Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Partridge mss., ca. 1914–1966, consist of the correspondence, notebooks, and drafts of the works of lexicographer, Eric Partridge, 1894–1979, perhaps best known for his dictionaries of slang and unconventional English.

Partridge was born February 6, 1894, in Poverty Bay, New Zealand, son of John Thomas (a farmer) and Ethel Annabella (Norris) Partridge. In 1907, the family moved to Brisbane, Australia where Partridge passed his school years graduating from the University of Queensland in 1921, after studying Classics, French and English. He received his B.Litt. (with first class honors) from Oxford University in 1923. Serving in the Australian infantry during World War I, he lived through the horror of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. In 1925, Partridge married Agnes Dora Vye–Parmenter with whom he had one daughter, Rosemary Ethel Honeywood Mann. After teaching for two years as a university lecturer in Manchester and London, Partridge gave up a promising academic career to found the small London publishing house, Scholartis. The press was moderately successful until the Great Depression, when he was forced to take on work as a free–lance writer. He often commented that the Depression allowed him to discover his real love and talent for writing books.

Partridge wrote over forty books on the English language, including well–known works on etymology, slang, jargon, and clichés. He died on June 1, 1979 in Devon, England.

Acquired: 1965–1979

Collection size: 7,486 items

NOTE: Access to this collection requires advance notice. Please contact the Curator of Manuscripts for additional information.

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.