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John Drury-Marion Neville Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Drury-Neville

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence between Drury, Neville, family, and professional colleagues, manuscripts and clippings, research materials pertaining to Drury's various book projects, magazine articles, and newspaper columns, personal materials, photographs, and artworks. Correspondents include Harry Hansen, Howard Vincent O'Brien, Henry Justin Smith, John T. Frederick, Henry Field, Mark Turbyfill, Herma Clark, Gertrude Abercrombie, August William Derleth, Herman Kogan, A. C. Spectorsky, Randolph Vance, and Leo Lerner.


  • Creation: 1860-1970



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The John Drury-Marion Neville Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The John Drury-Marion Neville Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biographies of John Drury & Marion Neville

John Drury was a Chicago newspaper columnist, poet, and author of several books on Chicago and the Midwest.

Drury was born on August 9, 1898 to Michael and Mary (Sullivan) Drury and grew up on the North Side of Chicago. He began his journalism career in 1920 in Los Angeles writing movie reviews for the Los Angeles Record. He returned to Chicago after only a year and joined the Merchant Marines in 1923. He became a reporter with the City News Service in 1924 and then moved to the Chicago Daily News in 1926, where he wrote features, columns, and book reviews until he left the paper in 1944. While at the Daily News, Drury wrote several popular columns on Chicago including Old Chicago Houses and Old Illinois Houses, both of which were eventually compiled into books. During this time he also wrote guide books including Chicago in Seven Days, and Dining in Chicago, and published a book of poetry called Arclight Dusks.

In 1944 Drury was awarded a fellowship from the University of Minnesota to research and write the book Historic Midwest Houses. He took a leave of absence from the Daily News which he made permanent when he was offered a radio show on WMAQ called Chicago a la Carte. Unfortunately the radio show was short lived and from 1945 on Drury struggled as a freelance writer, picking up occasional work at the Daily News, the Chicago North Side Newspapers, and for trade magazines such as Inland Steel and The Butcher Workman.

Drury was a presence in the “bohemian” world of Chicago in the 1920s and lived for several years near the 57th Street artists colony in Hyde Park. He was a member of the Cliff Dwellers club and also spent time at Schlogl’s restaurant as a contemporary of such luminaries as Ben Hecht and Robert J. Casey. His wife Marion Neville was also a part of the artists community in Hyde Park and they married on October 20, 1929.

Marion Beardsley Neville Drury was born on April 1, 1902 in Springfield, Missouri to Judge James Tilford Neville and Anna Mary (Hoover) Neville. She taught high school from 1920-1925 and received B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1925. She joined the editorial staff of the American Library Association (ALA) Booklist in 1925 where she worked until 1930. After leaving ALA she worked sporadically as a reviewer and columnist for Chicago Evening Post, Chicago Daily News, and the Chicago Sun.

The Drurys moved to a small house in Chesterton, Indiana in the 1940s, taking part in what Drury called the, "ex-urbanite" movement of artists leaving the city to get back to the land. The move proved to be detrimental to both John and Marion's writing careers, as they were unable to report first hand on Chicago events. Neither was able to obtain enough freelance work to keep them financially stable and they struggled with poverty until the end of their lives.

During the 1950s and 1960s Marion became an amateur artist and had paintings shown in a few local exhibitions. Drury continued to try to find freelance writing work, but there is indication in Marion's correspondence that Drury suffered from alcoholism, which further deepened their financial plight.

Marion Neville died in 1967 after a long bout with cancer. John Drury died in 1972.


22 Linear Feet (50 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, clippings, manuscripts, artwork, personal materials, and photographs of author and journalist John Drury, and his wife, journalist and painter Marion Neville.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Outgoing Correspondence, 1921-1970
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: Incoming Correspondence, 1871-1970
Boxes 5-13
Series 3: Works, 1920-1969
Boxes 14-26
Series 4: Personal, 1898-1969
Boxes 27-30
Series 5: Marion Neville Materials, 1918-1967
Boxes 31-43
Series 6: Photographs, 1860-1970
Boxes 44-46

Collection Stack Location

1 14 4-5


Gift of James D. Startt, 1973.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, Kelly Kress, & Shannon Yule.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the John Drury-Marion Neville Papers, 1860-1970
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 8/3/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States