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The Cherry Record Collection of Josephine Reid’s Papers and Books Relating to Graham Greene

April 2015. Item level descriptions for the papers in this collection are complete. The papers are open to researchers.

April 2015. Completion of the catalogue was marked with a public exhibition

May 2015. Click here to listen to an interview with Anna Sander about the Greene-Reid collection by Dr Adam Smyth, Fellow of Balliol, for the Bodleian's Centre for the Study of the Book podcast series

June 2015. Click here to view video of Nicholas Dennys in conversation with Naomi Tiley about Graham Greene and the Greene-Reid collection, part of the Unlocking Archives series of talks, on Monday 8 June 2015, at 1pm in St Cross Church. (53 minutes, 507 MB .wmv file. May take some time to load.)

September 2015. Greene researchers may find this new resource helpful: Mike Hill, Jon Wise. The Works of Graham Greene, Volume 2: A Guide to the Graham Greene Archives. Bloomsbury Publishing, available 22 Oct 2015.


Collection details

  • Collection reference code: GGJR
  • Date(s) of creation/collection: 1940s-2012
  • Level of description: item level throughout
  • Extent and medium: Papers, 754 items in 14 series. 3 archive boxes and 3.25 shelf metres of printed books
  • Name of creator(s): Principally Josephine Reid and Graham Greene; others as listed.
  • Custodial history: Created/collected and kept by Josephine Reid until her death in 2012. Acquired by Balliol College 2014.
  • Immediate source of acquisition: Heirs and executors of Josephine Reid
  • Language/scripts of material: English; a few items in French
  • System of arrangement: 14 series of papers, preserving Josephine Reid’s arrangement throughout; see table of contents. Printed books in the collection are catalogued separately on the University's union library catalogue, SOLO - here is a link to a list of the printed books in the collection.


Conditions governing access: The papers and printed books will be made available to researchers once cataloguing at item level is complete, expected in time for Trinity Term (May) 2015. The collection will be open.

Conditions governing reproduction: Permission must be sought in writing for any quotation or use of images, including images of text, for pulication in any format, including online, from this collection. Balliol College does not own copyright in the contents of any part of this collection.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements: Most of the papers will be fasciculed for preservation reasons. Some of the newspaper cuttings are in poor physical condition and surrogates will be provided. No special technical requirements except for cassettes (series 12).

Finding aids: this web page and its updates contain the archival catalogue of the papers; printed books are catalogued on Oxford's SOLO union catalogue. A partial description of the papers and a full list of the printed books can also be found in the sale catalogue written by Nicholas Dennys (2012-13): download PDF. Made available by permission of the author. This catalogue is much indebted to Nicholas Dennys' work, also with his permission.

Biographical note

Josephine Reid was born in 1925 and spent her childhood on her parents’ fruit farm in Argentina before coming to school in England at St George’s, Ascot, Berkshire. She was at the War Office in her late teens, possibly her first job after leaving school, and returned to Argentina after the War until 1950. She worked at the British Embassy in Athens for a time and then returned to England to a post in the Foreign Office. She began working for Graham Greene in 1959, not only dealing with normal secretarial matters but also typed Greene’s manuscripts from his readings onto blue plastic “dictabelts”, recorded by a Dictaphone machine, which he posted to her, particularly when on his frequent travels. In 1975 she moved permanently to Minehead and gave up the more secretarial side of the job, but continued to type Greene’s literary manuscripts until the year after his death in 1991. She died in 2012 aged 86.

Scope and content

Personal Papers

This collection of original archival material is mostly new to scholarship; Josephine Reid preserved her Foreign Office-trained confidentiality throughout her life, and refused access to both Richard Greene, anthologist of Graham Greene’s letters, and Norman Sherry, his official biographer – whose work does not mention her. The hitherto unexplored correspondence contains many details of Greene’s working practices, including word counts for novels at particular dates, publication details, his movements around the world, his relationships with friends and people he did business with. From Greene himself there are autograph letters, typed signed letters, signed post cards and a number of signed letters inserted in the books. These letters often usefully flesh out details of Greene’s life not given in Sherry’s work nor others’, and are often very evocative.

The collection of documents and ephemera provides further information on work in progress. The main component is 86 pages of transcripts of Greene’s dictation of about 220 working letters to Josephine on the Dictaphone system, which show that even in his last year at 86, and with the illness that took his life, his rate of work was still considerable. Other papers clarify the nature of Greene’s beliefs about religion, contraception and the Liberation Theology movement in Latin America; his relationship with Kim Philby, 'the Third Man'; the nature of the literary permission given to Norman Sherry, his authorised biographer, and Greene’s crucial insertion of a comma into it when on his deathbed; other material on his death; obituaries of his family, etc.

The papers have been listed by Anna Sander, October 2014 - March 2015. Corrections and additions will be made to the online version of the collection catalogue as required. Descriptions from this catalogue of the items enclosed in the printed books (see series 14) are included in the copy-specific notes area of the printed books' descriptions on SOLO.

Table of contents: record series

GGJR 01 Correspondence (1 file - 14 items)
GGJR 02 Administrative notebooks (1 file - 4 items)
GGJR 03 Correspondence - Dictabelt transcripts (1 file - 43ff, 120 items)
GGJR 04 Correspondence - Dictabelt transcripts (1 file - 43ff; 119 items)
GGJR 05 Correspondence, press cuttings & articles (1 file - 7 items)
GGJR 06 Correspondence & ephemera re the deaths of Graham Greene and Raymond Greene (1 file - 13 items)
GGJR 07 News cuttings re Graham Greene's life and works (1 file - 29 items)
GGJR 08 Material re sale of Graham Greene's archive and library (1 file - 47 items)
GGJR 09 Articles etc re Graham Greene's life and works (1 file - 14 items)
GGJR 10 Letters from Graham Greene to Josephine Reid (1 file - 106 items)
GGJR 11 Photographs of Josephine Reid and Graham Greene (1 file - 15 items)
GGJR 12 Cassettes (5 items)
GGJR 13 Oil painting - 1 item
GGJR 14 Print and manuscript material formerly inserted into the collection's printed books (3 files - 260 items)
GGJR 15 Printed books as listed in ND's catalogue. Volumes are catalogued on Oxford SOLO.

Biographical index - principal individuals and organisations mentioned


Printed Books

Josephine Reid's extensive personal collection of Greene’s works from the 1940s onwards includes approximately 70 presentation copies from Greene; others are signed by him and some by other writers. Several of the presentations reveal his appreciation of the work Josephine did over the many years as in the first book she typed for him, A Burnt Out Case, “For Josephine who had a bout of slavery over this” or The Complaisant Lover, “For Josephine Reid with grateful thanks for all the help you have given in the wild scramble of a production”. She clearly loved her work, writing to Euan Cameron as late as 1985, “Yes I adored typing Monsignor Quixote and The Honorary Consul – I loathed the film of the latter book. I’m so fond of A Burnt Out Case – Oh I do hope no film is ever made of that book”. Also here are some 28 books and articles about Greene or relating to him – biographies, criticism, memoir - such as that of Dr Lechat, who ran the leper colony where Greene wrote A Burnt Out Case, written as a talk for the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust in 2006; auction records of his first editions, etc.


The collection has been named for Cherry Record (nee Hammond) (1919-1993). She was a senior scholar at Westfield College, London, on her admission there in 1938 to read English. She bitterly regretted the fact that she was forced by financial pressures to turn down a place she had won at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to read English, as her local authority chose to reduce her grant by the amount of the Westfield Scholarship – significant in those days. In the event, Westfield ladies were evacuated to Oxford at the outbreak of the Second World War, and she completed her (London) degree in the City she had always wanted to be educated in – Oxford. She remained in Oxford, teaching English, for the rest of her life. She taught, inter alia, Greene’s ‘The Power and the Glory’ as an ‘A’ level text. She married a Brasenose man, Peter Record, a renowned cricketer, and had three sons, Robert, Richard and Neil. Only one, Neil, survived to adulthood, and he came up to Balliol in 1972 to read PPP (Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology). Neil Record founded a successful currency management firm (Record plc), and has helped fund Balliol’s acquisition of this collection.

- Anna Sander 2014-15

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The archives and manuscripts of Balliol College are open by appointment to enquirers in person at the Historic Collections Centre in St Cross Church, Holywell.
Enquiries should be sent in writing (email or post).
There is no charge for Archive enquiries, but donations for Archive purposes are always appreciated.
Updated 2.viii.16
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