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Music manuscripts of Robert Bruce Montgomery


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Music manuscripts of Robert Bruce Montgomery. Autographs, except where noted.


  • Creation: 1921-1978, n.d.


6.05 Linear metres (55 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. Mus. a. 4, fols. 1-2].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Mus. a. 4, b. 47-89, c. 438-447, c. 453

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 13646


Music manuscripts of Robert Bruce Montgomery, 1921-1978.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978) was born at Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire, on 2 October 1921, the third child in the family of three daughters and one son of Robert Ernest Montgomery (1878-1962) and his wife, Marion Blackwood Jarvie (d 1971). Educated at Merchant Taylors' School, where the club-foot for which he was operated on several times in childhood prevented his participation in sport, he was a gifted student and already a talented composer by the time he went to St John's College, Oxford in 1940. For three years he read Modern Languages under W.G. Moore (his tutorial partner was the poet Alan Ross) and was College organist. Expected by his contemporaries to get a First, he spent the Easter vacation before his Final Examinations writing a detective novel and gained only 'an ignominious Second', as he recalled in later life. However, The Case of the Gilded Fly, written under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin and featuring as its hero Oxford Professor of English, Gervase Fen, was published in 1944 and was an immediate success. It was the first of eight Gervase Fen novels published in Britain and America between 1944 and 1951, the most productive period of Montgomery's life when he was writing and composing fluently and with pleasure.

As a composer, Montgomery contributed to most genres. His Oxford Requiem was commissioned by the Oxford Bach Choir in 1951 and is probably his best-known concert work. His operas include John Barleycorn, a ballad opera for children. However, Montgomery is chiefly known for his film scores, of which he wrote over thiry between 1949 and 1966. His scores for several of the enormously popular 'Carry on' and 'Doctor' film series probably reached the widest audiences. He died from alcohol-related problems at the age of 56.


The catalogue of Montgomery's music manuscripts is arranged as follows:

I. Film music

II. Operas

III. Choral works with orchestra

IV. Orchestral and band works

V. Shorter choral works

VI. Songs and revue numbers

VII. Chamber music

VIII. Piano music (one and two pianos)

IX. Organ music

X. Miscellaneous

Other Finding Aids

Reference numbers (W.71 etc.) refer to the work-list in David Whittle's thesis Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978): a biography with a catalogue of musical works (PhD, University of Nottingham, 1998).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given by Mrs Ann Montgomery, 1986.

Related Materials

For Montgomery's non-musical papers in the Library, including correspondence and film scripts, see elsewhere in the online catalogue of Bodleian Archives and Manuscripts. A number of gramophone records of Montgomery's music have not yet been catalogued.


  • David Whittle, Bruce Montgomery/Edmund Crispin: a life in music and books (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).


Large folio and folio, except for MS. Mus. b. 88 (oblong folio)

Music manuscripts of Robert Bruce Montgomery
EAD version 2019
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom