948 for Halifax, Warden of the North (1948) and again in 1957 for The Path of Destiny (1957). Some of his best-known works include His Majesty's Yankees (1942), Roger Sudden (1944), The Nymph and the Lamp (1950), The Wings of Night (1956) and The Governor's Lady (1960).

THR was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1953 and two years later received the Society's Lorne Pierce Medal "for distinguished service to Canadian literature." Also for his commitment and contribution to Canadian literature, THR was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (1971). He received honorary doctorates from Dalhousie (1949), Saint Mary's (1969), University of King's College (Halifax; 1972), and Saint Francis Xavier (1973).

After his death on April 1, 1994, his son donated money to the Queen's County Museum for the purposes of creating a Thomas Raddall Research Centre, and the furnishings of THR's study were moved to the museum to create a replica of his work area. Dalhousie University's Archives and Special Collections are the official repositories of his papers and his library, respectively.

Custodial history

There have been two major accessions of Thomas Head Raddall's papers. The first, in the Fall of 1973, included Raddall's working papers, correspondence, personal narratives, research notes, souvenirs, unpublished writings, photographs, and miscellaneous printed items. The second, which included his diaries, complete memoirs, and more photographs, arrived during the Summer of 1994, shortly after Raddall's death.

Scope and content

The fonds includes manuscripts of most of his published works—novels, short stories, articles, radio broadcasts and plays, and forewords for other works—from 1929 to 1976; research notes and general historical studies; sound recordings; correspondence covering the years 1914 to 1994 (including letters with other authors and his publishers, among others); diaries (closed at the author's request until 2019); photographs; memorabilia; material related to his father who fought and died in World War I; and several scrapbooks containing reviews of his books, clippings, and other research material.

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  • English

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research. The diaries, some memoir notes, and a small number of biographical materials scattered throughout the collection are open as of 2019.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

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Further accruals are not expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Thomas Head Raddall fonds, MS-2-202, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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  • English

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