Manuscript Group 1137, William Hamilton Osborne (1873 – 1942), Author, Lawyer, Papers, 1902 – 1937


Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs


1137. OSBORNE, WILLIAM HAMILTON (1873-1942), author, lawyer.

Papers, 1902 – 1937. 4 1/2 ft.

A native of Newark, N.J., Osborne studied law at Columbia
University Law School, began to practice as an attorney in the
1890s and subsequently served as counsel for the Authors League
of America. Osborne began his literary career in 1902 by
writing short stories for such magazines as Harpers Monthly
, McClures, the Saturday Evening Post
and many others. The collection includes numerous manuscripts,
galley proofs, and published versions of Osborne’s novels, plays,
motion picture scripts, essays and short fiction ranging from
love stories to detective tales written between 1902-1937. The
correspondence in the collection consists primarily of business
letters between Osborne and his publishers. A detailed inventory
is available.

Gift of Mrs. William H. Osborne, 1980.

MG 1137


William H. Osborne Papers,

4.5 linear ft.

Osborne, William Hamilton,

Lawyer, Author.

Born Newark,
N.J. Jan. 7, 1873.  Parents, Joseph P. and Kate Hamilton
Osborne, both natives of N.J.  Educated at public schools in
Newark; graduated 1890 from Newark High School.  Studied law
at Columbia University Law School under Theodore W. Dwight
1890-1891; later at New York Law School 1892-1893, including post
graduate course.  LL.B.N.Y. Law School 1892.  Admitted
as attorney and counselor at law New York bar March 1894;
admitted as attorney at law N.J. bar Nov. 1894, counselor Nov.
1897.  Special Master and examiner in Chancery.  N.Y.
office, 120, N.Y. City.  Member of N.J. law firm Osborne
& Astley, office 800 Broad St. Newark, N.J.

Since 1902 short story contributor to many
magazines, including harpers Monthly Magazine, harpers Weekly,
McClures, Saturday Evening Post, etc. etc.  Author of
Novels, Red Mouse, published Dodd, Mead & Co. 1909, Running
Fight, 1910, Catspaw, 1911, Blue Buckle, 1913, Boomerang, 1915.
Also author 1915 of original motion picture serial “Neal of
the Navy,” produced by Pathe.  Occasional contributor
to legal magazines and weeklies upon legal subjects.

Member Washington Association of N.J.  Member
of Executive Committee of Author’s League of America.

Politics – regular Republican.  Church
– North Reformed, Newark.

Married at Rockaway N.J. June 1, 1898, Lydia
Gelston Spring of Newark, N.J.  Children, William Hamilton
O. Jr., and Frederick Spring O.

Residence 213 Highland Avenue, Newark, N.J.

213 Highland Ave., Newark, N.J.  Dec. 30, 1915.

N.J. Historical Society,

Attention of Miss. Johnson.

My dear Miss Johnson: –

Pursuant to your very kind request for sketch of myself, I
enclose one which I have made as brief as possible.  It is
not necessary to acknowledge receipt.

I am much flattered by the request – it is difficult for me
to understand how my career can be of any interest to an
historical society.


Wm. H. Osborne

William Hamilton Osborne.

213 Highland Ave.

Newark, N.J.

N.B.  William Hamilton Osborne died
December 25, 1942.

MG 1137

William H. Osborne Papers,

4.5 linear ft.

Scope and Content Note

This collection is arranged alphabetically,
first by series title, then by content of folder.  The
correspondence folders, however, are arranged chronologically.
In several instances two copies of a manuscript are included in a
folder, either because the original copy is damaged or because
two copies of the same story differ slightly in content.  Published
versions of Osborne’s work have been reproduced on acid free
paper to insure their long term preservation.

Osborne’s correspondence spans the
years of his literary career – from 1902 to 1937, five years
before his death.  The letters deal chiefly with his career
as an author and provide little insight into other aspects of his
life.  William Hamilton Osborne wrote novels, plays, motion
picture scripts, essays, and short stories ranging form love
stories to detective tales.  This collection includes
numerous manuscripts from each of these categories.

Students of popular American fiction will
find this collection especially useful inasmuch as it may serve
to assess the nature of American reading tastes in the early
twentieth century.  In addition, researchers interested in
matters concerning local color will also find the William
Hamilton Osborne papers valuable.  Most of Osborne’s
stories are set in the New York-New Jersey area during the early
part of the twentieth century.  He occasionally refers to
local institutions, such as the Crazy Jane Society of Morristown.
He also draws upon his professional experiences as a lawyer for
subject matter.  The dialogue is realistic and contemporary
with his times.  According to newspaper clippings his
stories were well received by critics, who described them as
having sound plots with swift action.  Some of his
contemporaries, however, commented that he wrote typical
detective stories, followed the laws of romance, and used too
much narrative.

Series Description

Correspondence, 1902-1909.
Approx. 80 items.

This consists
primarily of literary correspondence between Osborn and
publishers.  Included in this group is a record of payments
to Osborne for his stories.

Correspondence, 1910-1914.
Approx. 35 items.

correspondence, including two letters from lawyers praising
“The Running Fight.”

Correspondence, 1915-1917.
Approx. 55 items.

Includes a discussion of “The Running Fihgt” and “Neal of the
Navy,” a few letters from editors rejecting a manuscript,
and letters discussing contracts.  One letter addressed
“To Whom It May Concern” certifies that Osborne is a
lawyer in Good standing.

Correspondence, 1918-1937.
Approx. 87 items.

Includes letters from the American Defense Society, the Vigilantes, the Author’s
League of America, and a request for Osborne’s biography for
the New Jersey’s First Citizens publication.

Correspondence, Undated.
Approx. 15 items.

Contains a revised synopsis of a story, an item labeled Editorial Correspondence,
and a letter from the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences,
requesting Osborne to speak to a group of students on the art of
story writing – a list of questions is included.

Essays and Nonfiction material. 12 items.

Items Include:

– “Can Our children trust us?”

A pro-World War I essay.

– “The Nan of the Sixth of September”

A tribute to Lafayette.

– “Murders and Movies”

On how every author acts as his own lawyer.

– Newark Moot Court Society

Brief of the Defendant’s Counsel – Riggs against Palmer.

– A proposed radio talk on the practical side of storytelling

– “The Situation in Seattle”

About the Seattle shipbuilding industry. – 2 copies.

– “The Slaughter of Innocents”

A discussion of divorce laws in the U.S.

– “A Study in Crime”

Based on the actual case of The People against Pietro Giannone.

– “Your Landlord and Your Lease”

– An Autobiography

– Untitled travel guide to Canada, British Columbia, and Northern United States.

Galley proofs.
Approx. 12 items

– “Conquest of New York”

– “Every Soldier His Own Lawyer” – an 8 part

– “The Gratitude of Olga” – published 1905.

– “The Story of Debvoise” – published 1904.

– “The Thoroughbred”

Legal Transactions, 1910-1917
7 items.

– Contract with the publisher for “Catspaw” -1910.

– Rights to “The House of a Thousand Scandals” -1912.

– Unsigned agreement between Osborne and Richard R. Seill Jr., concerning
“Neil of the Navy” – 1915.

– Agreement between Osborne and Pathe Freres – 1915.

– Agreement with Richard Neill Jr. discussing payments – 1915.

– Agreements between Osborne and Small, Maynard & Co. concerning

“How to make Your Will” – 1917.

– Contract with David Perkins concerning the royalties for “The Running Fight. ”

Miscellaneous material.
24 items.

– A certificate naming Osborne as Examiner in the Chancery of New Jersey.
June 17, 1913.

– Certificate appointing Osborne as Special Master for Essex County -June 17, 1913.

– Pamphlet listing prominent contributors to Success Magazine.

– Contract between the Broadway Play Producers, Inc. and Alice Leal Pollock
concerning her play – James j. Mulholland and Wife.”

– A Library of Congress card acknowledging the copyright of one of his works.

– Miscellaneous notes and two copies of notices rejecting manuscripts.

– A sketch of Osborne for a magazine.

– 1913 copyright for “Green Eyes”

– 1909 copyright for “An Elopement”

– 1908 copyright for “Standing Room Only”

– November 1894 certificate stating that Osborne has become an attorney and
Counselor at Law.

– 2 Newsletters titled:  The Farmer’s Non-Partisan
League and Flushing

Celebrates the New “Fourth.”

Newspaper clippings, ads, reviews for “The Red Mouse”
and “Neil of the

– 17 items.

Newspaper clippings, ads, and reviews for “The Running Fight, ” “The Prospector,”
“The Blue Buckle,” “Catspaw,” “Boomerang.”

Approx. 52 items.
Includes pictures of a play, a playbill naming the cast of
performers, a typed advertisement by Osborne.

Newspaper copies and manuscript copy of the series – Modern Magazine

At Close Range.
10 items.  Manuscript copies includes sections 3, 4, and 5 of series.

Miscellaneous Newspaper clippings and ads for plays.  22 items. Includes:
biographical articles about Osborne as a lawyer and author.
A review of an actor in the play “The Running Fight.”
An article on the Republican platform in 1916.  An ad for
Lake Placid news.  Pages 5-8 of the Newark News – 1903.

Newspaper articles that need repair.
3 items.

Consist of biographical articles on Osborne and other authors.

Novel and Synopsis
2 items.


1 item.

The Heavy Hand.

1 item.

The Hypocrite.

1 item.

The Running Fight.

1 item.

South Dakota.

1 item.

The Standing Alibi of H. Stainleigh Storme.

1 item.

The Taint In the Blood.

1 item.

Tub O’Blood.

1 item.

The Woodchoppers.

2 items.

Barbed Wire Entanglements

Just A Step Too Far

Plays A-B
3 items.

The Akoond of Swat

Brand From The Burning


Plays C
2 items.

2 copies of the Cat and The Canary.

Plays E-L
6 items

An Elopement – 1909

Hearts Sincere – the 4 individual acts.

Loaded Dice

Plays N
Approx. 11 items.

Neal of the Navy – 1915 Motion Picture Script

Nick Carter’s Son

Attached to plays are letters and Osborne’s notes.

Plays P & S
Approx. 5 items.

The Paymaster’s Wife

The Poor Relations – 1910

South Dakota – 2 copies

Standing Room Only – 1908

Scenarios for plays and motion pictures.
Approx. 22 items.

Clang of Cavalry

Cleaning Up

The Fortunes of John Storme

Hitting the Rainbow Trail (Part I & II) – 1918

Huckleback, the housemover

The Lucky Loaf

Nancy Lee of Annapolis (2 copies)

The Passion Paramount

Pretty Polly – 1915

A Rollicking Ramble

The Room With The Red Rug

The Runaway Girl – 1916

Sairey Gamp – 1915

Secret of the Purple Powder

Secret of the Red Room

The Spider’s Web

The Stigma

2 untitled pieces

Short Stories A-B
12 items.

After Bigger Game

Alias Louis Vardon

All Roads Lead to Rome (part 3)


An Amazing Indiscretion

At the Café Thermidor

Bill Jones

The Bishop of the Street

The Bookworm and the Bully

The Bottom Rung

A Brand From the Burning

Short Stories – C
13 items

The Cake of Scented Soap

Camp Followers – 1916

The Car that Found Itself

Casting the First Stone



The Cleverness of Covington’s Client

The Coming of the Magnet

Contributory Negligence

Corrupting Mrs. Carnaby

Corsage Bouquet

The Counterfeit Corot

Short Stories D- E
18 items.

The Dangerous Mrs. Deane

Dangerous Road

Dash of Spice

Dead Man’s Ear

The Decoy (2 copies)


Diamond in the Sky

Dog Tags

Dynamite or Matter of a Wrist Watch

Dynamite, Playing with Dynamite

The Ear of Ellenbogen


An Effective War Machine

The Elbow Touch on Mortgage Hill

End of a Gamester

There are also notes and 1 letter attached to An Effective War

– 1918.

Short Stories F-I
17 items.

The Fatty Forbes Foundation

The Fewer the Higher


The Fire Bug

Fondness For Peanuts

Far Shorty Cullen’s Kids


Half a Carat Less

Handsomely Trimmed

The Haunted Corridor

Hearsay Evidence

A Hot-Bed of Ices

House Devil

Houseboat Mystery – 1915

If you See It On the Screen, It’s So

Improvidence or the Rainey Day

Infamous Inoculation – 1918

Short Stories J-L
13 Items

Jilted (2 copies)

Jim Cradlebaugh, Headliner

Just a Step Too Far

Just One moment, Please

A Kick in the Shin Bone

Kow Tow de Luxe

The Lady With The Black Eye

The Last Stand

Let ‘em Alone

Little Chap from Nowhere

Lucre of Lucille Lorraine

letter attached to Just a Step Too Far.

Short Stories M-O
13 items.

The Magic Motor Horn


The Man Trap

Man With the Husky Voice

The Manly art of Self Offense (2 copies)

Mr. Carver Comes to Town – with 1918 letter attatched.

Mr. Bacheller’s Apartments

Name of a Name

One Hundred and One Broadway

Opening Contraband

An Outrage or So – 1917

Short Stories P
11 items.

Painless Passing of Peter

Palpitating Heart

Peter Grimwood Goes to War

Pig – Knitters

The Pink ‘uns

Poker Face

The Poor Fish – 1910

The Poor Ham

Pride of Possession

The Professor and the Plainclothes Man

The Pyromaniac’s Reform

Short Stories R
11 items.

The Rat Fit of Yakima Way


Life Burdensome

The Renegade

The Right Eye of Cardamon

Riotous Living

The Risk of Chance Acquaintance

Road Closed – Detour – 1921

The R.P.& Q. Train Robbery

Ruined Beyond Recall

A Rush to Cover

Short Stories S
15 items.


The Scarlet Swimmer

A Serpent’s Tooth

SettledOut of Court


Signor of Reclaimed

So Help Me God

Society Five

The Sole Survivor – 1916

Sprucing Up

The Spy

The Strange Case fo Chaloner

Strange Conduct of a Shadowed Bird

Sudden Shock

Suspended Sentence

Short Stories T-V
15 items.

Terror Driven

Theater Ticket Scandal


The Till Tapper

Tillie Tills

Tin of Poisoned Partridge

To Save His Face

Tracked To Its Lair

Troop Train – 1918

The Trouble Hunter

A Turn of the
Wrist (2 copies) – 1920

Untimely Indiscretion

Unusual Event In Oxford Street

Vive Le Sabot

Short Stories W-Z
14 items.


– A Policeman (2 copies)

The Watchman

The Watermelon Feast At Firefly

What Cassie Did

What’s the Use

Who’s Your Neighbor

With the Wizard of Crooked Craig

The Woman From Wingate Street

Woman’s Job

Work For the Average Man – 1918

Wraith of Castaway Cove

Untitled Story

Stories By Gelston Spring
7 items.

The Benefactor

The Compromise Candidate

3 pages of The Defeat of Johnny Ougheltree

The Elixir of Eternal Joy

The Garden of My Youth

Hirsute Horner’s Absence From the Fair

The House of Happiness

Material by other Authors
5 items.

Play – “The Running Fight, ” based on Osborne’s Novel, by Louis Albion & David Perkins.

Play – “A Businessman” by Lee Arthur.

1918 letter attached to 1 act play “Doctor Felsberg’s Patient” by Herbert Bates.

Untitled manuscript by Phil Norton.

Untitled novel with missing pages
1 item.

Untitled novel with missing pages
1 item.

Untitled novel with missing pages
1 item.

Miscellaneous stories with missing pages
1 item.

Titled pages
include:  Stairs, Moonshine, Road Closed – Detour, The
Traitor and the King, Two Faced Flossie, What Every Young Man
Wants, and Go to the Spruce, Thou Laggard.

Published magazine Articles, 1904-1926
16 items.

N.B. Manuscripts of these stories are not found in any of the preceding series.

“Green Eyes,” n.d. (2 copies)

“Blackmail” n.d.

“The Taint O’ The Leg,” n.d.

“The Made-up
Photograph and the Millionaire,”  Saturday Evening

Jan. 9, 1904.

“Bill Tewlegger and the Mastodon,”  The American Home

August 1907.

“A Deal in Gun Barrels,”  Leslies Weekly, March 25, 1909.

“The Fight and Victory,”  Illustrated Sunday Magazine, July 9,1911.

“An Eye-Opener,”  Sunset,  Sept. 1913.

“The Boudoir Scene,”  Sunset, March, 1914.

“Adrienne Gascoyne,”  Illustrated Sunday Magazine,  August1, 1915
(2 copies).

“Half and Half,”  The Blue Book Magazine, Nov. 1915.

“Two Fools and a Frolic,”  Pictorial Review,  Sept.1915.

“The Stroheim Stethoscope,”  The Munsey Magazine, Jan. 1926.

“The Sole Survivor,”  Collier’s, May 27, 1916.

“The Scheme of Sutcliffe, Swindler,” McClure’s
, April, 1903, pp. 598-605.

“Pound Losers and Pound Keepers,”  Frank Leslie’s
Popular Magazine
, May, 1903, pp. 97-99.

“Bullock Jr. and the Octopus,”  McClure’s
, October, 1903, pp. 578-585.

“The Alarm of Angelone,”  Everybody’s
, October, 1905, pp. 466-472.

“The Jilting of Genevieve,” Woman, December,
1906, pp. 369-384.

“Squeezing the Lemon,”  The New Broadway
, September, 1908, pp. 394-398.

“Giannone’s Girl,” Lippincott’s Monthly
, December, 1909, pp. 709-720.

Press notices concerning William Hamilton Osborne   Bookman, May 1911;
Bookman Advertiser, n.d.

“Neal of the Navy,” 1915.

“Sairey Gamp,” 1915

“A Pair of Green Spectacles,” Case and Comment: The Lawyer’s Magazine, June 1915, pp. 55-62.

Re. “Neal of the Navy,” from Moving Picture World,
June 26, 1915, pp.2054, 2055, 2074.

“Mrs. Archibald’s Emeralds,” Munsey’s
, May, 1917, pp. 677- 685.

“An Outrage or So,”  The Black Cat: Clever
Short Stories
, November, 1917, pp. 8-15.

“Seattle’s Secret,”  The Pioneer
(March, 1918, San Francisco), II, no. 12;

Seattle Spirit (March 21, 1918), II.

Infamous Inoculation,” Saturday Evening Post, March
9, 1918.

“The Troop Train,” Saturday Evening Post, May
11, 1918.

“Camp Follower,” Snappy Stories, April 18, 1919,
pp. 103-122.

“On the Sly,” Saturday Evening Post, Sept. 6, 1919.

“The Final Chuckle,” People’s, December
1919, pp. 7-14.

“An Amazing Indiscretion,” Metropolitan, May 1920.

“Seeing Things Again,” Saturday Evening Post, May 8, 1920.

A Rush To Cover,” Saturday Evening Post, May 15, 1920.

“Handsomely Trimmed,” Saturday Evening Post, August 21, 1920.

“A Turn of the Wrist,” Saturday Evening Post,
September 4, 1920.

“Swift Work,” Saturday Evening Post, November
13, 1920.

“Road Closed – Detour,” Chicago Sunday Tribune,
October 16, 1921.

“The Stroheim Stethoscope,” Munsey’s Magazine, January 1926.


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