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Mabel Esther Allan Papers

Identifier: DG0015


The Mabel Esther Allan Papers contain manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, correspondence, and personal items created and accumulated by Mabel Esther Allan between 1915 and 1998. Miss Allan's papers were created from her composition of twelve published books; five privately printed volumes of short stories, poems, and autobiography; and eight unpublished novels, short stories, and essays. An English author known especially for her series of novels featuring Drina the ballerina, Miss Allan published over 170 books for children and young adults. Her correspondence file details the publication of around 130 of her books.


  • 1915-1998
  • Majority of material found within [1931-1993]

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Mabel Esther Allan was born in Wallasey, Cheshire, England, on February 11, 1915, to James Pemberton Allan, a merchant, and his wife, Priscilla Hagon Allan. Educated at disappointing dame schools, Miss Allan took no interest in her lessons but enjoyed only reading in the library and composing short stories and novels. From the age of eight, she intended to become an author. After completing her education in 1932, Miss Allan taught folk dancing classes for the English Folk Dance and Song Society while submitting stories and novels for publication. She failed to publish any adult pieces, but found unexpected success at selling short stories for children. She sold her first book for publication, Grim Glen Castle, in 1939, but it was not published because of the outbreak of war. During World War II, Miss Allan served as a farm worker in the Women's Land Army, a teacher in a preparatory school, and a nursery warden for the children of factory workers.

Miss Allan submitted Grim Glen Castle to another publisher in the spring of 1945. It was published in 1948 as The Glen Castle Mystery. Deciding to commit herself to writing for children, she wrote her second published novel, The Adventurous Summer, in the autumn of 1945. Over the subsequent twenty-five years, Miss Allan produced an abundant number of novels. She wrote adventures, mysteries, and romances for older girls, all following conventional attitudes and subject matters. The only exception to her conformity appeared in her school stories, which embraced progressive educational tenets like coeducation, student self-discipline, and schoolchildren's participation in running their schools. Miss Allan also sold about 330 short stories between 1936 and 1957. She first traveled abroad in 1948, beginning a practice that contributed heavily to her writing by providing new settings and experiences to use in her novels. In addition to various Continental locales, Miss Allan had a special fondness for New York, Paris, and the Celtic areas of the British Isles.

During the decade of the 1960s, Miss Allan became established as a top-selling children's writer. She especially became known for her series of Drina books. Written under the pseudonym of Jean Estoril, the eleven volumes follow a young dancer from her schooling to her becoming an internationally famous ballerina. Miss Allan also published under the pseudonyms of Priscilla Hagon, Anne Pilgrim, and Kathleen M. Pearcey. Her writing changed in the 1970s with a new focus on religious disbelief, familial dysfunction, sexual feelings in young people, and the women's suffrage movement in the early twentieth century. During the 1980s, Miss Allan had a series of fiction and non-fiction works privately printed. She composed an informal autobiography in two volumes, while other books recounted her travel experiences and published some of her early poetry and school stories. Miss Allan published over 170 books for children and young adults over her literary career. She died in 1998.


Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, ed. Laurie Collier and Joyce Nakamura (Detriot: Gale Research, 1993), 1:70-73.

To Be An Author: A Short Autobiography by Mabel Esther Allan (Privately printed, 1982).


4.80 Cubic Feet (19 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries by Mabel Esther Allan between 1966 and 1998.

Related Materials

For an illustration from Romansgrove (1975), see the Gail Owens Papers (DG0756); for the dust jacket for Dancing to Danger (1967), see the Susanne Suba Papers (DG0954)
Mabel Esther Allan Papers
In Progress
Hans Rasmussen
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This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001