Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2206

F. Marion Crawford papers


Letters of the American novelist, F. Marion Crawford, to his wife, with other related correspondence and papers.


  • Creation: 1864-1967
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1883-1908

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


1.25 linear feet (4 boxes)

Crawford's autograph manuscript letters to his wife form the bulk of this collection, with other related letters, one photograph, and printed material, some originally enclosed in the letters to his wife.

Biographical / Historical

Francis Marion Crawford was born in 1854 in Bagni di Lucca (Italy), to American parents: the sculptor Thomas Crawford (1813?-1857), and Louisa Cutler Ward Crawford (later Terry), Julia Ward Howe's sister.

After education in Rome, Concord (N.H.), England, Germany, and India, Crawford went to Boston in 1881 to try writing and possibly politics. He returned to Europe after success with his first novel, continuing to write and in 1884 marrying Elizabeth Christophers Berdan, daughter of General Hiram Berdan, rifle inventor, engineer, and Civil War sharpshooter. The couple first lived with Crawford's mother in Rome, but, after the birth of the first of their four children, Crawford bought a cliff-side property in Sant'Agnello di Sorrento, Italy, which became the Villa Crawford. The growing family eventually adopted the surname Marion-Crawford.

Through the 1880s and 1890s, Crawford wrote more than forty romance and adventure novels and popular histories, most set in Italy, most published by Macmillan & Co., and most enjoying great success in the United States and worldwide. He traveled to the United States often to lecture and to write; he also visited to direct the legal affairs of the Berdan Firearms Manufacturing Company, created by his father-in-law, in its patent claims against the U.S. government. During the summer months, Crawford also sailed off the Italian coast on his yacht, the Alda; his wife, too, traveled seasonally, and the resulting separations were bridged with almost daily correspondence.


The papers are organized into six series:

  1. I. Letters from F. Marion (Francis Marion) Crawford to Elizabeth Christophers Berdan Crawford.
  2. II. Letters from F. Marion (Francis Marion) Crawford to others.
  3. III. Letters from others to F. Marion (Francis Marion) Crawford.
  4. IV. Letters from others to Elizabeth Christophers Berdan Crawford.
  5. V. Other correspondence.
  6. VI. Other materials.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

91M-62. Manuscripts purchased with funds from the Amy Lowell fund from Professor Robert L. Gale, 131 Techview Terrace, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; received 1992 June 26

2000M-5 Manuscripts presented by Professor Robert L. Gale, 131 Techview Terrace, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; received 2000 July 27.

Processing Information

Processed by: Melanie M. Wisner

Crawford, F. Marion (Francis Marion), 1854-1909. F. Marion Crawford papers, 1864-1967: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440