University of Arizona

                                             Special Collections will be closed December 20, 2023 through January 1, 2024 in observance of the University Holiday break.

Papers of Harold Bell Wright

Photograph of Landscape, 1925


Harold Bell Wright was America's leading romance author from 1903 to about 1923. It is estimated that of his nineteen books published between 1903 and 1942, as many as ten million copies were sold. Harold was forced to leave school to combat a serious illness. He relocated to Missouri where he regained his health and started his preaching career. From 1897 to 1908 he served as a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). His preaching took him to Pierce City, Missouri; Pittsburg, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Lebanon, Missouri; and lastly to Redlands, California. In 1902 Wright wrote his first book, That Printer of Udell's, which he read to his Pittsburg, Kansas congregation, one chapter per week. What That Printer was published in 1903, sales were good enough that Wright almost immediately started writing Shepherd of the Hills. When that story was published in 1907, its sales broke publishing records and established Wright as America's top-selling author. The following year he left the ministry to pursue his promising writing career. While living in the Imperial Valley, Wright wrote several books including The Winning of Barbara Worth, his highest selling title. In 1920, after many years of illness, Wright moved to Tucson, Arizona where he believed the climate aided in his recovery. In Tucson he wrote several of his novels, such as When a Man's a Man {[1916]. In 1935 he returned to California, this time to San Diego where he resided until his death on May 24, 1944.

Collection consists of the papers of Harold Bell Wright. Correspondence, professional writings, and the miscellaneous materials are by or about Harold Bell Wright. There are a limited number of writings by his son Gilbert Wright, aka John Lumbar [sic] [Lebar], including a co-authored novel with his father. The majority of the collection consists of sermons, handwritten manuscripts, and magazine publications written by Harold Bell Wright. The bulk of the correspondence is professional correspondence between Harold Bell Wright and his publishers.

Miscellaneous materials include photographs, newspaper clippings, and ephemera. The photographs are photocopies of a 1925 scrapbook which include photographs of Harold Bell Wright, Mrs. Wright, their home in Tucson, Arizona, and some of their travels. The majority of newspaper clippings, which are also photocopies, relate to Harold Bell Wright. The ephemera consists of printed material and postcards collected by or about Harold Bell Wright.