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Walter Nelson Morey papers

Identifier: Coll 230

Scope and Contents note

The Walt Morey collection consists largely of fiction manuscripts and correspondence. Biographical material, non-fiction manuscripts, magazines, scrapbooks, children’s art work and other personal materials are also included. This inventory represents an incorporation of all the material received between 1967 and 1993. Collection is organized into ten series:

The Biographical Material includes drafts, page proofs and off-print copies from Morey’s short autobiography for the Something About the Author series. Also included is biographical information on Morey from the E.P. Dutton Publishing Company, and some miscellaneous biographical material.

The bulk of the Correspondence is with literary agents, mainly the August Lenniger Literary Agency, and publishing companies, in particularly E.P. Dutton. There are also many fan letters, mostly from grade school children, letters from individual writers, and a collection of letters from fans whose unintentional humor Morey found amusing. Also included are letters from school officials, writers’ conferences, clubs and associations, and award committees. Personal and miscellaneous letters round out the correspondence section. Noted correspondents include authors Frank Bonham, John Hawkins, Stewart Holbrook, Art Larson, Alfred Powers and Joe Van Wormer. Photocopies of letters from Ernest Haycox to Art Larson (given to Morey by Larson) can be found in Box 2, folder 5. Many of the letters in the correspondence section contain carbons of responses from either Morey or his first wife, Rosalind.

The fiction and non-fiction Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title and cover Morey’s entire writing career. The manuscripts are mostly novel length, and the files include notes, synopses, drafts, fragments, printer’s copies, galley proofs, page proofs, illustrated book covers, reviews, and condensed versions. Notable in the Gentle Ben file is a typed outline and synopsis for the unfinished sequel to Gentle Ben, given the working titles Gentle Ben II and Claws, which Morey was working on at the time of his death. Also included in this section is a folder of original drypoint illustrations from the original Gentle Ben book. The North to Danger file includes a color separation of the book cover illustrations. Braille title pages for several novels are found in Box 79. Also in the manuscript series, arranged alphabetically by title, are short stories. Some were written by Morey and some by other authors, mainly children. Completing the manuscript series is a television script for Ghost Writer by Susan Shadburne, a bound collection of stories and poems from students titled “Rowe Teen Talent, 1964-65,” poetry by various authors, and speeches. Tearsheets include publicity on Walt Morey as well as a short story authored by Morey titled “Secret of the Wreck.” A French translation of that story is also included. Other short stories in this section were written by authors such as Don James, John Hawkins and Ernest Haycox.

The majority of the Magazines in the collection contain stories written by Morey during his days of pulp fiction. The magazines are arranged in alphabetical order. Notable is the magazine Knockout, which contains Morey’s first published work, “The Hellman.”

The Comic Books series includes Ivan Tors Gentle Ben comic books, which are based on the TV series Gentle Ben, are arranged chronologically. A Japanese language activity book which contains a condensed version of Gentle Ben is also included.

The series titled Morey Book Lists consists of various publications which describe an assortment of children’s books, each publication containing a description of a novel by Morey. Some of the smaller series include publicity materials, programs, children’s book recommendations, and awards.

The Personal Material series contains Morey’s financial journals covering the years 1946 to 1970, as well as royalty reports from his novel North to Danger. Also included are Morey’s high school graduation certificates and announcements, and a collection of title pages of Morey’s books in Braille. A section of newspaper clippings contains articles on Morey.

The Class Projects are a series of hand painted and hand drawn artworks by children, usually pertaining to various scenes in Morey’s novels. The artwork is arranged by book title in alphabetical order. Two scrapbooks and a bound folder are also included in the class projects section. These were assembled by students and contain illustrated scene interpretations from various Morey novels. A folder of untitled story illustrations from Morey novels and other miscellaneous class artwork and projects finish the class projects series.

The Miscellaneous series includes a collection of scrapbooks, compiled by Rosalind Morey, that contain mainly newspaper articles and other memorabilia regarding Morey’s career. Scrapbooks 1 through 5 contain information regarding various Morey novels. Scrapbook 11 serves as a personal journal written by Rosalind Morey concerning a trip with Morey to Alaska. Boxes 87 and 88 contain items such as award plaques, a Gentle Ben hand puppet, a bear statuette, and cassettes. Package #2 contains a Gentle Ben cricket bat. The audio cassettes are recordings of Morey radio interviews, birthday greetings, and three tapes regarding Morey’s involvement in writing the Operation Blue Bear book. The video cassettes contain recordings of Morey speeches and autobiographical interviews. The pictorials are a group of paintings, enlarged photographs, and blueprints which have been removed from their original frames. An oil painting of Gentle Ben, done by R. Mowery, is found in package #1.

A series of forty Free-Standing Volumes. All but nine of these are novels written by Morey, including sixteen foreign language versions.

Photographs include Schmitt family photos, including images from Walter Schmitt showing Charles Lindberg; Addison college; and Martin's war service.


  • Creation: 1939-1990


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Walter Nelson Morey was born February 3, 1907 in Hoquiam, Washington. He began school in 1912 in Jasper, Oregon, and struggled throughout his career as a student. He did not find his desire for writing until after graduating from high school. He had read a Zane Grey novel entitled The Vanishing American, and disliked the book’s ending so much that he decided to write a new one; after doing so, he knew he wanted to become a writer. His previous indifference to school caused him problems at first, but he copied stories from magazines word for word to learn why they were punctuated as they were. Over the next ten years Morey wrote a two million word novel, rewriting it almost fourteen times. He never sent it to a publisher, but it taught him the art of writing.

While Morey was mastering his writing skills he took other jobs, such as working in a veneer plant, making brushes in a paintbrush factory and “working in the woods.” After injuring a shoulder he took up boxing on the advice of his chiropractor. He later fought professionally for three years, using pseudonyms so his family wouldn’t learn of it. His work as a fighter got him a job as a theater manager, where he was employed to control gangs of tough kids that frequented the theater. After the last show each night, Morey went home and wrote until early in the morning.

On July 8, 1934, Morey married his first wife, Rosalind Ogden, in Portland, Oregon. He met John Hawkins, a pulp fiction writer who later became a well-known television producer and story editor. Hawkins persuaded Morey to write short stories for pulp magazines. Using his experience as a boxer, Morey wrote a fight story for a magazine called Knockout in 1937 for $55.00. In 1951 Morey spent a summer in Alaska working as a deep sea diver, giving him many new things to write about, but the pulp magazine market was being crowded out by television. Morey did have one adult non-fiction work published in 1954, North to Danger, which chronicled the adventures of his friend Virgil Burford, with whom he had worked in Alaska. Morey stopped writing for several years, and he and his wife moved to Sherwood, Oregon, where they bought and managed a filbert orchard. Rosalind, a school teacher, encouraged him to try juvenile fiction, and drawing on his previous experiences in Alaska, Morey started to write Gentle Ben. The story became a critical and financial success. From that moment Morey embraced juvenile fiction, using such authors as Jack London and Wilson Rawls for inspiration. He had fourteen books for juveniles published, as well as two adult non-fiction books, all of which dealt with the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Morey won awards for his books Gentle Ben, Kavik the Wolf Dog, Canyon Winter, Runaway Stallion, Run Far Run Fast, and Year of the Black Pony.

Rosalind died on February 28, 1977 after a long illness. During Rosalind’s hospital stay the Moreys had become friends with Peggy Kilburn, who at the time was also a patient. On June 26, 1978, Walt and Peggy were married, and Morey published three more novels before his death. The couple lived in Wilsonville, Oregon. Morey died on January 12, 1992. Peggy currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Source: Something About the Author. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990.


50 linear feet (94 containers, 39 volumes)

Language of Materials



Walt Morey (1907-1992), award-winning author of Gentle Ben, Year of the Black Pony, and numerous other juvenile and adult books set in the Pacific Northwest, was determined to become a writer despite a youthful lack of interest in school. Morey slowly mastered his craft by writing short stories for pulp magazines, drawing on his varied life experiences. After the pulp magazine market dried up, Morey’s wife Rosalind convinced him to try children’s fiction; his first attempt yielded the classic Gentle Ben. Spurred by the book’s critical and financial success, Morey went on to write over fourteen more novels and non-fiction books. The Walt Morey collection consists largely of fiction manuscripts and correspondence. Biographical material, non-fiction manuscripts, magazines, scrapbooks, children’s art work and other personal materials are also included. This inventory represents an incorporation of all the material received between 1967 and 1993.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Biographical Material; Series II. Correspondence; Series III. Manuscripts; Series IV. Magazines; Series V. Comic Books; Series VI. Morey Book Lists; Series VII. Personal Material; Series VIII. Class Projects; Series IX. Miscellaneous; Series X. Free-Standing Volumes; Series XI. Photographs.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.


Guide to the Walter Nelson Morey papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Lisa Lynch and Rose M. Smith
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA