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Archive of Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier, and his family


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The archive comprises Sydney Olivier's correspondence, financial, legal and official papers, and literary papers; correspondence and papers relating to Sydney Olivier: Letters and Selected Writings; Margaret Olivier's correspondence and financial and legal papers; family diaries, notebooks and news cuttings; photographs and printed ephemera.


  • Creation: 1870s-1951


3.3 Linear metres (22 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 5671/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 5671/1-22

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 5671


The archive of Sydney Olivier, first Baron Olivier, (1859-1943), civil servant, politician and author, and his family, particularly his wife Margaret (c.1862-1953).

Biographical / Historical

Sydney Haldane Olivier (1859-1943) was born in Colchester and educated at Tonbridge School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He had a career in the Colonial Service, particularly in the West Indies, and then as a politician, having joined the Fabian Society in 1885. He had great literary talent, writing poetry, plays, articles and books on subjects including philosophy, politics and history, as well as fiction.

Sydney Olivier married Margaret Cox (c.1862-1953) in 1885 and they had four daughters, Margery (1886-1974), Brynhild (1887-1935), Daphne (1889-1950) and Noel (1892-1969) who were noted for their progressive ideas and literary associations.

For further information see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited in the Bodleian Library in 1985 by Dr R.B.O. Richards, grandson of Sydney Olivier, and donated to the Library in 1996 by Mrs Virginia Allen, granddaughter of Sydney Olivier.

Related Materials

Bodleian Library: MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 285, Papers of Charles Wilton Wood Greenidge. Boxes 31-33 contain draft versions of Sydney Olivier's incomplete work 'The Dual Ethic of Empire', annotated throughout by Lady Olivier and one of his daughters, with related material and a little correspondence.These papers were sent to Greenidge by Lady Olivier after her husband's death with a view to possible publication.


  • Sydney Olivier: letters and selected writings edited with a memoir by Margaret Olivier; with some impressions by Bernard Shaw (Allen & Unwin, 1948)
  • Noble Savages. The Olivier Sisters. Four Lives in Seven Fragments. Sarah Watling (Jonathan Cape, 2019)
Catalogue of the Archive of Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier, and his family
Finding aid prepared by Robert Brown, Jen Patterson and Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom